13 Essential Alexa Skills Every Amazon Echo User Must Know

It's no secret that the Amazon Echo or the Echo Dot is more than just a music streaming device or an alarm clock

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Yes, these are things that you'd expect from a smart assistant and Echo does that well, but thanks to the Smart Home Skill API, the Echo Dot also boasts of quite a number of third-party skills.

So, be it something as trivial as looking for a great holiday recipe or being your personal gym trainer, with the right skills under her wings, Alexa can make your life super easy.

Today, we are going to share some essential Alexa skills every Echo user must know. We have tried and tested each of these with our office Alexa and they work just fine.

1. Universal Remote Skills

One annoying thing about remotes is that they just decide to disappear every time you need them. While a smartphone with a built-in IR blaster may help you in such situations, the Amazon Echo device takes the experience a notch higher.

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While it supports a number of remotes, I found the Anymote Smart Remote to work the best. All you have to do is get the app on your Android phone and pair it with Alexa. Once the pairing is complete, you can control a number of appliances with the IR blaster, including AC, TV or set-top boxes.

AnyMote also has an Alexa-enabled smart universal remote control hub, which makes pairing devices much easier. It supports 1000+ devices, however, it requires a phone to be present at all times.

2. Workout with Alexa

There are two different types of people on this planet — those who religiously visit the gym and those who don't. Then there are those who want to go to the gym but are too pressed for time.

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Alexa is here to help such weary souls. You just need to spare 7 minutes of your time. Echo's 7-Minute Workout skill is the perfect answer. All you need to do is say, "Alexa, start the 7-minute workout".

Alexa will walk you through each set of exercise.

The interesting thing about this skill is that Alexa will walk you through each set of exercise and let you know when the time is up for each session. Plus, you can even play or pause the session anytime with voice commands.

Besides, if you own a FitBit you can link it to the Alexa app and have it tell the number of steps you took in a day.

3. Calculate with Your Voice

Have a big number to divide? Worry not, the built-in calculator skill of Alexa can help you out.

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Just ask Alexa to add, divide or subtract and it'll do so accurately. It can also calculate the square root of numbers!

4. Increase Your Memory Power

It goes without saying that taking care of your mental health is as, if not more, important as your physical health. A stepping stone in that direction is keeping the mind active and strong.

A good way to achieve this is by enabling the Color Game or Math Question Games skills of the Amazon Echo.

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These are two sets of simple games. While the math game will fire quick questions at you, the color game will ask you to repeat a set of color in a particular pattern much like the memory game. One wrong answer and you lose, only to start again.

Did you know that you can play rock-paper-scissors with Alexa?

5. Whip up Delicious IFTTT Recipes

Though IFTTT recipes aren't necessarily built-in Alexa skills in the typical sense, they can go a long way in cutting the long story short.

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You can't enable the service from the Alexa app. It works the other way around. You'd have to go to the IFTTT Amazon Alexa page and connect it to your IFTTT account.

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Once done, you can enable a number of recipes for your Amazon Echo. Whether it's something as trivial as mailing you your Amazon shopping list or sending the list to your Facebook Messenger, it can do it all.

All you have to do is say the wake word, followed by the term and Alexa will take it from there.

6. Meditate with Alexa

Another cool Alexa skill is its ability to play a host of soothing sounds. From the sound of crackling fire and chirping of crickets to the gentle sound of raindrops — the Relaxing Sounds skill has a plethora of soulful audio files.

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So, the next time you sit down to meditate, don't sit alone. Bring your Amazon Echo Dot along.

7. What's for Dinner?

The Meal Selector skill is an added perk if you're someone like me who's always confused about what to have in the next meal. To enable this feature, ask the Alexa app what's for dinner and it'll throw random dinner recipes at you.

All you need to do is ask the app what's for dinner.

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Alternatively, you can also try the following recipe skills on your Amazon Echo:

Did you know that if you say, "Alexa, meow meow!", Alexa meows back.

8. Book an Uber

The Uber skill is for those who often travel by cabs. So, if you have an Echo device at your disposal, you can ask it to book an Uber for you.

Start off by saying, "Alexa, ask Uber to call me an UberGo" and it'll be taken care off. What's more? You can also change your pickup location. So, you can book a cab for your friend at the airport while you sit at home.

9. Radio Earplay

In the mood for some good old radio shows? If the answer is yes, let Alexa be your companion, as the Radio Earplay skill narrates a series of interactive storytelling, coupled with the charm of the old world.

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You can have your pick from the demos or the interactive previews.

Note: Parent's discretion required as some of the Earplay stories aren't suitable for all ages.

10. Track Your Phone

Google's Find My Device is a pretty good feature when it comes to tracking your missing phone. However, if you're sure that you have misplaced your smartphone somewhere within the house, you can ask Alexa to give it a ring.

If you've misplaced your smartphone, you can ask Alexa to give it a ring.

The skill that comes to the rescue is Find My Phone by TrackR. You'd also need to have this app on your smartphone and keep it paired with Alexa.

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So, the next time you misplace your phone, all you need to do is use the voice command and this smart assistant will obey.

What's more? It'll also tell you the location where your smartphone was last seen. Talk about smart trackers!

11. Turn Alexa into a Bartender

Another cool Alexa skill is The Bartender. With some 12,000 cocktail recipes under its belt, this cool skill can whip up some really tasty cocktails.

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This skill will not only give you the ingredients but also the instructions on how to make the best cocktails. Plus, you can also ask it to surprise you with a few quirky recipes.

12. Translate Sentences Seamlessly

Want to brush up your foreign languages skills? The Translated skill is here to help. Rated 3.7, this cool feature lets you translate short sentences from English to a number of languages with your Alexa.

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Just ask Alexa to open Translated and translate a sentence in English to Japanese or any other language and it'll be done.

13. Get Doubly Smart

Needless to say, Alexa is great with smart devices. Whether it's the Samsung Smart hub, Nest Thermostat or your Philips Hue lights, the options to pair are immense.

If you own any one of these smart devices, be sure to pair them up and reap the benefits of voice control.

Bonus Alexa Skill: Open the Magic Door

Open the Magic Door is a fairly new Alexa-powered interactive adventure game. Ideal for curious toddlers (parent's discretion required) who are forever on a lookout for their own little adventures, this game can be the perfect starting point.

All you need to say is "Alexa, open the magic doors" and the adventure will begin right away as you start to explore different fantasy lands and solve a number of puzzles and riddles.

Needless to say, the direction of this game will depend on your input.

Do More with Alexa On Amazon Echo

These were some of the essential Alexa skills that you must enable on your Amazon Echo device. As mentioned earlier, whether it's the tiny Dot or the big Echo Plus, it performs almost all the tasks seamlessly, provided it has the right skills enabled.

Apart from the above, it can also double up as your quizmaster or your private jest who cracks jokes on demand. 

So, now that the holiday season is nigh, try asking Alexa when is Santa coming. Have fun!

Namrata Gogoi

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