15 essential Alexa skills that Amazon’s AI assistant can learn to help make your life easier
Dave Johnson Dec 3, 2021, 2:50 PM
- Amazon Alexa skills allow you to customize the artificially intelligent assistant to suit all sorts of needs.
- You can add new skills to Alexa from the mobile app, a web browser, or even by asking Alexa to add the skill.
- Here are 15 of the best skills for Amazon Alexa.
- Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.
Alexa, the voice assistant built into Amazon’s family of Echo speakers and smart displays, comes packed with an enormous number of capabilities right out of the box — everything from playing the news to running timers to streaming music.
But that’s just for starters; Alexa’s not-so-secret weapon is the ability to add new skills. There are around 100,000 skills you can add to Alexa from controlling smart devices in your home to getting wine pairing recommendations.
Here are 15 of the best skills you can teach Alexa right now.
15 essential Alexa skills
Protect your home with Alexa Guard
Alexa Guard can help protect your home — it uses the microphone built into your Echo devices to listen for signs of a break-in when you’re not home. To enable it, say “Alexa, I’m leaving” and disable it with, “Alexa, I’m home.” You can customize the way it works using the Alexa mobile app. Tap More at the bottom of the screen, then Settings, then Guard. Then tap the button at the top of the screen to set up Guard’s features, like controlling your lights, making barking dog sounds, and more.
Control your lights with Philips Hue
One of the best reasons to get smart lights is to control them by voice. After installing the Hue bridge and adding one or more lights to your home, enable the Hue skill from the Alexa skills library. Then just say “Alexa, turn on the kitchen light.”
Listen to audiobooks with Audible
The Audible skill is automatically enabled. To hear an audio book read aloud, just say, “Alexa, read [title] from Audible.” You’ll need to already own the Audible book, but you can also ask “Alexa, what’s free from Audible?” There’s a free book each month.
Get veterinary help with MyPetDoc
Enable the MyPetDoc skill and then use it to get answers to pet health questions from an automated veterinarian AI. After enabling the skill in Alexa’s skill library, say, “Alexa, start My Pet Doc” and then answer the questions to explain your pet’s symptoms. You’ll have the option to connect to a live veterinarian (for a fee).
Get wine pairing advice
If you don’t know much about wine, enable the Wine Pairing skill in Alexa’s skills library and then ask things like “Alexa, ask wine pairing for a wine to go with lasagna.” You’ll generally get a few options and even learn what price range you’ll find.
Use Alexa like an intercom with Drop-in
You can use Drop-In to call another Alexa device. Like an intercom, the call starts right away, so you can talk to someone in another room. You need to enable Drop-In before you can use it. To do that, open the Alexa mobile app and tap More, then Settings, then Communication and then tap Enhanced Features. Swipe the button to enable the feature. Then you can call another room by saying “Alexa, drop in on [the kitchen].”
Control your Xbox
Thanks to the Xbox skill, you can control your Xbox with your voice. Enable the Xbox skill in Alexa’s skills library and link to the console by signing in with your Microsoft account. There are a lot of commands you can give your Xbox One or Xbox Series X/S, so to get an overview, say, “Alexa, ask Xbox what can I say.”
Find out how your steak is doing with Meater
If you have a Meater wireless meat thermometer, you can enable the Meater app in Alexa’s skills library to check on the cook from anywhere in the house. You can find out how much longer your dinner will take or find out the temperature inside your meat. Say “Alexa, ask Meater how long does my chicken need?” or “Alexa, ask Meater the temperature of my steak.”
Keep kids happy with Alexa games
Alexa knows a lot of games. Enable The Magic Door in Alexa’s skills library and say “Alexa, play the Magic Door,” for example, to play an interactive choose your own adventure, complete with narration, sound effects, and prompts to make choices along the way that affect the story.
Never lose your phone with Find My Phone
After enabling the Find My Phone skill in Alexa’s skills library, say “Alexa, find my phone.” Alexa will then call your phone so you can zero in on the ring (assuming it’s not set to silent). The first time you use Find My Phone, Alexa will text a four-digit security number to the phone which you’ll need to read back, so set this skill up before you lose your phone.
Order a pizza from Domino’s
If you’re a fan of Domino’s, you’ll appreciate being able to place a complete order in seconds with Alexa. Enable the Domino’s skill in Alexa’s skills library and follow the instructions to link it to your Domino’s account. Then you can say, “Alexa, open Domino’s” to create an order, or “Alexa, open Domino’s and place my Easy Order” to instantly place your saved Easy Order.
Lock your front door with August
If your front door is equipped with an August smart lock, you can lock, unlock, and check the status of the door using your voice. Enable August Smart Home in Alexa’s skills library, and then say things like “Alexa, lock the front door,” or “Alexa, is the front door locked?”
Stay fit with the 7-Minute Workout
The 7-Minute Workout is a fast but thorough workout that many people use daily. For a customizable, guided workout, enable the 7-Minute Workout in Alexa’s skills library, and then you can say “Alexa, start the seven minute workout.” You can choose between three options — low-impact, standard, and advanced — when you perform the initial setup.
Get first aid from the Mayo Clinic
When someone gets injured, it’s often confusing and disorienting. If you enable the Mayo Clinic First Aid skill in Alexa’s skills library, you can ask common questions and get fast answers. To get started, say “Alexa, open Mayo First Aid,” and then ask questions like, “how do I treat a fever” or “help for a cut.” If the skill doesn’t know how to answer your question, it will recommend dialing 911 in case of emergency.
Keep track of your steps with Fitbit
You can connect your Fitbit to Alexa by enabling the Fitbit skill in Alexa’s skills library. Once connected, you can ask Alexa for details about how you’re performing with questions like “Alexa, ask Fitbit how I slept last night” and “Alexa, ask Fitbit how many steps I’ve taken.”Dave JohnsonFreelance WriterDave Johnson is a technology journalist who writes about consumer tech and how the industry is transforming the speculative world of science fiction into modern-day real life.