Your Amazon Echo only gets smarter from here.
Once you’ve become familiar with all of the commands that come included with your Amazon Echo, it’s time to make this little bundle of microphones even smarter by adding some Skills. These are like apps you can add to your Echo and control entirely with your voice, and there are thousands of them to choose from. To help narrow things down a bit and help get you started, I’ve assembled a list of some of my favorites.
Ordering from Amazon
This isn’t exactly a feature you have to add, but it’s a feature that grows on a regular basis. You can ask Alexa to order something new, repeat and order you’ve made before, and check on an order that hasn’t been delivered yet.
The best part of this? It includes Amazon Prime Now as long as you specify which Amazon you want to order from. That means instead of waiting until tomorrow for your Amazon order to arrive, you can ask for delivery from Prime Now and get it within two hours.
Call for a ride
Ride sharing apps can’t really get much more convenient when you’re out and about, but at home your Amazon Echo figured out how to make things extra awesome. You can grab a ride from Uber or Lyft by adding the Skill to your Amazon account and linking to the ride sharing app on your phone. That way, when you call for a car, Alexa can hand the request off to the right folks and you can keep your phone in your pocket.
Send a text with your voice
My Amazon Echo is most useful when I’m in the kitchen and my hands are covered in something I don’t want on my phone, so being able to text through the Echo is a big deal. The SMS with Molly Skill lets you speak who you want to send a message to, turn your voice into text, and send that message without ever needing to touch a phone.
This Skill requires a little set up before you use it, so the app has access to your contacts, but once you get it set the way you want it this is a great tool to have.
Control your television
Nobody likes fighting over the remote control, and sometimes kids think they’re slick and hide it so you can’t snatch it up and turn everything off from the other side of the room. Fortunately, Logitech and Amazon have your back with the Harmony Skill.
This Skill requires you to own a Logitech Harmony Hub, but if you make that investment you’ll be able to turn the television on and off with your voice whenever you want.
Grab a new recipe for dinner
I’m always looking for new things to try in the kitchen, and more often than not my searches land my on something from Allrecipes. The Alexa Skill for Allrecipes keeps my phone in my pocket, allowing me to ask for new recipes and get a step-by-step walkthrough of what I need to do when I pick something to make.
Ask the Mixologist for a new drink
Making the perfect drink for your mood is usually something for veteran bartenders to handle, but the Mixologist Skill is a nice fill-in for when you’re at home and need something tasty. This app will break down thousands of different recipes so anyone can make something fun, and if you’re truly not sure what to make you can call out for a random recipe and see where Alexa takes you.
Jump into a quick workout
Guided audio workouts are nothing new, but the 7-Minute Workout Skill makes sure you’re able to quickly burn some calories no matter what time of day it is. This Skill runs you through the 7-Minute Workout without needing to turn on a television or prop up a phone, making is one of the best ways to quickly get your sweat on.
See if your friend is cheating
I trusted you, Grandma…
That feeling of betrayal when you realize Grandma was just making rules up when you played Monopoly as a kid stays with you for a whole. Whether someone is cheating on purpose or stuck in a “family rules” loop, Board Game Answers will set everyone straight when you ask for the official rules in many different games.
I trusted you, Grandma…
Make everyone laugh
Sometimes it’s fun to have Alexa entertain your guests, and the best way to do that is asking for a joke or trying to get your friends stuck in a puzzle. The Gollum Skill will ask everyone to participate in a game of riddles that doesn’t end in a twisted Stoorish Hobbit trying to eat you, and is great for a laugh. If all of your friends aren’t huge nerds, the Alternative Facts Skill will get a good laugh from everyone paying attention to the news nowadays.
Fall fast asleep
Alexa is great for grabbing music from dozens of sources, but with the Sleep and Relaxation Sounds Skill you can ease that down to the sound of a babbling brook or a distant thunderstorm. It’s just enough to chill you out or put you to sleep, and will fade away into silence after playing for a while.