“Alexa I want to learn something” enables the curiosity skill. This can lead you on a path that follows your interests. Even though Alexa continues to use her robotic voice, the skill matches the interface. There is no break from “her” and it feels like Alexa can engage conversationally. After the initial fact, she prompted me with the options Would you like to “hi, are you curious about rocketry, or evolution?
She even responded to neither, I thought it was going to be limited to yes or no as prompts. Even though this is a default advertised skill, it has the polish that many skills wish to have.
4 out of 5 brains
Find my Phone seems like the most useful Amazon Alexa skill, not that I would lose my phone regularly, no, but setting it up prior and having the knowledge that I can now throw my phone between the cushions and not even have to get up or ask anyone to dial my phone to receive a call thrills a slothful demon inside me. 4 out of 5 couch potatoes
Good Night: If you’re going to be alone in an apartment, it can get very lonely, but if you have an echo with the good night skill enabled, you’ll have an eloquent poet quote Shakespeare and end your night on a high just before you drift to sleep. Here’s a sample of a response to “Good night.”
“All I wish
a sheet of clouds for your bed
And bright crystals for the stars
while you sleep
may the angels bring sweet songs
that bring you bright dreams
While she gets the timing off, the sentiment is sweet.
4 out of 5 sonnets
“Sleep sounds, beautiful dream” This app won’t be stopped between queries, so a gentle piano tune will play throughout your conversations with Alexa when she isn’t talking or listening.
I don’t like that it takes a hard “Alexa, stop.” to actually stop the sounds. But I do like the ambiance it adds to a space like a chiropractic office. This would be perfect if small sounds wake you up, as a constant sound is preferred if you want to sleep.
3.5 out of 5 stars for a limited soundtrack.
I was first curious how Alexa can let me know the top headlines I need to know for the day. I chose the CNN flash briefing skill. Right away CNN told you that these were the top news headlines you needed to know. Right away they gave out the news in like bullet form, so one right after the other. I’m really into international news and I wanted to see if this skill would just choose certain news to give out. CNN does a good job at making sure they inform you on whats happening around as well. They gave a good range of interviews but I would’ve liked if they had a news story for each category (i.e. a&e, news, sports, etc.)
Second, I set up my Uber account to my amazon and was able to order myself a ride relatively fast. I wanted to see just how easy it was to get a ride from Alexa. Initially I was asked to set up my account to amazon that way they can charge me. It was actually pretty cool simply because while I was getting ready Alex informed me when my ride was at my location. I simply wanted to see how easy it was to order a ride since there is times where my friends and I go out and to check out if either ordering on my phone is easier or Alexa. I choose Alexa.
Music is such an instrumental part of my life that I wanted to see how easy it can be to use Alexa. By default Alexa is programed to play amazon music, but since I have a Spotify account I wanted to play my music from there. When I asked Alexa to play my Spotify music she first asked me to set up my Spotify account through the Alexa app. From there it was simple as asking Alexa to play your favorite playlist. It has been one of my favorite skills simply because it is so easy to play music without ever using your phone.
The first skill I enabled was “Wine Pairing”. I am currently taking a wine appreciation course this semester, so this skill caught my eye and could potentially help me out in my class. This skill was free to enable and has had a wine for every food that I needed paired. I learned about this skill from tomsguide.com, from an article published in December. This skill is published by SkyBoost.
“Ted Talks” was the second skill I enabled. I have watched a few Ted Talks before but with class, work and a social life, I don’t really have time to sit down and watch them. With this skill I can tell Alexa what Ted Talk I want to listen to, depending on the topic or relevancy. I like how new talks are added weekly, so I can listen to the most recent talks. This skill is published by Ted Conferences. I am looking forward to incorporating this skill into my daily routine.
Wether they are real or not, I love reading my daily horoscopes. My roommate and I are both pisces so we always see if our life adds up to the horoscope of the day. So, one of the “fun” skills I enabled was “Elle Horoscopes”. I use this skill when I wake up and start my day. This skill is published by ELLE, a publication who is quite popular and I have previously read my daily horoscopes through them.
The first skill I chose was the CNN Flash Briefing. CNN is one of the leading, if not the top of its class, in delivering accurate and timely news. I found the break down of news in bullet points to be very easy to listen to, as well as the speaker using minimalistic words and stating straight facts. The publisher of this skill is CNN Interactive Group, Inc. and the frequency of this publication is updated daily and in a timely manner. The CNN Flash Briefing brings the most recent and relevant in breaking and US news, entertainment and more.
Upon further examination another skill I found was Rosetta Stone. I was highly ecstatic to enable this skill setting because I want to find multiple ways to increase my ability to learn Spanish. This skill now allows me to learn new Spanish words and have Alexa repeat the pronunciation so I know how to exactly pronounce the word or phrase correctly. I love the fact that she listens to exactly how I say the word to recognize that I am saying it right. The publisher of this skill is Rosetta Stone Ltd. The frequency of this app is limited to only a hand full of topics such as greetings, food and drink, directions. I figured this would be the case because Rosetta Stone is a program that is for sale.
In conclusion, the last skill I found helpful and my favorite thus far is Guided Meditation: Meditation of the Day for Calm. This relaxing skill helps cope with anxiety, stress, depression, focus etc. It gives me the calming relaxation I need as a highly overworked and stressed college student. With managing being a student with two jobs and keeping up with my studies my workload becomes overbearing but Guided Meditation relieves me of that stress from three to eight minutes long by guiding me to center myself with breathing exercises. The publisher of this skill is Stop, Breathe & Think. The frequency of this skill is set to have about 60 different guided meditations.
The first skill I enabled was “Clean Joke of the Day” by Pineywoods Tech, LLC. When you ask Alexa for the news, it will tell you a joke first. I picked the skill since it seemed lighthearted and simple. The joke is read by Alexa, not prerecorded, so it entirely messed up the joke, since it happened to be bear with long pause one, and Alexa did not pause to finish the punchline.
“Washington Post” was the next skill I enabled. It is published by the newspaper itself. The content it has appears to be updated live. It supports multiple modes, including reading the headlines, a politics brief, and a news quiz. The headlines are read out loud by Alexa, and was hard to listen to. It frequently stumbled on names, and was hard to listen to. The politics brief was read by a reporter, and was a softer and more comforting voice.
The last skill I tried out was “Ambient Sounds: Fireplace sounds” by Invoked Apps LLC. It is a very simple skill, as it just plays the sound of a fireplace. I think it will run forever until you ask Alexa to stop. The company has also published other sounds, including a brook, the ocean, birds, and so on. I think the main appeal for these skills will be helping people who cannot sleep in a different environment ease in to the different sounds.
The first skill I chose was Verse of the Day by YouVersion. It is published by Life Church. The skill does a flash briefing every day. This skill allows you access to bible verses and other bible resources. I chose this skill because I use this app on my phone already. I usually read it in the morning but it might be nice to listen to it while I get ready. The verse of the day is read in Alexa’s voice but the other sources seemed to be pre-recorded audio provided by the app.
The second skill I chose was NPR News Now. It is published by NPR and it is updated hourly. It offers five minutes of recent news. I chose this app because I have honestly been searching for a new news source. I don’t enjoy watching news on tv or even videos online i’d rather read it from the news section on Google. I think with this i’m getting a condensed version and it has sound bites that engage my attention.
The third skill I chose was Radio Love Story. It’s basically a streaming of readings from a magazine called Love Story Magazine. The magazine was first published in the late 1920s’ and the radio show I believe aired during the 1930s’. The stories source comes from archive.org and they are licensed under Creative Commons. This skill provides “old time” radio that feature fast-paced love stories that are surprisingly risque. Imagine watching a black and white movie starring sultry-voiced women and men who say darlin’ (but with your eyes closed). This pick was random however, I do enjoy old entertainment.
Radio Love story
Verse of the Day
One of the first skills I tried out was The Score. The score is a popular sports website that I read, but I didn’t realize they were trying to be the sports version of NPR with sports segments being uploaded every hour recapping today’s top sports stories. Most of the episodes are about twenty minutes and go in-depth on one topic. The reason I chose this app was because for something to give me the latest on the NHL, an aspect lacking on the marketplace compared to MLB, NFL, and NBA.
Similar to my experience with Google Home, I then started to use the Trivia apps. Jeopardy is on there, and fun to play. The game is updated weekly with new trivia so I’ll probably go back and have with it, but it’s currently lacking the social multiplayer aspect that is on the IOS app. So I got bored and decided to play The Fake News App, which is surprisingly fun. The game mashups real stories with obvious fake ones. It got me a couple of times.
The last skill I tried was the Peaceful Habit, which is kinda disappointing but effective at the same time. I do yoga normally in the morning, but I prefer to listen to music on Spotify and work that into my workout. I know some that prefer to have a music limitation and this would probably work better for them than for me.
The Score Skill
The Fake News App
The first skill that stood out to me was the NBA Flash Briefing, which is published by NBA Digital. The frequency publication of this skill is upgraded every day since the day and time of the basketball game changes daily. The NBA Flash Briefing provides the latest scores on the previous and upcoming basketball games. The skill also delivers information regarding the score and timing left in a basketball game while the match is taking place. The main reason I chose this skill is because I enjoy watching basketball and I prefer to be up to date with all the current matches. Overall, this skill was handy because it supplies the listener with just the right amount of information.
In addition, the second skill that caught my attention was Reuters TV, published by Thomas Reuters. The frequency publication of this skill alters every few hours because news is being delivered almost every couple of minutes. The Reuters TV app offers the listener with a five-minute update on the most current international and local affairs. The app provides the listener with a detailed explanation on the top political officials, the amount of people dying due to a bombing or the flu and several other facts. The reason that I chose this skill is because I want to be fully conscious of all that is taking place in the world so that I can take immediate action and raise and spread awareness through social media.
Finally, the last skill that I found captivating was Curiosity, published by Curiosity.com. The frequency publication of this skill changes every few days because new facts and topics are being found on a consistent basis. assembled The Curiosity app provides the listener with interesting facts on a variety of different topics including history, art, science and technology. This skill gives the listener a choice between two topics and then provides a thorough description on that particular subject. The listener receives an explanation which answers numerous details including the “who,” “what,” “when,” “where,” and “why.” The main reason I chose to enable this skill is because it helps enrich my knowledge in several areas. I enjoy learning new facts and I want to pass on the information I obtained because that way awareness is raised.
- NBA Flash Briefing: https://skills-store.amazon.com/deeplink/dp/B0763ZGR99?deviceType=app&share&refSuffix=ss_copy
- Reuters TV: https://skills-store.amazon.com/deeplink/dp/B01N1MTU0I?deviceType=app&share&refSuffix=ss_copy
- Curiosity: https://skills-store.amazon.com/deeplink/dp/B01MT1GPWX?deviceType=app&share&refSuffix=ss_copy