With all the concerns about privacy and musings about what “secrets” could be discovered from the sounds in one’s home, I decided to build a humorous skill that uses a make-believe scenario in which a brother and sister who each possess psychic abilities will share what they can read from the user’s mind and the sounds they hear with a little humor throw in! Ashley's "Secrets" are free, but Eric's "Deeper Thoughts" come with a price! None of their insights reflect Alexa's thoughts or feelings!
What it does
The free functionality of the skill provides randomized, humorous, fictitious "Secrets" from Ashley, who shares what she has learned from using her mind reading skills and from being a very good listener. The latest In-Skill Purchasing product, “Deeper Thoughts”, provides randomized insights into some blunter “Deeper Thoughts” from her brother, Eric, also a psychic, for a small fee!
How I built it
Challenges I ran into
When I first coded the original skill, it was one of the first in which I used Alexa Presentation Language (APL). This version was my first skill to use In-Skill Purchasing (ISP), so there was that learning curve in addition to refining my APL abilities. .
I also had to create a new premise for the skill to meet one of Amazon’s Policies that was either added after the skill was originally certified or wasn’t considered at the time of that initial review in April 2019.
Finally, testing my skill on the small round hub on Amazon’s Developer Console did not accurately reflect what the Amazon Reviewer was seeing when testing it for certification. I did not have an Echo Spot, so I was relying on what I was seeing on the Developer Console. When I submitted it for certification, it would fail because the reviewer was seeing a pink screen on the Spot. After making changes several times that were unsuccessful, I finally bought a Spot which arrived on November 10th. While the Amazon reviewers tried to help me isolate the issue within the code, it wasn’t until after I set up my new Spot that I made real progress, fixed the problem and Our Little Secret was certified on 11/11/2019. It is my understanding that Amazon will be looking to determine whether this issue I experienced is due to a problem in the Developer Console testing functionality.
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
I am very proud of the popularity of the first version which was first certified on 4/24/2019 and as of 11/05/2019 has over 10,000 unique customers and 105,000 utterances.
What I learned
The basics of working with ISP and further aspects of APL.
What's next for Our Little Secret
I'll be adding new "secrets" & "deeper thoughts," but for the immediate future, this retiree is just going to chill out!