Everything You Can Do With Amazon Alexa
'Alexa, tell me a joke.'
Amazon’s voice assistant Alexa can make it so you never have to lift a finger to perform certain actions.
Not only can Alexa tell you simple things such as the time, set up an alarm and play music, but it's also programmed to do things such as request an Uber pickup and order a pizza.
Yet people often underestimate Alexa’s abilities -- in fact, it basically has its own personality. Alexa can tell jokes, read books, teach math -- the list goes on and it’s expanding regularly. As of July, the voice platform surpassed 15,000 skills, which is 5,000 more than it had in February. Not only is Alexa accessible through Amazon devices such as the Echo, it can now be used by Android owners with the Alexa app.
Now it can be programmed to sound even more human-like. In April, Amazon announced five new language protocols that allow app builders to incorporate speech patterns such as whispering, bleeping out swear words and changing the speed at which Alexa talks. And in October, the ecommerce giant programmed Alexa to be able to recognize a variety of voices -- whether it’s more family members, a significant other or some close pals -- and reply with personalized responses.
While in the past, these “Alexa skills” would have to be enabled -- meaning a user would have to go into their Amazon Alexa app, search for the skill they wanted and turn it on -- now, a user can bypass this step and simply ask Alexa anything.
To unlock Alexa’s full potential, check out everything the voice assistant can do.
To play “baby making” and “hooking up” music.Alexa can now play back music from a user’s Amazon Music library based on certain activities. More than 500 activities will be covered, including meditation to running to even “baby making” and “hooking up.” And to make sure your device plays exactly what you want to hear, users can also request certain genres. For example, you can say, “Alexa, play baby-making jazz music.”
To control Amazon Fire TV.If you’ve got Alexa and Amazon Fire TV, here’s a sweet new skill to add. With the new July 2017 Amazon Fire software update, users can now use Alexa to control Fire TV. By linking Fire TV to your Amazon Alexa device through the Alexa app, you can control your Fire TV through Alexa voice commands, including playback controls, searching for videos and more.
Keep your home smelling fresh.Alexa can even help you make sure your home smells like a Hawaiian vacation all year round. Scenting services company Prolitec has made its Aera fragrance systems compatible with Amazon Alexa. The system offers eight different fragrances, and you can tell Alexa to turn on Aera or change the scent levels. However, you’ll have to purchase the system separately from Alexa, and then add the AeraforHome skill to your Alexa app to begin using it.
Block unwanted calls and texts.In May 2017, Amazon’s Alexa update gave the voice assistant the power to make calls and send messages. A subsequent update allows you to block unwanted calls and texts through Alexa. If you have the latest version of the Alexa app, you can tap the “Block Contacts” button in your contact list (located in Conversations view) and begin screening any unwanted contact from certain people.
Schedule reminders and label timers.
A new update rolled out in June 2017 that allows Amazon Alexa owners to schedule reminders and label any timers they set. From sending a rent check to picking up groceries to checking the oven -- the new update can help users never forget a thing.
And by being able to label timers, users can easily set multiple timers at once and Alexa will know exactly which ones go when. For example, simply say “Alexa, set the pasta timer” or “Alexa, set the chicken timer” and it will set the various labeled timers with their corresponding times.
Make voice calls, video calls, send messages and "drop in."
As of May 2017, Alexa finally gained one of its simplest skills that it had been lacking -- the ability to make calls and send messages. The new addition comes just as the latest version of the Amazon Echo was unveiled and will allow users to ask Alexa to call or message other people with Echo devices or an Alexa app for free -- all you need is an internet connection.
With the new Echo that features a screen, users have the options to voice call, video call or “drop in” -- which lets users instantly connect with the person they are calling if they enable “drop in” permission (kind of like an intercom). However, those who have the original Echo device can still make voice calls and send messages.
There’s no release date for the new calling and messaging features, but according to Amazon, they are “coming soon.”
Make a to-do list.
Lose the pen and paper (or tablet or smartphone) -- you now have your own personal notetaker.
Alexa can help you draft your to do or shopping lists. Just let it know what you need -- “Amazon, add ‘go to the grocery store’ to my to-do list.”
In fact, Alexa can basically act as a personal assistant. It can keep your calendar in order and let you know of any upcoming events or appointments. Just ask, “Alexa, what’s on my calendar for tomorrow?”
Check the weather forecast.
Before you even get out of bed to start getting ready for the day, find out what the weather’s like outside. Do you need an umbrella? Alexa has the answer. Ask, “Alexa, will I need an umbrella today?”
If you’re planning ahead, find out from Alexa what this weekend's weather looks like -- “Alexa, what’s the weather going to be this weekend?”
Check for traffic.
Like the weather, it’s important to be prepared for anything before you head out for the day. Alexa can let you know what the traffic looks like on your morning commute -- “Alexa, what’s my commute look like?” Or, “Alexa, what’s traffic like?”
Read the news.
Many of us have already (sadly) ditched the newspaper, but here's another way to get the news without reaching for your smartphone.
While you’re brushing your teeth or making breakfast, Alexa can give you a morning briefing. Just ask, “Alexa, what’s in the news?”
Do some research.
There’s a lot that Alexa can teach you.
Say you’re thinking about watching a movie but want to find out more before you dedicate your time. Alexa can tell you what the IMDb rating is for a movie, what actors are in it and basically anything else you want to know. You can ask things such as, “Alexa, who plays in the [name of movie]?” Or “Alexa, what is [actor]’s latest movie?”
If you’re curious about any music or artist you’re listening too, that’s also a question for Alexa. To find out who sings a particular song -- “Alexa, who sings the song [title]?" If you want a scoop on an album -- “Alexa, "What year did [band] release [song or album]?"
Alexa can also look up anything online for you. You can ask it to look up something on Wikipedia, or you can ask something such as, “Alexa, how tall is Michael Jordan?”
Do calculations.With the help of Alexa, you’ll never need a calculator again. From basic math to advanced algebra, Alexa is a math wiz. You can ask it a simple conversion question such as, “Alexa, how many cups are in a quart?” Or, ask something trickier such as, “Alexa, 70 factorial.”
Once you hook up your Amazon account to Alexa, you can use it to make sure you never run out of anything. From groceries to toiletries to music, Alexa can order all of your necessities with your voice. Out of toilet paper? Not a problem -- “Alexa, buy more toilet paper.”
If you want to know about Amazon's daily deals, Alexa will tell you. Just ask, “Alexa, what are your deals?”
After Alexa places your order, it’ll also help you track it: “Alexa, where’s my stuff?”
Find restaurants.Don’t know where to go out for dinner? Ask Alexa, it will tell you what’s around. You can ask questions such as, “Alexa, what Mexican restaurants are nearby?” or “Alexa, what are some top-rated Indian restaurants?” Whatever you’re craving -- it’ll have an answer.
Clean your house.If you’ve got an Alexa-powered device and a Roomba, you won't have to lift a finger again to activate the bot. The smart vacuum cleaner now has the ability to communicate with Alexa so you can start, stop or pause cleaning jobs just by saying, “Alexa, ask Roomba to begin cleaning the kitchen.”
Order your favorite foods.Alexa’s food-ordering capabilities don’t stop at pizza. From Chinese to Greek, now you can order all of your food favorites by using Alexa's GrubHub skill. Say, “Tell Grubhub I’m hungry,” and Alexa will pull up a list of the last three meals that you ordered for you to choose from. After you order, Alexa will let you know how long the food will take to be delivered.
Request an Uber.If requesting an Uber wasn’t simple enough already -- open the app, add your location and request a car -- it’s even easier now. With Alexa, you can request an Uber simply with your voice. “Alexa, ask Uber to request a ride.” You can then ask, “Alexa, ask Uber where’s my ride?”
Find a recipe.If you’re unsure what to cook for dinner, Alexa has a library of recipes to choose from, courtesy of The Food Network. Simply ask, “Alexa, ask Food Network for recipes on TV right now.”
Recommend wine.Alexa can act as your own personal sommelier through the MySomm skill. If you’re eating a certain meal, it will let you talk to “Wine Gal,” who will recommend specific wines to you. For example, “Alexa, ask Wine Gal to recommend a wine for steak and mashed potatoes.”
Order a pizza.
Oops -- you burned dinner, now what? Order a pizza.
You’ll have to have a Domino’s “Pizza Profile” already set up to do this. Just enter your name, address and payment info and add in your “Easy Order” preference, and you’ll never have to lift a finger to order a pizza again.
After you’ve got your Domino’s profile ready, you can start asking Alexa, “Alexa, open Domino’s and place my Easy Order.” After you’ve ordered it, you can have Alexa check on its status too -- “Alexa, ask Domino’s to track my order.
Get a quick health diagnosis.
Healthtap’s Doctor AI, an artificial intelligence powered service that provides doctor recommended insights and was initially launched for Apple iOS and Android devices, is now available on Amazon Alexa.
The service is especially helpful for people who might have impaired eyesight, difficulty using their hands or simply not used to using screens. With records from more than 107,000 doctors in its network, Doctor AI analyzes the medical records of users, provides a diagnosis and feedback and shares the information in a conversational way.
Doctor AI can also connect users to one of its associated doctors. Some features are available only to premium users.
Tell a joke.
It turns out Alexa has a comedic side. If you’re feeling down, ask, “Alexa, tell me a joke.”
Alexa doesn’t stop there either. There are a number of “easter eggs” that Alexa has been programmed to respond too. Here’s a list of some of the funniest:
"Alexa, what's the first (or second) rule of Fight Club?"
"Alexa, show me the money."
"Alexa, I want the truth."
"Alexa, my name is Inigo Montoya."
“Alexa, I am your father.”
"Alexa, when am I going to die?"
"Alexa, don't mention the war."
Check out sports scores.If you’re a sports fan but find yourself with little time to watch your favorite team -- don’t worry, Alexa can get you all caught up. You can ask it the score or time of a game and you can even set your preferences so Alexa knows who your favorite teams are and give a personalized Sports Update -- “Alexa, what’s my Sports Update?”
Read a book.Not only can you play your favorite songs through Alexa (“Alexa, play The Rolling Stones on Spotify”), but it can tell you info about artists, control the volume and even read you a bedtime story through Kindle. So before bed, just ask, “Alexa, read me my Kindle book.”
Turn your house into a smart home.
You can connect Alexa to a number of smart appliances in your home. If you own platforms such as SmartThings, Wink, Insteon, Lutron, Belkin WeMo, Philips Hue and others, then you’ll be able to transform your house into a digital maven.
Alexa can turn off lights, lock doors, adjust the thermostat, control your garage door -- needless to say, you won’t have to lift a finger. For example, “Alexa, raise the temperature by one degree.”
Get emergency help.
“Ask My Buddy” can get you help during any emergency.
By setting up a free account on askmybuddy.net and entering your emergency contacts, you’ll be able to ask Alexa to call for help whenever you need it. Perhaps you’ve injured yourself and need to call a friend for help, simply say, “Alexa, ask my buddy to alert Bob.”
Miller Lite is taking things one step further to cater to people’s laziness.
Partnered with alcohol delivery service Drizly, the new “Miller Lite On-Demand” connects with Amazon Alexa. Users can order Miller Lite products by telling Alexa, “Start Miller Lite time.” Alexa will send the request to Drizly and the order will be completed and delivered in under an hour. To set it up, go to “Miller Time” in the Alexa skills store and enter your drink preferences.
Check if you’ve been hacked.
With the number of data breaches today, it feels like no one is safe from hackers. With the ';--have i been pwned? Alexa skill, you can check to see if any of your usernames or emails have been subject to a data breach.
Say, “Alexa, open have I been poned,” and then spell out the email or handle you’d like to get checked.
Prep for an interview.Alexa will even help you prep for any upcoming interviews. With the Interview Prep skill, Alexa will ask you a few questions from Interview Prep’s database of questions. Say, “Alexa, ask Interview Prep for a question.”
Use the Stubhub skill with your Amazon Alexa and you can hear about what’s going on in your city. In fact, you don’t have to limit to your city either -- if you’re curious about what’s going on in another place, just ask Alexa.
Say, “Alexa, what’s happening in my city this weekend?” Or, “Alexa, what’s happening in San Francisco this weekend?”
Make a dinner reservation.
Through the OpenTable skill, you can make a restaurant reservation through Amazon Alexa. After inputting your name, ZIP code, email and phone number, Alexa will share available reservations for the next 2.5 hours. You can also search for a specific restaurant. “Alexa, launch OpenTable.”
If you want to search by local cuisine, you can use Restaurant Explorer, which will list out options for you. All you have to supply is your ZIP code and the type of food you want -- “Alexa, ask Restaurant Explorer to find Indian food near 94901.”
Hear what’s in theaters.By linking your Fandango account, Alexa will find theaters in your zip code and tell you what’s playing nearby and when. Simple say something like: "Alexa, Ask Fandango what's playing at a nearby theater," or "Alexa, Ask Fandango to search for Beauty and the Beast."
Work out.Forget the gym, Alexa can help you get a quick workout in. The 7-Minute Workout skill will walk you through a number of different exercises including push-ups, squats, jumping jacks and more. Just say, “Alexa, start 7-Minute Workout.”
Boost your mood.Feeling down? Tell Alexa to “open Happy Days” and it will share some inspirational quotes to help you feel happier.
Catch a breather -- Alexa can lead you in a quick meditation session with its 1-Minute Mindfulness skill. It will guide you to close your eyes, focus on your breathing and get into meditation mode. You can also choose between quick meditation, peaceful meditation, river meditation and forest meditation. Simple say, “Alexa, ask mindfulness for a minute meditation.”
If you want a longer meditation session, try the Meditation Timer skill. The skill will help set the right tone for your meditation, where you can choose between forest, rain or ocean surf settings, and set them to play for a certain amount of time. “Alexa, open Meditation Timer.”
Give pregnant mothers an update.The What to Expect skill can provide expecting parents with daily information and tips about their upcoming pregnancy. All a person has to do is share the due date of the upcoming newborn. “Alexa, ask What To Expect for my pregnancy update.”
Help you make music.
If you’re making music or practicing, the Acoustic Metronome skill will help you stay on beat. It has rates ranging between 40 to 199 beats per minute -- just tell Alexa what you need, “Alexa, ask metronome to play 60.”
With the Ditty skill, you can turn anything you speak into a song. Ditty will auto-tune your words and play them back as a catchy tune that you can share with friends on Twitter or save it for yourself. “Alexa, open Ditty.”
Tell a bedtime story.
Alexa will tell your child a personalized bedtime story. To set this up, create an account on bedtime.webguild.com and link it to your Amazon Alexa. To start, say something like, “Alexa, tell BedTime Story to Suzy.”
Don’t worry, there’s also an Alexa skill for adults too. The Earplay skill will craft a personalized story for you through its “choose-your-own-adventure” option -- “Alexa, start Earplay.”
Translate.Alexa’s Translated skill will translate what you say into one of 36 programmed languages. It will even let you choose the speed in which it talks. For example, “Alexa, ask Translated how to say ‘where are you’ in French.”
Prepare meat.Preparing and perfecting meat is no easy task. But with MeatButler, things get easier. MeatButler will help guide Amazon Alexa owners in preparing meat. “Alexa, ask MeatButler to help me prepare lamb.”
Craft cocktails.Alexa’s Mixologist skill will help you craft perfect cocktails. It can guide you through the steps to make a certain mixed drink, recommend drinks for you or surprise you. A few things you might say: “Alexa, ask Mixologist, ‘How do I make a cosmo?’” Or “Alexa, ask Mixologist to surprise me,” or even, “Alexa, what cocktails can I make with tequila?”
There are a number of Amazon Alexa skills that can assist in your travels. When it comes to planning trips, using the Kayak skill, you can search for flights, hotels, rental cars and more. It also provides you with potential vacation options if you’re on a budget.
For example, “Alexa, where can I fly to for under $1,000?” Or, “Alexa, ask Kayak how much a flight from New York to Houston is.”
Sure, you can order food with Alexa, but what if you feel like a home-cooked meal? Things just got a bit easier. Amazon recently introduced new Alexa skills that connect the voice assistant to smart microwaves.
Instead of pushing buttons, you can say things such as “Alexa, defrost three pounds of chicken” or “Alexa, microwave for 50 seconds on high.”The skill will be available soon, first with Whirlpool's connected microwaves.