Try these 19 skills with your Amazon Alexa device

If you got an Echo or Echo Dot for Christmas and just don't know what to do with it, here are some ideas to get you started.

Posted: Jan 5, 2018 12:53 PM

Amazon has sold tens of millions of its Alexa devices, the Echo, Echo Tap and Echo Dot. The most popular gift of 2017 on Amazon.com was the Echo Dot -- the second time that's happened in the last two years.

These hockey-puck-shaped personal assistants are remarkable on their own but if you know where to look, you can set up your Echo Dot to be even more helpful (and fun).

Here are some of my favorite "Alexa Skills" you may want to try yourself.

  1. Ask Alexa to play your favorite song, artist or genre of music just by saying "Alexa play..."
  2. Ask to hear the latest song or album from an artist.
  3. Ask Alexa to play "that song that goes..." sing or say a few words and she'll likely find the right one.
  4. Ask Alexa to play music for a dinner theme such as "play music for Taco Tuesday."
  5. Ask Alexa to tell you a joke.
  6. Ask Alexa to play Jeopardy or "Rock Paper Scissors."
  7. If you can't find the dice for your favorite board game ask Alexa to "roll the dice."
  8. Ask Alexa to wake you up at a certain time to your favorite song or artist.
  9. Amazon Prime members can ask for special discounts available only to Alexa owners by asking "what are your deals?"
  10. Ask Alexa to read your kids a bedtime story (when you're too sleepy yourself). She'll even read a different story for different children by teaching her their names and age.
  11. Guitar players can throw out their string-tuner and let Alexa hit the right notes.
  12. If you enable the "MySomm" skill you can ask Alexa for suggestions on which wine goes with different food. "What wine goes with pizza?"
  13. When I'm writing at my desk I frequently ask Alexa for help with spelling a word.
  14. Ask Alexa to set a timer.
  15. Enable the 7-minute workout skill and she'll guide you step by step through a quick workout.
  16. Enable the Meow skill and Alexa will purr to your cats when you're away. You'll need to test this one out to see if your cats like this one.
  17. Enable the All Recipes skill and Alexa can offer suggestions for dinner with recipes based on what you have in your fridge and pantry.
  18. Ask Alexa for the forecast and for the latest news or sports score.
  19. Ask Alexa to add something to a shopping list and you'll have it on your phone when you get to the store.

There are more than 15,000 Alexa skills you can search through in the app, and the number is growing fast. On the local level some schools have built their own Alexa skill that will tell families what's on the lunch menu for the day.

Once you get an Amazon Echo device, the fun is just beginning and you may soon discover you need one of these digital assistants in more than one room.

What's the skill you use most often?

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