Congratulations! You finally purchased that hot new Amazon Echo (or Echo Dot, Echo Tap, Echo Show, Echo Spot – any item from the Echo family) you’ve been wanting. You protected it from harm, with SANUS bumper guards. Or you mounted it on the wall, where it’s safe from kids and pets but easily voice-accessible. Now it’s time to put Alexa to work!
She’s getting smarter every day.
Did you know there are now more than 7,000 skills you can choose for her via the Alexa app store? Obviously, some of them are silly and pointless, but many can make your life, health, and finances a lot easier to manage and – let’s be honest here – a lot more fun.
Some skills are generic, whereas many are product or service-specific based on their partnerships. And these collaborations are growing everyday as more and more companies are scrambling to join with Amazon/Alexa.
Alexa’s skills are truly mind-boggling. In some cases, they’re also voice-boggling as she struggles to understand you. Patience, friends. As already noted, she’s getting smarter every day.
So What Can Alexa Do for Your Home Tech Today?
Remember that movie you wanted to watch but can't think of the name? Alexa's Valossa Movie Finder can help with that. Want to keep updated on current events and scores of your favorite sports teams? Alexa can do that, too. She can also order pizza from Domino's, share recipes to boost your culinary or mixology skills, call up a ride on Uber or Lyft, or plan your trip on local public transit.
Here are some other things Alexa can do.
- Teach you something, with the latest TED Talk or any number of skills that reveal factoids – or Alternative Facts
- Get stock quotes and make trades, with TD Ameritrade
- Manage your CapitalOne credit card account, even make payments (you’ll have a 4-digit PIN for added security). You can ask her about the balances of your different accounts and find out bill due dates.
- Play soothing sounds for background, meditation or snoozing, with Zen Garden, 1-Minute Mindfulness, and Native American Flute. To begin, ask “Alexa, open Meditation Timer” or “Alexa, open Guided Meditations”
- Update your weather report – for Mars or Outer Space. For Martian specific weather, say “Alexa, ask Martian Weather for today’s Mars weather report”
- Or help you decide what to eat, with Food Selection
- Still can’t decide? Alexa will flip a coin for you
- Play trivia games such as Jeopardy or the Ultimate Sports Quiz or World Master Game or Akinator (remember “20 questions”?). You can start a game as easily as saying “Alexa, open trivia game”
- Transform you into a detective with The Wayne Investigation (“Open Wayne Investigation”), so you can solve the murder
- Make you laugh, with hilarious (if sometimes a bit off-color) Pickup Lines, Nerdy Pickup Lines, Yo-Momma Jokes
- Amuse the kids, with Sesame Street or The Magic Door, a participatory storytelling skill by saying “Alexa, open Sesame Street”
- Help you stay fit, with connections to Fitbit, 7-Minute Workout (or 5-Minute Plank Workout), Yoga Trainer and ALOP-Pilates-Class
- BUY, BUY, BUY from Amazon (of course), by connecting your Echo to your Prime account
- Integrate with IFTTT, the better to connect all your apps and devices
- Or integrate with SmartThings, to control everything home management devices such as thermostats and lights (you’ll the spendy SmartThings hub, however)
There’s even an app for your dog or cat. Now that’s a tail-wagger. But beware the day when your pet can communicate directly with Alexa.