Alexa Rolls Out Custom Tasks in Routines to Streamline Third-Party Skill Activation
Amazon has released the new Custom Tasks in Routines option for developers in a public beta. The new feature lets Alexa skill developers connect a function in their skill to an Alexa Routine. A user starting an Alexa Routine that includes a news app would be able to immediately hear local news instead of having to follow up with additional voice commands after starting their Routine.
Alexa Routines connect actions taken by the voice assistant and connected smart devices to a single voice command or another trigger. Until now, third-party voice apps could only activate as part of a routine, requiring follow-up voice commands from a user. The Custom Tasks feature lets those third-party apps work more like the native first-party Alexa skills, automatically running a specific action within the skill like a standard Alexa option. Endel, Kindspace, All India Radio, and Live Streaming for Twitch (a company owned by Amazon) have all started offering Custom Tasks after participating in the closed beta. Endel users can now implement Endel’s Sleep soundscape as part of a routine, instead of just having the voice app open and require more input.
“We were excited to be invited to participate in the developer preview for Custom Routines,” said Max Zaytsev, Chief Product Officer for Voice at Endel. “At first, we enabled the feature without communicating the update to any of our users. Even then, we doubled our active Routines users within a two-week period. We‘ve received feedback from customers saying how much they love the idea of being able to select pre-configured actions within our skills.”
Amazon has been quick to widen and improve the range of Routines since it came out three years ago. Most recently, the voice assistant added movement and sound activation for routines, initiating them when someone walks in the room or if it hears an appliance beep. Routines extended to third-party skills about a year after their initial launch, with the ability to customize the commands and write out additions independently coming later, The ability to share routines with friends further served to entice users to test the routines out. Custom Tasks let developers further embed their apps in Alexa and could encourage more frequent use by Alexa device owners.
“The Custom Tasks in Routines feature is great for any developer looking to drive repeat engagement,” says Zaytsev. “You turn on the feature once, and you’ll find that your users keep coming back.”