A big key to the enduring success of Amazon’s Alexa has been the “skills” feature, essentially plugins for Echo that you can download to expand Alexa’s capabilities. In today’s post, we cover the 10 best Alexa skills for your new Echo, Dot, or Tap.
1. TV Shows
At some point during the week (or maybe even a couple of times a day), you’ll forget what time or what channel a show is on. No more looking it up on websites or in a paper TV Guide with the TV Shows skill enabled; simply ask Alexa to ask TV Shows when (insert show name here) airs, and you’ll get both the channel and date of the next airtime.
2. Find My iPhone by TrackR
Alexa can locate any device for you by way of the TrackR skill and the special Bravo tags and Atlas plugs associated with it. Bravo tags are Bluetooth tags that you can affix to pretty much anything, which comes in very handy when you’ve misplaced your keys. Simply ask Alexa where one of your tagged devices is, and she’ll respond with the room it is currently in. There’s an app that also allows this functionality to extend to your phone (provided your phone isn’t the item that’s missing!)
With The Bartender skill active, you’ll never need another cocktail book again. It boasts a library of 12,000 drink recipes and growing — just give it the name of the libation you’re looking for you to get the recipe back in return. You can also ask for suggestions based on a particular ingredient, or for drinks that are similar to another drink. If Alexa doesn’t recognize your drink name, it will list off the five closest matches.
4. Juke Box
If you fancy yourself a radio broadcaster, or would just like to record short announcements or reminders to be broadcast throughout the house, Juke Box is the skill to pick up. You can record clips of up to 10 seconds of audio, then have Alexa either play back individual clips or cycle through them on command. The unique feature of it is that you can upload these sounds to a shared database that all other Alexa users can access if desired, and have Alexa automatically play back what’s newest or most popular among community uploads.
Automatic is an adapter that can be added to most vehicles that makes the car’s internal data available remotely — things like the current fuel and oil levels, mileage and any engine problems, for example. Add the Automatic skill and Alexa can give you this information upon request at any time.
Give Alexa the airline and flight number, and she’ll tell you when it’s scheduled to land once Landing Times is enabled. Just about all of the major airlines are now supported, and the information is drawn from the FlightAware website.
1-Minute Mindfulness gives you a quick meditation break on demand at any time. Just have Alexa open Mindfulness and specify the type of meditation you want to get a related sound effect — options such as forest, river, wind and chime sounds are available. It’s limited to one minute due to Alexa’s current limitations on sound playback time, but the team is working on expanding the sound playback time to as much as 30 minutes in the near future.
If you’re an Uber user, there’s a skill for that. Install Uber and you can ask for a ride at any time, including specifying special features like Uber SUV or Uber Black. After you’ve placed your order you can check the status, change your pickup location or cancel the ride with Alexa commands. The one limitation is that it can’t yet send a destination to the driver — you’ll have to tell them where you’re going when they arrive. But, since we know this is a highly partisan field – Lyft users will be glad to know there is a Lyft skill as well!
This is a fun one for the kids. Some reviewers claim the stories are redundant, but most users have had great experiences with this skill. The stories are entertaining, and despite Alexa’s sometimes monotone recitation, kids really love listening to them.
You can also enable these skills directly from the Alexa Web Portal or Alexa App.