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5 of the Best Skills for the Amazon Echo – December 2017

Posted by Jamie on November 29, 2017

Just bought an Amazon Echo and want to know what to do next? Want some cool skills to make it worth owning this new digital assistant? Here are what I think are the five best skills for the Amazon Echo.

The Amazon Echo has gone down very well indeed since launch. Probably better than even Amazon’s own projections would have prophesied. It seems more people than ever want to control their home with their voice and the Echo and Alexa gets it done. Left on its own, the Amazon Echo is pretty clever. Add skills and things begin to get very interesting indeed.

Once you’re set up, here are five things you might like to try.

Most of these skills will need to be configured in advance using the Alexa app.

Morning routine

I don’t know about you but my mornings are a little busy. I wake up, have a shower, get breakfast and then need to get working as quickly as possible. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could listen to news headlines, the weather and then traffic while doing that?

To set up Flash Briefing, you will need to use your Alexa app to set it up. Navigate to Settings and then Flash Briefing. From there, select the news, weather and anything else you might like to listen to. Turn Flash Briefing and Weather to on and then Edit Order to choose when each is provided.

Then ask Alexa ‘What’s my flash briefing?’ Then ‘What’s the weather?’ and then ‘How is traffic?’.

You will need to set up locations for traffic within the Traffic part of Alexa. You just select a start point, presumably your home and then an end point, your place of work. Alexa does the rest.

Get a ride

If you don’t feel like driving, you can have Alexa order an Uber or Lyft for you. Ask it ‘Alexa, ask Uber/Lyft for a ride’ or ‘Alexa, ask Uber how much a ride to work would cost’. Alexa takes care of the rest.

Again, you will need to set up Uber or Lyft in the Alexa app beforehand including linking your Uber or Lyft account to Amazon and providing a payment method. Once set up, you can order a ride whenever you like by voice.

 

Keep your pets company

A uniquely useful skill if you spend a lot of time out of the house is the ability for the Amazon Echo to keep your cats company. Using the Meow skill Alexa can hold a cat conversation that can help stop your feline friends being lonely while you’re out.

My cat seemed more confused than entertained. She would look around for the source of the noise, not identify anything worthy of her attention and then go back to sleep. I think if your cat is more interested, or intelligent you may get a lot more mileage out of this Amazon Echo skill.

Order pizza

It is often the little things that give us the most joy. The ability to order a pizza just by using your voice is definitely one of those little things. Currently Domino’s and Pizza Hut offer Alexa skills. Add either or both of these to Alexa and you can order your food just by asking.

You can then say ‘Alexa, open Domino’s’ or Alexa, open Pizza Hut’ as required. Once you have ordered your food, you can then use Alexa to track it with ‘Alexa, ask Domino’s to track my order’.

The utility of this depends on where you live and the services offered by the outlets in your area. You will need to install the skills and then set up an account with the relevant company beforehand, but once done, ordering pizza takes just a second.

Learn a language

In an increasingly multicultural society, I find myself at a disadvantage by only being able to speak English. Use the Translator skill for Alexa or one of the many language learning skills and you can learn a language, translate a word and communicate in a multitude of languages.

It’s just a shame you cannot take your Amazon Echo out with you when going to the store!

Those are what I think are five very cool skills for the Amazon Echo. There are literally hundreds of them to choose from that cover everything from fitness to recipes, pregnancy advice to first aid. All of them offer some degree of utility to different people. Those I have selected can be all things to all people though, plus I use them and love them!

Got any other skills for the Amazon Echo you want to share? Tell us about them below if you do!

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