The changing of the seasons means it is time once again to check in on the latest and greatest “skills” for Alexa, the A.I. assistant behind Amazon’s insanely popular Echo line of smart home hubs—the Echo, Echo Dot, and now, the video-enabled Echo Show.
Informative, entertaining, educational, and somewhat absurd, these skills will breathe new life into your intelligent in-home assistant.
(All Alexa Skills are free to download.)
If you have an audio-driven assistant in your home, chances are you are a fan of audio-based entertainment—like podcasts. AnyPod is an essential skill for pod fans—or the pod curious—as it has indexed thousands of podcasts, with more added each day, which users can access simply by saying the title. Control doesn’t end at play out either. AnyPod users can pause, fast forward, rewind or skip to a specific point in the podcast simply by saying “Alexa, ask AnyPod to start playing at 12 minutes and 25 seconds.”
Out Of Milk
Adding an item to your shopping list is as simple as saying it out loud with the Out Of Milk skill—a useful ability when you are perusing the fridge with nary a pen or paper nearby. The Out Of Milk skill will automatically sync to your smartphone so you can easily access your updated shopping list when you’re out on the town.
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Need the latest financial and tech industry news with your coffee each morning—or anytime of day? The Cheddar skill brings the hip, young network’s web-savvy brand of business reporting—broadcast daily from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange—into your breakfast nook with the latest news, CEO interviews and business profiles.
Of course, everyone in your house may not be enthralled with financial news—especially those who prefer Elmo to equities. Fortunately, there is the Sesame Street skill, which will allow fans to talk directly with the aforementioned furry friend, who offers daily educational games and imaginative play, and is always up for a round of hide and seek.
Fantasy Football Pick or Sit
The return of fall means the return of (American) football, and more importantly, the return of fantasy football. For all its finer points, fantasy football can fill its adherents’ weekends with anxiety, aggravation and regret as they decide how to set their final line-up. The Fantasy Football Pick or Sit skill hopes to mitigate the more gut-wrenching aspects of the game by offering informed decisions on who you should play or rest each week. Simply say the two players under consideration and the skill will offer you crunched data—giving you a recommendation based on the opinions of leading fantasy experts.
Enliven any family announcement or mirror-based monologue with Drum Roll, a skill that does exactly what it sounds like—produces a drum roll on command.
Sleep Sounds: Cat Sounds
The Alexa Skill Store is lousy with “white noise machine” skill sets—from wind chimes to rain on tent and everything in between—but this may be the most charming available: Cat Sounds. Activate and you’ll immediately hear the comforting purr of a pleasantly pleased pussycat, perfect for relaxing or falling asleep. Bonus: It’s cheaper than owning an actual cat and you’ll never have to change a litter box.
President Trump Tweets
Does your finger hover over the Twitter app each morning, queasy with anticipation over what the 45th president of the United States may have posted to the social network in the early morning hours? Experience this nausea in a new fashion with the President Trump Tweets. When called upon, the skill will read back President Trump’s five most recent tweets.
Perhaps you need a little pick-me-up—or a palate cleanser after reading a certain someone’s timeline. Enable the Nice Bot skill and you can call upon a robot friend to pay you a compliment—or just share some cheer—whenever you need it. Think of it as a semi-sentient self-care machine.
If Nice Bot can’t keep you in high spirits, you can always keep tabs on a potential apocalypse. The Near Miss skill will keep you informed about “close calls” —objects, typically asteroids, that have intersected Earth’s orbit—allowing you and Alexa to put the old adage “ignorance is bliss” to test.
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