It has been almost two years that the Amazon Echo and the smart speaker devices with Alexa voice assistant have been on sale in the city and it can really be said that they have had extraordinary success. Alexa is a really powerful virtual assistant, clearly superior to its competitors (including Google Home), for its ability to answer questions as if it were a real person and for its ability to expand its functionality, becoming practically universal and compatible with virtually any "Smart" device.
The great advantage of Amazon Alexa is represented by the Skills, which are a bit like applications on a smartphone. Since anyone can create new skills for Alexa and it's not too difficult to do it either, he has created a real store of skills to add, for free, to your Amazon Echo, for the most diverse functions.
In the list of Skills, the most popular and installed are certainly those for listening to music, for hearing news and for controlling smart devices such as lights and electrical sockets. However, there are also many other skills, to listen to meditation sounds, to do gymnastics, to play, to listen to children's fairy tales and much more.
It is therefore time to make a list of the best Alexa skills, the ones that are worth activating, installing and trying because they are useful, which give new functions and abilities to the Echo speaker, which cover a wide range of uses.
NOTE: To install a skill on Echo you can search for it on the Alexa app on your smartphone or, more easily, open the Alexa Skill site on the PC, log into the same Amazon account used on the Echo and then, when choosing a skill, press the yellow activation button. Automatically, this will be activated on your Echo and you can tell Alexa "Open skill-name" or "Ask skill-name blablabla".
Note that it is also possible easily create new skills with questions with answers for Alexa free and easily for everyone, thanks to the Blueprints site.
1) Skill to read the news of the day
Some Skills are added instead to the Daily Summary, that is to the news that you listen to by asking Alexa "tell me today's news". From the Alexa App on Android or iPhone, you have to go to Settings and then to Daily Summary where you can sort the news sources (in order to decide which ones are listened to first) and then also activate or deactivate them as and when you want. From this screen you can also add other news sources among which, the best for me, is that of TGCom24, very quick and complete. Those who then have the Echo Show can also see the news headlines on the screen.
Among the news you can also add the Weather, a skill that must always be installed.
BONUS: You can also add the Alexa daily summary skill at bestresourcesnow.com, to have the titles of the latest published articles read (it's very simple, but thanks if you install it).
2) Look up on Wikipedia
With the SearchWiki Skill it is possible to do searches on Wikipedia, so that you can ask for information on anything, with data taken directly from the Wikipedia site.
3) Find Phone
This is really a useful function to add to your Amazon Echo, which allows you to know, on request, where the phone is by making it ring. To configure this skill, you must first activate Find Phone on Alexa, then install the Phone Finder app for Alexa on the Android smartphone and follow the wizard written on the description page of the skill.
4) Remaining credit and gig left on the mobile
Some mobile phone operators have released Alexa skills so that you can ask the voice assistant for information on remaining credit, promotions and other phone subscription data. Among the skills of this type there are Tobi from Vodafone then also TIM and MyFastweb
5) Take notes
With the Take Notes skill you can dictate notes to Alexa to write. Later you can also add other notes and have what has been written reread. At the end it is possible to receive via email all the written notes. It works well and is very useful
6) Phone book
While not perfect, the phone book skill is perhaps the only one available at the moment that allows you to look up the phone number of someone, shop or office on White Pages.
7) Look up the meaning of words
The Treccani vocabulary skill is the best for knowing the meaning of words.
8) Look for recipes to cook
GialloZafferano's skill allows you to search for recipes, know ingredients and be guided to prepare any dish.
9) Listen to bedtime stories
There are numerous skills for listening to bedtime stories for children, one of the best is the Storyteller.
10) Learn English
Among the Alexa skills for learning and perfecting listening and pronunciation in English is that of Oxford, official, with several episodes and readings to listen to.
11 ) Horoscope
who wants to know how it will go today, can have Alexa tell the horoscope by installing a skill like that of Paolo Fox
12 ) What they do on TV today
The TV guide is one of the most useful skills to have on Alexa, to know what they are doing on TV at all times.
13 ) Relaxing sounds
A really rich Alexa skill category is relaxing or sleeping sounds, including piano sounds, Tibetan bells, nature sounds, and more.
14 ) Radio in streaming
Virtually all national and even local radios have a skill that allows you to listen to broadcasts live. Searching for radio skills you can choose which one to add and then access listening from the Amazon Echo. There are Radio Deejay, 105, Kiss Kiss, RDS, Virgin Radio, RTL 102.5, RadioRai and many others.
You can also activate the TuneIn skill, to have all the radios in the world at your fingertips. Tunein is activated from the Alexa app by going to Settings> Music.
15 ) How to dress today
You can ask Alexa for advice on what to wear today to go out with the Dress Assistant skill, which responds by checking the weather in your city.
17 ) Workouts at home
You can ask Alexa to give us a training program to follow with the 7 Minute Quick Workout skill (there are more to try too)
18 ) Alexa games
There are tons of games on Alexa, most of which are made up of questions to be answered, to play alone or with friends. We can scroll through a list of games on this page and find skills like Clem Quiz, True or False, Question of the Day, Trivial Pursuit, Escape Room, Akinator the genius.
Finally, there are specific skills that can be activated from the Alexa App, by going to Settings. Among these we have:
- Add TVs to control (such as Fire TV or Sony Android TV). - Add streaming music services like spotify or Apple Music (- Personalize sports news
- Add a Skype account to make phone calls (remember that with Alexa you can call Amazon users for free)
Other skills then allow you to manage home automation, sockets, lights, heating and cooling systems, robot vacuum cleaners and so on. Depending on the brand, you will have to activate the skill designed for managing that particular device.
For other features, you can also use the IFTTT online service with Alexa (see how IFTTT is used here).
Best Alexa Skills to Activate on Amazon Echo