Alexa, the obedient and intelligent personal assistant, can perform some really impressive things that too very speedily and accurately. These are known as Amazon Alexa Skills. You will not feel bored when you are alone at home when you have such an intelligent and smart companion with you.
Alexa’s functionality is powered by skills. In other words, skills are the capabilities designed to enhance the user experience. This leads to a more delightful experience making the user feel the power of artificial intelligence. Just as apps are for smartphone, skills are for Alexa.
The Skills offered by Amazon Alexa are absolutely free and has already passed 10,000 figure.
It doesn’t matter whether the Skill is useful or not but the love for Alexa by developers can be well gauged from the fact that the Amazon Cloud is gaining more and more new skills with every passing day.
Amazon Alexa can plan a cab for you, order for you a pizza and play some cool music to lighten up your mood. Alexa with its open APIs allows third party integration easier and this is what where Amazon takes a lead over Google Home and Apple Siri.
Let’s dig deeper and explore some of best Amazon Alexa Skills.
Alexa Skills for Entertainment
Just say the wake word “Alexa” and followed by your request for the song. BINGO!! The song gets played. You can play any song of your choice, any artist, and any genre.
In fact you can create your own playlists and stream your podcasts also. The device enables you to connect Echo to Spotify, Amazon Prime, TuneIn, iHeartRadio, Pandora.
You can also stream music of your choice and even can say thumbs up or thumbs down while listening to Pandora.
Get updated on latest scores and matches of your favorite teams. You can personalize your digital assistant to give you scores and schedules for NBA, NFL, NCAA, MLB, NHL and other.
3. Voice Skills:
Some skills such as Meow Skill will literally do the meowing and purring thing as if there was a real cat beside you.
Another one is Thunderstorm Sound Skill, which is again worth trying and in fact it is one of the most trending skill these days.
4. News & Information:
You can get a 5-minute briefing in form of news flash from any channel of your choice (should be Alexa supported) such as CNN, BBC.
You can just ask “Alexa, What’s my Flash briefing?” and Echo tells you all the news while you sit and drink coffee.
The History Channel brings a new Skill, This Day in History Skill, which enables a user to know what happened on that particular day in the history.
6. Playing Musical Instruments & beats:
Alexa even becomes your Guitar tutor through Guitar Tuner Skill. You need to keep trying to match a tune played by Alexa. If you want some beats in a rhythmic fashion then you have a Metronome Skill.
Feeling Bored? Have nothing to do? Ask Alexa to open up some innovative games for you.
Check out Games and Trivia section of Alexa app for some interesting games of your choice and pick one and start playing. Games such as Jeopardy 6; Tic Tac Toe; bingo ; 20 Questions; Abra, Question of the day; Guess my number etc keep you engaged all day.
If you want to try some thrilling and adventures games, then Amazon Alexa Skills have something similar for you. Try out The Magic Door and Hunt the Yeti games.
8. Board Games:
Rather than going through a long manual of instructions for your favorite board games such as Scrabble, Monopoly, etc. you can activate Board game Answers Skill and Alexa will help you understanding game rules.
“Alexa, ask Board Games how to play Snakes and ladders?”
9. Bed Time Stories:
Are you tired and exhausted from your office work and don’t have enough energy to tell a story to your kid at bed time?
Just enable bedtime Story Skill and Alexa will read the short story for your kid. Don’t forget to say “goodnight” to Alexa when you are done.
10. TV shows schedule:
TV Shows Skill will tell you which show will air at which time and on which channel. It will also let you know what is streaming on Amazon video or Netflix.
Enable fandango Skill, this will enable you to find movie shows running, nearby theaters and also show timings for a particular movie.
Alexa as a Home Assistant
12. Kitchen Assistant:
Alexa turns out to be a great kitchen assistant as it can turn on timers, tells you about expiry dates via My Chef Skill and adds items to your shopping list.
Trying to impress your guests and want a new and fresh recipe, then through Allrecipes Skill or Campbell’s Kitchen Skill you can explore around 60,000+ recipes. So get started with a chocolate cake recipe with an invocation to Alexa “Alexa, find me a chocolate cake recipe.”
14. Food Network Skill:
Watching Food Network and you want to cook the recipe currently been shown on TV? Alexa will do the needful. Invocation will be “Alexa, ask Food Network for the recipe on the TV.”
MySomm Skill offers perfect wine recommendations to go with your cuisine.
Enable the Bartender Skill or Mixologist Skill and ask Alexa to surprise you with an amazing Cocktail recipe.
15. Learning Crochet and Knitting:
Alexa comes with Yarn Over skill enabling one to learn knitting and crochet. Just ask “Alexa, ask Yarn Over, how do I triple crochet?”
16. Smart home with smart appliances:
Gone are the days when you picked smartphone and then open the app and then give command to Lights to get switched off. Why bothering all this while you can do it just with your voice.
Companies such as Philips, Lifx and Samsung have already integrated their smart appliances to Alexa. There are skills such as Lutron, Hue, Samsung SmartThings, Wemo, Control4, Vivint, harmony etc which are powering the concept of Smart home.
17. Vacuum Cleaner:
Appliances such as smart vacuum cleaners can just start and stop cleaning your hone at your voice command. You need to enable Neator Skill to use Neato Botvac Connected robot vacuum.
18. Hire someone to do your work:
Task Rabbit Skill allows you to make a request to TaskRabbit and get someone to clean your home, some plumbing work or even wash your car.
19. Fitness and Workout:
Want to know how many foot counts have you made in the day, then FitBit Skill is perfect for you. It will get connected to your Fitbit activity meter and will record everything.
20. Personal Fitness trainer:
Alexa can also be your good personal fitness trainer. 7-minute workout Skill enables Alexa to guide through a set of exercises for 7 minutes and make you Fit. Just invoke Alexa by saying “Alexa, start the 7-minute-workout”.
21. Placing Orders:
Alexa allows you to place order to your favorite items just by a single voice call. Suppose you forgot to get flowers for your wife on her birthday, Alexa allows you to connect to 1-800-Flowers Skill and place the order.
You can even book cab with just a voice command. Skills such as Uber will book an Uber cab for you.
23. Feeling Hungry?
There are some skills which make you order pizza from your favorite Domino’s or Pizza Hut without moving a finger. You need to enable Domino’s Pizza Skill or Pizza Hut Skill.
Try Restaurant Explorer Skill to find a nearby restaurant for your favorite cuisine.
If you are Amazon’s Prime member, you can ask “Alexa, what are the new deals”. It will tell you all deals with Amazon Prime. You can pick and place an order for that.
25. Finance and Banking:
Well, if you are a member of Capital One bank, then certainly Alexa can tell you your balance, last transaction history and a lot more. It can even pay your credit card bills and do other payments; you just have to enable Capital One Skill.
Alexa as a Business Assistant
26. Business Assistant:
Besides adding items to your to-do list, Alexa allows you to handle your calendar events as well. Ask “Alexa, what are my plans for Tuesday?”.
27. Stock Market:
You can also check the Stock prices of various companies by invoking as “Alexa, ask Opening Bell for StarBucks”. The Opening Bell Skill gets its data from Markit On Demand.
Amazon Alexa Travelling Skills
28. Planning a Vacation:
There is a skill called Kayak Skill which can help you planning a vacation within your budget. Features such as checking flights and prices are also enabled in Kayak. Invoke Alexa,” Alexa, ask kayak where can I go for $600”.
29. Airport Security Skill:
Airport Security Skill will tell you the last reported security wait times at the airport.
30. Plane landing time:
Going to pick someone from airport? Before stepping out ask the Landing Time Skill if the flight is on time or is delayed. Some of the airlines who have enabled their services on Alexa are Air Canada, American, Alaska, Delta, Hawaiian, Spirit, Southwest, Frontier, United, Porter and Virgin America.
31. Expected Time Skill:
MyETA Skill will enable you to estimate time for arrival from your home to any destination. Just invoke Alexa,” Alexa, ask MyETA for the time to drive to my office”.
32. What to expect Skill:
If you are pregnant, what to expect Skill is perfect for you. It will feed you with weekly tips, guidance on eating habits, and advice for to-be parents. It also helps to take care of your new born.
Time to do some meditation to relax your mind and body, ask “Alexa, open Meditation Timer”. For 1 minute mediation, there is a Mindfulness Skill and for some inspirational quotes we have Happy Days Skill.
WebMD Skill acts as your medical dictionary. Ask her about anything related to any disease, signs, symptoms, medicine & its side effects etc.
Through ELIZA skill, you feel as if you are talking to your psychologist.
Alexa Smartphone Skills
36. SMS with Alexa:
Are still giving honors to your fingers to do the SMS / text typing for you? Forget it. Let your voice do it for you, just like giving notes to a personal assistant.
SMS with molly does that desired work for you. Just invoke Alexa by saying,” Alexa, ask SMS with Molly to text Jane ‘I’ll be late tonight’”. Alexa will reconfirm the message with you and then send.
SMS with Molly is limited to two receivers only. For more receivers we have another skill named as AT & T Skill.
There is another skill linking your Slack Account with Alexa, Chat Bot Skill’.
37. Help in Emergency:
In case of Emergency, Alexa has Ask my Buddy Skill for you. After Invocation, “Alexa, ask my buddy to alert John”, will send notification to John in form of text, SMS or call.
It is indeed the mastermind of your Smartphone. You can not only send/receive sms but can do phone calling as well with Mastermind Skill. You can also start your Bluetooth, read saved stories, start various apps etc with just a voice command.
39. Locating Phone:
Thank You Alexa for designing this. People like me (often misplace my phone) were actually looking for this kind of skill. There is a skill called Where’s my phone Skill, which on invocation dials your number and your phone rings!!!!
There is another similar skill named as Trackr, which connects with your Trackr account and performs the similar operation.
Are you a kind of person who checks Horoscopes before stepping out or before performing any activity, then Alexa has a perfect pick for you. Yes!!! What’s my sign skill enables an individual to check your daily horoscope. Just invoke, “Alexa, ask what’s my sign for Virgo”.
Confused weather to carry umbrella or not? Alexa has a Skill named as ‘Big Sky skill’, Driven by Dark Sky, which will give you hyper-local weather forecast based on your address. It will give also information on humidity as well as wind speed.
Alexa enables you to speak in approximately 50 different languages by just enabling the Translator Skill. Take help from Alexa by saying, ”Alexa, ask translator to say ‘where is the parking’ in French’.
43. Skill for finding Skill:
You can anytime ask, “Alexa, what are your new skills?” and can update them with just your voice. The Skill Finder Skill helps you to discover new skills uploaded to the Amazon cloud.
Technical Amazon Alexa Skills
44. Data Integrity:
You can very well check your data integrity or data breach, with the help of have I been pwned Skill?. Phonetically pwned is pronounced as ‘poned’. You need to spell your email address/ username to check after the invocation “Alexa, open have I been Poned”.
45. Controlling Nest:
Nest is a smart thermostat which changes the room temperature according to the season, helping you to save on energy. With Nest Skill you can control the thermostat with your voice. Invoke Alexa by saying,” Alexa, trigger Nest to 75 degrees”.
Alexa has also been enabled to use other brand thermostats such as Honeywell Lyric and Ecobee3 thermostat.
46. Mars Skill:
If you are a person, who loves to know more about universe and Mars, then Alexa brings a Skill named as NASA Mars Skill. It will help you to know what’s all is happening on the Red planet.
47. Controlling your Car:
The Blue Link Skill enables the Hyundai cars, which have blue Link feature enabled, operate with voice commands using Alexa. You can have your car started and warmed before driving, lock the doors, temperature control inside the car, turn on lights and horn etc with just your voice.
Just connect your Alexa with twitter account and enable the twitter It will read all your retweets, likes, timeline, Mentions and will even read outs the trending topics.
49. Census Data:
By using census Data Skill about the census data like population, poverty rate, median income, gross income etc.
50. Interview Preparation:
Preparing for an interview? Enable the Interview prep Skill. This will help in your interview preparation by asking different questions suitable for the job you are going to apply.
51. Open Table:
With open Table Skill, you can reserve a table by providing your name, ZIP, email and phone number. It will search for all the reservations for next 2.5 hours.
52. Automatic Skill:
Even your car needs a diagnosis. Automatic Skill acts as a personal doctor for automobiles. It collects and maintains all the data related to car like how much you traveled, if you car’s gas is going to get finished.
Are All Amazon Alexa Skills really Useful?
Though Alexa has touched and passed an impressive figure on 10,000+ skills, but there has been a buzz in the market that majority of the Skills are either useless or are poorly designed and coded.
Due to poor design the response time suffers a lot and in some cases it is easier to use your smartphone or computer than waiting for Alexa to respond.
Let’s look at some of the worst Amazon Alexa Skills.
1. Remember your Keys Skill:
This Skill has only one feature to remind you about your keys and that’s it!!!. It invokes with “Alexa, open remember your keys”, it will reply with “do you have keys?”. If you reply yes, you can step out and if you say no, “it will say “GO, find your keys”.
Rather than going into such a useless conversation, sticking a note on your door is much useful.
2. Cork Ornaments:
Just to get a deal of the day with cork ornaments, you want to have this skill? I don’t think so. It is more of a choice work than picking up anything blindly.
I would prefer visiting website for my shopping indeed.
3. Egg Facts:
Do you really want to know about eggs and related trivia? Who on the earth wants this to waste time over it?? I would like to go for some recipe skills rather than wasting time on Stupid Egg Facts.
4. The Grand Tour:
This is one of the best examples for worst Skill. While listening to the name you must have imagined having a nice game plan but is it really??
It opens with a halfhearted chitchat from Hammond, May and Clarkson. They offer a trivia game unlocking so called “exclusive videos” and hinting about upcoming episodes. Rubbish!!!!
5. Moon Age Skill:
It is actually useful to people who want to know the age of moon and it has nothing else to offer. Only one feature!!! Strange!!!
You are actually asking Alexa to fart at various pitches. It’s not worst but is a hideous skill. Imagine invoking Alexa in front of anyone, “Alexa, ask 4 a fart”. Enjoy!!!
The Last Words
With time expect Amazon Alexa to have more skills. The list of bad skills will increase and the list for the best skills will change. Expect more and more skills to be integrated to Alexa.
I am expecting best practices to emerge when it comes to developing and designing skills.
Which is one skill that you would want in Alexa in the near future? Do let us know in your comments.