Alexa Skills can now read and modify your shopping and to-do lists

Late last year, Amazon added support for 3rd-party list managers to Alexa. This allowed services like Any.do or Todoist to take over list managing duties from Alexa, so saying “add eggs to my shopping list” would modify the 3rd-party list and not the list built into the Alexa app. For those not interested in using a 3rd-party list manager and just want to use Alexa’s built-in lists with some more features, Amazon is now allowing Alexa skill developers to read and modify your default Alexa shopping and to-do lists.

Alexa has two built-in default lists: a shopping list and a to-do list. You can ask Alexa to add items to either list and ask to hear what’s on the lists. Through the Alexa app, you can view the lists, mark items on a list as completed, or modify a list. That’s the extent of Alexa’s list managing capabilities.

The newly added developer options allow Alexa skills to manage the two built-in lists. Alexa skills wanting to access your lists will first need to request permission to access the lists, at which point Alexa will ask you if it’s okay for the particular skill to read and/or edit your lists. List reading and writing permissions are handled separately, so it’s possible to grant an Alexa skill one but not the other.

Once granted permission, Alexa skills can read list items, add new ones, modify existing ones, and delete list items. This will hopefully spur the creation of Alexa skills that have more detailed list management options than what’s already capable by default.

Alexa cannot currently delete an item from a list. You can only do that through the Alexa app. This can be a sore spot for heavy list users since it’s not uncommon for Alexa to misunderstand a command and add the wrong item to a list. Currently, the only way to correct those mistakes is to manually do so in the Alexa app. There is also no way to ask Alexa to mark an item on your to-do list as completed.

Third party Alexa skills will now be able to manage Alexa lists beyond the capabilities of Alexa itself, so hopefully some new skills will emerge that can delete items, update items, mark items as completed, and much more.

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