If you have just been introduced to Alexa and you’re not quite sure what to do, you are not alone. Echo devices can do a vast array of things, it’s difficult to know where to start! Aside from the basic features programmed by Amazon in Alexa, there are thousands of skills that are made by third-party developers which increases the smart speaker’s functionality a hundred folds. Here are just 25 cool things Alexa can do so you can begin unlocking her true potential:
1. Read books: In the companion app under the Kindle Book section, you’ll find the titles that Alexa can read to you. Then simply say “Alexa, read [book title]” and she will read the content aloud. This is very useful for those who like to read but don’t have time to sit down for hours at a time.
2. Give precise weather updates: Get hyperlocal weather reports and forecasts through a third-party skill called Big Sky. It will tell you detailed information about the current and upcoming weather from where you are. If you ask Alexa when the rain will start and stop at your location, she will give you a report so accurate it borders to being creepy.
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3. Find your lost phone: Whenever you misplace your phone, you can now ask Alexa to help you find it. She will call your phone and if it isn’t on silent mode, you should hear it ring. She can’t help you though if your device is set on silent.
4. Help you relax: The sound of falling rain, a crackling fireplace or ocean waves can actually help you calm your mind. If you have trouble falling asleep, Alexa can help you relax by playing ambient sounds on loop.
5. Know what happened on this day in history: The This Day in History skill is one of the most popular Alexa skill. When you say, “Alexa, launch This Day in History,” and she will give you historical facts that happened today or on any other day of the year.
6. Call you a cab: You can use your Amazon Echo to call you a cab through the Uber or Lyft skill. Just say the words “Alexa, call me a taxi” and a car will show up at your door minutes later. Matt Wyndowe, Uber’s head of product partnerships, said, “We used to say push a button get a ride, now with the help of Alexa you don’t have to lift a finger.”
7. Order pizza: You can ask Alexa to order pizza for you through the Domino’s and Pizza Hut skill. Getting pizza delivered to your door has never been this easy!
8. Plan your vacation: There are tons of skills available in the Alexa database to help you plan your next vacation. The Kayak skill can give you information about airfares and also book your hotel. OpenTable can arrange your reservations at the restaurant of your choice. You can even estimate your arrival time with the My ETA skill.
9. Clean your house: Nobody likes cleaning unless you’re one of those people who find chores relaxing. Good thing that your Amazon Echo can help clean your house by connecting your Neato or Roomba to your Alexa. Just say, “Alexa, as Roomba to start cleaning” and your trusty vacuum cleaner will set out to do its job.
10. Tune your guitar: The skill Guitar Tuner plays a note that’s in tune, and then you can tune the note on your guitar until it matches what it’s supposed to sound like. This is skill is very helpful for guitar players unless you are a pro at tuning by ear.
11. Roll dice: Have a board game but lost the dice? Alexa can come to the rescue. You can have Alexa roll a single die or multiple dice. You can even ask her to roll a 20-sided die.
12. Help you exercise: Get fit and turn Alexa to your very own personal fitness trainer by enabling skills like Fitness Guru, My Workouts, HiFit Home: Workouts, 5-Minute Plank Workout, My Gorgeous Trainer and 7-Minute Workout.
13. Give recipes: Alexa can help you add items to your shopping list and help you cook meals. The Best Recipes skill will give you breakfast, lunch and dinner recipes with the ingredients you have on hand if you’re not in the mood to go grocery shopping. You can also get the best cooking tips and recipes from the Cook’s Illustrated skill.
14. Make your to-do-list: Adding tasks to your to-do-list is pretty straightforward with Alexa. Just tell her what you need to do or what to buy and she will add it to the correct list. And because Alexa is a platform that other services can link to, your to-do list can also be integrated with other apps.
15. Turn on the lights: The Amazon Echo is capable of controlling your smart lights, plugs, and switches which means you can ask Alexa to turn your lights on or off with just your voice. But the smart speaker can do so much more than that. As long as you integrate your smart devices to Alexa, she’ll be able to control them.
16. Get local news: Alexa has a built-in Flash Briefing skill that keeps you updated of the day’s news but there are more skills that you can integrate to offer in-depth reports on certain topics.
17. Get nutrition facts: Track by Nutritionix is a cutting-edge food tracking application that will help you make healthier food choices. You can ask Alexa for the detailed nutrition information of thousands of common foods. This skill makes it easy to enter the food you are eating and give you the total number of calories to track your food intake.
“Our mission is to make it easier for people to understand what they eat. Through the launch of our Amazon Alexa skill, we are excited to enable millions of Amazon Alexa users to better understand and keep track of the foods they eat every day, ” said Matt Silverman, Director of Product, Nutritionix.
18. Track your Amazon packages: If you bought something from Amazon, you won’t need to grab your phone or go to your computer to know when your package will arrive. You can now ask Alexa to track your Amazon orders.
This skill only works for Amazon packages so if you have a FedEx, UPS or USPS, your Amazon Echo won’t be able to give you shipment details unless you enable a third-party skill that specializes in tracking orders.
19. Let you have a Batman-themed adventure: You can join the investigation of the murder of Bruce Wayne’s parents if you enable The Wayne Investigation skill. Alexa will guide you through the choose-your-own-adventure game and it can take anywhere from 5 to 40 minutes to crack the case, depending on how you play.
20. Ask your friends for help: The AskMyBuddy Skill allows you to ask for help through Alexa if ever you are in an emergency situation and your phone is out of reach. The skill will send out alert messages sent by voice call, SMS text message, and email to one or multiple predetermined contacts as soon as you give the command.
The co-founder of AskMyBuddy.net, Pat Coggins said, “Our vision is to get help to the end user no matter which device or service they may use. Many of our users already have an in-home alert device but do not always wear them around the house, and integrating their existing service with Ask My Buddy would provide the additional security of voice activation from anywhere in the home.”
21. Find restaurants: Ask Alexa on where to get pizza or Chinese food and she will tell you Yelp-powered recommendations on where to find them. There is also a useful skill called Random Restaurant that picks a random restaurant for you to go to if you can’t decide where to get food.
22. Tell jokes: Alexa is pretty serious about doing tasks for you but she also has a humorous side. Without any third-party skills, Alexa can still give jokes if you know what to ask. Try the following when you are near your Echo: Alexa, how much do you weigh? · Alexa, do you have any pets? · Alexa, will you be my girlfriend? · Alexa, I’ve got 99 problems · Alexa, what is the value of pi? · Alexa, do you know Siri? ·Alexa, what do you think about Cortana? · Alexa, I am your father · Alexa, my name is Inigo Montoya . Alexa, what do you want to be when you grow up?
23. Schedule reminders: You can set up reminders so Alexa will remind you when a task or appointment is due. You can create an alarm for Alexa to wake you in the morning or alert you need to go somewhere or do something. Forget about forgetting!
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24. Check traffic: Alexa has a built-in skill that provides the estimated duration and quickest route to take for your daily commute. You can say, “How is traffic?”, “What’s my commute?” or “What’s traffic like right now?” and Alexa will let you know what the roads look like before you even leave the house.
25. Shop: This one is pretty obvious but you can place and cancel your Amazon orders using Alexa.
About Jeroen van Gils
Jeroen van Gils is a content writer at Olelo, a German based startup. Olelo is an innovative platform for Alexa Skills.