Just like how apps on our smartphones usually fulfill one purpose, the same can be said for Alexa skills. For example if you wanted a Domino’s pizza, you’d use the Domino’s pizza skill to ask Alexa to order you a hot pie. Or if you wanted an Uber not a Lyft, you’d use Uber’s skill for Alexa.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with this system, except that it doesn’t feel as “natural”, which is something Amazon is hoping to change with its CanFulfillIntentRequest interface for developers. Basically what this does is that it lets developers tell Amazon what kind of questions their skills can answer, and from there in the event that a user asks Alexa something vague, Amazon can then cycle through various skills that could possibly match the command and make a suggestion to the user.
According to Amazon, “For example, if a customer asks, ‘Alexa, where is the best surfing today near Santa Barbara?’ Alexa can use CanFulfillIntentRequest to ask surfing skills whether they can understand and fulfill the request. A surfing skill with a database of California beaches might be able to both understand and fulfill the request, while one with a database of Hawaiian beaches might only be able to understand it. Based on these responses, Alexa would invoke the skill with the database of California beaches for the customer.”
That being said, Amazon does note that the feature is currently in beta so don’t expect it to be widely available just yet.