I got 99 Alexa skills and clicking ain’t one

In the words of Jay Z, I got 99 skills and clicking ain’t one.

I got 99 Alexa skills and clicking ain’t one

In the words of Jay Z, I got 99 skills and clicking ain’t one.

by Harpal Singh on Unsplash

Over the last 18 months, I have used many Alexa skills and wanted to share those that I have used. Unfortunately, I don’t have 99 skills to talk about today (I know I am gutted too) but I do have 52 that have become near daily uses within my home.

Let’s get straight to it.

1. “Set Alarm for 6AM”

Alarms are always good, but when you can turn it off without getting out of bed then you must be slightly careful of the snooze.

2. “Wake me up to ‘I like to move it move it’

Just like how we used radio to wake us up in the 90s, you can now very easily wake up yourself, or those in your house needs some morning motivation to the tune of either their favourite or not so favourite song.

3. “Add Milk to shopping list”

Being able to add items to a list as you take the near-empty milk bottle out of the fridge or the last dishwasher tablet. Having multiple lists is great too for weekly or monthly shops is a life saver.

4. “Set Timer for 5 minutes”

Hands are covered in meat as you put the chicken in the oven, there has never been a lovelier phrase as “set timer”, enabling you to continue on with your task.

5. “Set Meat Timer for 5 minutes” , “Set Prep Timer for 2 minutes”

The one recent improvement to timers has been the ability to name them; you can imagine when you have all the pots on the go for a Sunday roast, and Alexa starts buzzing at you, it is helpful to know which timer has finished.

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6. “Turn on heating for 1 hour”

In most houses, this would mean turning on a device like a Nest thermostat which would be awesome, due to the poor heating setup currently in my house this will turn on and off an electric heater for 1 hour. Great for taking the edge off when a cold morning around the house.

7. “Play True or False”

Games in the house are awesome, and a quick bit of trivia with the kids around ‘Is this true or false’ is fun. Also helps the kids learn that not everything you read or hear is not necessarily true.

8. “Would you rather”

Very fun over the dinner table, great examples of “Would you rather be a lump of cheese or a carrot”, this game is really fun and can be played by anyone age, so far the content seems appropriate for all ages.

9. “Dim lights”

We know how hard it is to get up off a sofa, walk for say 2 meters over to the light switch in the lounge and use our strength to switch it on or off, but can you imagine having to use your strength to turn a dimmer switch. Crazy I know, but don’t worry, if you add any smart lighting (such as Philips Hue) you can turn lights on, off, dim to a set level or even change colours (though the colour change is great for the first 24 hours and you will never use it again).

10. “Goto Bed”

Alexa has a great feature called routines; this enables you to set multiple tasks together, I find it great for using when going to bed. This route for me turn off all the lights in the house, sets particular lights to a dimmed state and turns on the house alarm.

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11. “Show me the front door camera”

If you have smart cameras such as the Nest or Ring systems you can get the feed on your Amazon Spot or Show. If you hear the doorbell ring or a knock at the door, you can easily see a feed of who is there, great for security as well as convenient if you’re upstairs.

12. “Turn on alarm”

Being able to enable the house alarm by voice is great, though it is important to know you don’t want to be able to disable the alarm by voice, as it would be fairly easily to disable it, so make sure you check the settings of the skill you add.

13. “What is the weather”

As the Alexa knows the postcode of where you live you can get top-level weather information of your area, this is particularly great on the Echo devices with a screen as you get to see a 5-day forecast as peripheral information.

14. “Is it going to rain today”

Thinking of going for a walk, deciding to take an umbrella with you or hang the washing out, then knowing if it is going to rain is a must. This feature gives you a percentage chance as well the current status if you don’t have any windows in your house.

15. “Find my phone”

If you can’t find your phone around the house, you can use a great skill that will call your phone, as I have the tile Bluetooth trackers I use “Ask tile to find my phone” which gets around also when the phone volume is turned off.

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16. “Drop in the Lounge”

If you have a house full of people, you can easily drop into another room to check on the kids fighting as well as to let them know its time for lunch. The spot can also be a very cost-effective security camera, place it facing the window, and you can drop in to watch.

17. “Call Nan”

The 1990s have called and the landline is back, though it is handy for calling those with less technology or having to mess around setting up Skype.

18. “Message Mum”

The Echo system has a great feature to leave a message for others, kinda like that crazy invention called a voicemail of the landlines of the 1990s.

19. “Turn on Fire TV”

If you have an Echo device and a Fire TV you can do something awesome, you can control the Fire TV from the echo device; the lazy person would use this to turn the TV on and off, though when you have lost your remote control, this is actually quite handy. Though it is very handy to pause the TV when in a different room.

20. “Watch Dinotrucks”

Using the FireTV stick you can instruct what you want to watch using the Alexa enabled remote, it can take it a few times to learn the crazy names of children’s TV programs, but after some training it gets good. The only downside is this also works on the devices such as the Echo Show which means the kids can start playing none child appropriate content whilst sitting in the kitchen.

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21. “Show me titles with Dwayne Johnson on Fire TV”

So firstly who doesn’t love the Rock, you can use the Fire TV stick, and the Alexa enabled remote to search your TV apps even by actress/actor.

22. “Ask Kids to get dressed”

If you ever want the kids to get their shoe’s on or to brush their teeth when your in a hurry, having the ability to nag your kids is a good start. The fun starts when one child uses it to nag the other. A voice first world 😊.

23. “Play Radio 2”

I think playing the radio in most houses is the highest used command, and also the way most people find using the Echo device daily, keeping them hooked. Tune In has many many radio stations from around the world, and I have found blasting out some random stations from far away countries is a good educational tool also.

24. “Listen to Cars 2 Soundtrack”

Music is, of course, a key part of the Alexa platform, with the ability to hook up services such as Spotify, with the ability to search for your musical tracks by album artist or track name.

25. “Volume 4”

The Echo devices have a 1–10 volume range; you can easily change the level by saying 1 to 4, not rocket science.

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26. “Play this week in tech podcast”

As well as music and radio, you can play podcasts through the Alexa platform which is great; it is currently unfortunate that out of the box you can’t start on your Echo device and then jump onto a podcast app to resume then back to Echo at a later time.

27. “Set sleep timer for 30 minutes”

If your listening to music, podcast or stories to send or aid you off to sleep, then the sleep timer may be of value, being able to keep playing your sounds for X time. This could also be used as a passive security device if you desired.

28. “Play SPA music”

When you need that 5 minutes of quiet and relaxation, just blast out some SPA music to take you to a place of remote rest and seclusion.

29. “What’s in the news”

You can hook up flash briefings from different news channels; I have BBC news setup to get my morning summary that the world is still here. You can add news from the major new channels such as the Telegraph, Sky News and BBC Sport.

30. “What am I doing tomorrow”

After you have added your calendar to the Alexa platform, you can interact with your calendar by adding events and meetings, but the best feature is getting a summary of what you are doing tomorrow to ensure you haven’t missed something.

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31. “Tell me a knock knock joke”

It’s a classic and Alexa can tell many types of jokes, but you can’t beat a knock knock joke.

32. “Simon Says”

Repeats what you say after the “Simon says” part, though Alexa won’t swear when repeating back to you, it is great as a developer tool to test how Alexa will sound when repeating what you want to say.

33. “Pick a number between 1 and 100”

Can Alexa read your mind, try the number guessing game.

34. “Tell me about France”

General knowledge is where Alexa is great, pulling most of its insight/data from Wikipedia, you can get info on words, countries, languages, historical events. All these provide great for homework prep or just educating the family

35. “Ask question of the day”

You get a new question each day which multiple choice answers, the game enables you to build up points though this isn’t the reason to take part. The game keeps you on your toes of cultural literacy.

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36. “Ask Domino’s to feed me”

I have only tried this one once but it worked amazingly well, it makes me want a similar experience from the likes of Deliveroo so I can easily re-order a recent order or a suitable deal.

37. “Fitbit, how did I sleep last night”

If you use a Fitbit, getting up in the morning and you can check your sleep pattern of the night before, giving you that insight of the night as you start your day.

38. “Random Workout”

Says what you can imagine, want a workout, get some randomness, I have also tried 7-minute workout which is great when you have 7 minutes to spare.

39. “Pair my phone”

The Echo device also acts as a Bluetooth speaker, so if you have lots of music on your phone or want to use it to amplify your watching experience. You just have to pair your phone to the device just like you would a Bluetooth speaker.

40. “Show me a recipe for chicken”

Really only useful if you have the Echo Show or Spot with a screen, being able to search for recipes with what you have in the fridge and get a visually stunning guide through to cook. It would be +1 if you could in future have the ability to auto-create timers at the different steps of the cooking process.

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41. “Buy Kitchen Roll”

Purchasing household items is so easy via Amazon, you have to enable voice purchasing if you want your items just to get delivered, though if you want to keep some element of purchase protection then you can disable voice purchasing, but when you do say, Buy X, it will add it to your Amazon basket ready for you to order on a mobile or desktop.

42. “Turn on kettle”

So be careful with this one as it could be dangerous if you let the kettle be dry. So you wake up, you can walk downstairs and turn the kettle on, but that would be crazy right. Instead, you could use a WiFi plug and turn on your kettle or coffee machine from the bed, so the water is ready when you walk down the stairs, go one step further and even hook up to a motion sensor that detects when you start walking down the stairs.

43. “Where’s my stuff”

If you have an Alexa, then you are more likely to an Amazon customer and particularly an Amazon Prime user. You can use this command to check the status of your orders and where deliveries are currently.

44. “What’s my commute look like”

Get traffic info between home and work easily, since your home and work postcodes are setup within in the Alexa platform, you can easily get traffic updates to decide which route to take to the office.

45. “Flip a coin”

The best way to end any “discussions”.

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46. “What is 6 *54”

Be it homework, measuring cake mixture or just try adding up, asking basic math queries.

47. “How do you spell CAT”

Spelling words is great for both the adults and the children in the house.

48. “Are Bournemouth AFC Playing today”

I am not a football fan, but I leave near a football stadium, knowing if Bournemouth are playing at home or away and at what time can help.

49. “Switch Accounts”

If you have multiple Amazon accounts linked to your Echo devices you can switch between them, this can be handy in a shared house setting though I have found it useful also in the office environment.

50. “Beatbox”

Alexa can beatbox, its cool. Kids find it funny.

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51. “Read the hobbit”

If you have a kindle, you can get your books read aloud, though it won’t be with a voice actor and is the standard Alexa voice which can be too much when listening to a book due to the lack of tone. It is helpful if you are near the end of a book or chapter and want to get the last bit done, also your book bookmark will update where you finished listening up to.

52. “Make a fart sound”

Well you just have too, don’t you?

So that is all 52 skills, do you have a skill to share that is making your day that little brighter?

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