Last week Amazon decided it was time to add a little bit of depth and power to the Calendar integration available on Amazon Echo and Alexa enabled devices. Specifically adding features like Calendar Availability, Calendar, and Routine Integration and the new Reminders API. As this blog continues to grow I am always looking for better ways to streamline productivity and have begun using a calendar heavily so I figured why not integrate that calendar with Alexa?
First, let’s take a look at Calendar Availability. This feature allows you to ask Alexa when you have an opening in your calendar. You can do this in a couple different ways. You can ask for a specific length of time availability on a specific day or you can as a general question about when you have free time. Since this blog is a one-man band (for the most part) I do not typically have to ask myself what my availability is so that I can schedule a meeting with myself. Now I have been scheduling blog post lately as all-day events and now being able to ask Alexa what my availability is can give me a high-level picture of when I have posts set to publish and when I may need to add something.
The feature I am most excited about however is the integration between Routines and Calendars. You can now use your Calendar as an Action in a Routine. This can be something as simple as setting up a routine where Alexa will tell you what is on your schedule at a certain time to something more advanced like having Alexa return with your schedule when you turn on your computer to write (assuming you have a way for your computer to trigger). I am using this on everything now and have ti set that when I turn on the lamp on my writing desk Alexa will tell me what blog posts I have scheduled so I know what to focus on. I would, however, like to see this integration grow and the ability to add calendars as a trigger and not just an action.
The last feature that Amazon brought to the updated Calendar is the new Reminders API which will take developers to integrate but really is a great feature. With the Reminders API, Alexa Skills can now remind you of upcoming events. Currently, the Reminders API is only available to Kayak, the NHL and TV Guide so I tested with the NHL Skill and it is nice to get a reminder when a game I am interested in coming on. The Reminders API is also available in Alexa Blueprints so that could lead to some interesting developments. I am interested if I will be able to make use of it with the IoTRant Skill to alert users to new blog posts.
I have to say for something as trivial as a calendar it is nice to see Amazon putting some development time into making Alexa smarter with its integration and I have been pretty happy with the results.
Let me know what you think of the new intelligence behind the Alexa Calendar integration.
I am passionate about the IoT and connected devices. Using connectivity to automate our lives will empower civilization to achieve greatness.