Amazon says its Echo Dot, for the third year in a row, was the most popular item at Amazon.com this holiday season. The Alexa enabled Dot performs the same skills more expensive Echo’s do, but in a smaller form-factor.
At last count, the Echo devices have over 180,000 skills, or apps and new ones are being introduced every day. Many Dot owners use the device for weather forecasts, setting alarms and playing music through Amazon Prime Music, but the technology built into all Echo devices are more helpful and fun.
Here are my favorite Alexa skills you find at Amazon:
- Guard Dog. This skill adds the sound of a guard dog to any room in your house. Let’s say you’re leaving for the weekend and you’d like to keep your home safe from burglars. Enable the Guard Dog skill and say the trigger words “Alexa, ask Guard Dog to guard my house”. Every now and then the sounds of growling and barking dogs is played through the Alexa device. You can play “Guard Dog” in any room where there’s an Echo device.
- Wiki-How is one of my favorite skills because it knows how to do anything and everything. Using the popular online site wiki and wikipedia, just say “Alexa, ask Wiki-how….”. I tried it with “How can you prepare beets” and Wiki-How gave me a step-by-step recipe. “Ask Wiki-How the best way to outrun a bear”, and the skill gave me tips on how to keep the beasts from chasing me down.
- “Would You Rather Family” is a throw-back to the teenage party game where you’re given two choices. This family-friendly game asks questions that are appropriate for all ages.
- “No Way That’s True” is one of my favorite Alexa game skills. This game gives a statement such as “Volcano’s can create rocks that float in water”, and it’s your job to answer whether it’s true or false. There are thousands of questions in this one and more are being added each day. Lots of fun whether you’re playing with 4 people are solo.
- “Ask My Buddy” is a good app for anyone who has a health problem and who might, at any time, need help. Rather than needing to grab their phone and text a family member, simply say “Ask My Buddy” within earshot and the skill will contact someone you’ve chosen to check on you. For older seniors who are in danger of falling, this skill may be worth the price to purchase an Echo device. “Ask My Buddy” can also send safety checks to a contact using just your voice. There are many many more of course, this is just a taste of what Alexa can do besides weather forecasts and alarms.