Assignment #1

“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

good night.”

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.

Assignment #1

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.


Assignment 1

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, 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.



CNET’s 50 most useful Alexa skills

Julie: This is an interesting list to look at to expand your horizons. Try some of these out!

Original story here:


Out of the box, Alexa can do an impressive number of things. It can stream Amazon Music or Spotify, control your Philips Hue smart bulbs or anything connected to a SmartThings hub and integrate with IFTTT for a laundry list of other functions. You can also order millions of products off Amazon without lifting a finger.

But what has really propelled Amazon’s Alexa forward as a bona fide platform, not just intelligent software behind a few connected speakers, is the Smart Home Skill API. This allows third-party developers to create apps and tap into the power of Alexa without ever needing native support. Major brands have already jumped on the bandwagon and more are soon to follow, especially if the popularity of products like the Amazon Echo ($185.90 at continues to grow. There are now over 10,000 Alexa skills available.

A skill for finding skills

  • Alexa skills themselves are quite helpful. However, even with an updated Skills section in the Alexa app and the ability to add skills using only your voice, discovering new and useful skills is a less than desirable experience. So much so that Amazon actually created a skill called Skill Finder to discover new skills. Launch it by saying, “Alexa, open Skill Finder” or “Alexa, tell Skill Finder to give me the skill of the day.”


  • The Capital One skill allows you to check your credit card balance or make a payment when one is due. This is secure: The skill performs security checks and requires you sign in using your username and password. Then, when you open the skill, you must provide a four-digit code to confirm your identity. Just be wary of who is around when using the skill — anyone who overhears you say your personal key can access your banking or credit card info just by asking Alexa.
  • If you’d like to check stock prices before heading out in the morning, try Opening Bell. This Skill allows you to ask for a stock price using a company’s natural name instead of the ticker symbol, such as, “Alexa, ask Opening Bell for the price of Google.”
  • Similar to Opening Bell, TD Ameritrade has a skill that lets you check “US-traded stocks, ETFs, mutual funds and major US indices — 75,000 securities,” just by asking. Say, “Alexa, ask TD Ameritrade for the price of Amazon.”
  • Since cryptocurrency is so popular (and volatile) these days, you can keep up with your current investments during your Flash Briefing with the Cryptocurrency Flash Briefing skill. When you ask to play your Flash Briefing, this skill will retrieve the current prices of Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, BitcoinCash and Litecoin.


  • You can use IFTTT to push additions to your Amazon To-do List to Google Calendar, or you can use the Quick Events skill. Say something like “Alexa, tell Quick Events to add go to the grocery store tomorrow at 6” to add an event to your calendar.
  • If you’re in marketing or are just looking for some ideas that are outside the box, enable the Giant Spoon skill. Chances are, the ideas aren’t always going to be applicable to what you’re working on, but in my use, they’ve sparked some interesting ideas.

Smart home and car

  • Out of the box, Alexa has support for IFTTT, but not Yonomi. Support for Yonomiis enabled through a skill. Yonomi is a lot like IFTTT, but designed specifically for the smart home. Yonomi generates virtual devices for each scene you create, so the command sounds more natural, such as, “Alexa, turn on Sunset.”
  • You can also keep tabs on your car with Alexa using the Automatic skill. Automatic is a dongle you install in your car’s OBDII port which connects with your smartphone and tracks the status of your car. You can connect your Automatic account to Alexa and ask for the current fuel level, where your car is or how far you’ve driven in a span of time.
  • The Harmony skill by Logitech will allow you to control your entertainment system using your voice though a Harmony hub-based remote. You can say things like, “Alexa, turn on the TV,” “Alexa, turn on Netflix” or “Alexa, turn on the Travel Channel.”
  • The Anova Precision Cooker now has an Alexa skill, called Anova Culinary. With this skill, you can look up cooking guides and begin cooking using your voice. You can say things like, “Alexa, ask Anova to help me cook steak” or “Alexa, ask Anova to increase temperature by 2 degrees.”
  • Likewise, the Joule has an Alexa skill, called Joule: Sous Vide by ChefSteps. This skill can recall your past cooks when you say, “Alexa, ask Joule to cook steak like last time.” You can also set the temperature and check the status of your cook, just by asking.

Food and drink

  • If you’re anything like me, you have no idea which wines pair well with which food. Fortunately, the MySomm skill will tell you. Just ask, “Alexa, ask Wine Gal what goes with a pot roast?”
  • The same goes for beer and the What beer? skill. The invocation for this particular skill is clever, making the phrasing natural and easy to remember. Just say, “Alexa, ask what beer goes with ramen.”
  • To kick up your home-bartending skills a notch, enable The Bartender. You can ask what a drink is made of, and it will tell you the ingredients and the recipe. The answers are a lot to take in for a single response all at once, but this skill can definitely help you dissect your favorite cocktails.
  • To double-check what internal temperature is considered safe when cooking different meats, use Meat Thermometer. Say, “Alexa, ask Meat Thermometer what is the best temperature for steak.”
  • For recipes and food recommendations, try the Best Recipes skill. You can find recipes based on up to three ingredients and narrow the results to breakfast, lunch or dinner. To get started, say, “Alexa, tell Best Recipes I’m hungry” or “Alexa, ask Best Recipes what’s for dinner.”
  • Similarly, Meal Idea will give you recipe ideas that call for common, everyday items you likely already have in your pantry. It’s suggested things like bone soup (out of canned tomato soup and elbow noodles) and a salad made of salad greens, canned beets and goat cheese. At least one of those sounds great.
  • One of my personal favorite skills is Domino’s. You can place your Domino’s Easy Order just by speaking, “Alexa, open Domino’s and place my Easy Order.” You can also track the status of an order you’ve placed by saying, “Alexa, open Domino’s to track my order.”
  • If Pizza Hut is your jam, there’s a skill for that, too. To get started, first enable the skill, link your account and say, “Alexa, tell Pizza Hut to place an order.”
  • Starbucks now lets you place an order using Alexa with the Starbucks Reorderskill. After you enable the skill, you will need to link your account. The skill will not work unless you’ve previously placed a mobile order with the Starbucks app on Android or iOS. It can place an order at one of the last 10 Starbucks locations you’ve visited in person. You can also check your account balance and switch between your five previous mobile orders.


  • For those familiar with the 7-Minute Workout, you’ll be happy to learn there is a skill for the famous workout available on Alexa speakers. Say, “Alexa, open 7-Minute Workout.” The workout will begin. You can pause and resume workouts as needed.
  • Similarly, there is a skill for a 5-Minute Plank Workout. This skill walks you through five minutes of various planks with a 10-second break between each.
  • If you wear a Fitbit tracker on your wrist, you can enable the Fitbit skill. With this skill, you can ask Alexa about your progress or how you slept the night before. Before you can use the skill, however, you will need to link your Fitbit account by going to the skill page at and linking your accounts.
  • For tracking your food, you can use the Track by Nutritionix skill, which lets you track your food intake using your voice or ask for caloric values of foods. (Alexa does the latter by default.) Say things like, “Alexa, tell Food Tracker to log a cup of almond milk” or “Alexa, ask Food Tracker how many calories are in two eggs and three slices of bacon.”
  • Each day, Guided Meditation will give you a different meditation routine, ranging from three to eight minutes. If you’re not digging the current routine, you can say, “Alexa, play next” to skip to the next exercise.


  • Not impressed by Alexa’s default weather forecasting abilities? You’ll want to enlist the help of Big Sky. Using the Dark Sky API, Big Sky provides hyperlocal weather forecasts, telling you when rain will start or stop for a specific address or the humidity and wind speed and direction. Big Sky does require a small amount of setup first, though.
  • If you’re less interested in what the actual temperature is and care more about how it feels outside, try the Feels Like skill. It will give you the wind chill when the temperature is less than 50 degrees Fahrenheit and heat index when it’s over 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • And when you don’t have time to listen to an entire, drawn-out forecast, Fast Weather is your best bet. Just say, “Alexa, fast weather.” You will be given a no-nonsense forecast with no wasted words — something like, “Chance of rain. High: 58. Low: 31.”


  • If you want to do some casual research for a future trip, you can get fare estimates using the Kayak skill. You can say, “Alexa, ask Kayak where I can go for $400” or “Alexa, ask Kayak how much it costs to fly from Charlotte to Dublin.” The skill will ask for additional information and eventually provide you with a series of options and price ranges.
  • If you need a ride to the airport, you can order an Uber with Alexa just by asking. Say, “Alexa, ask Uber to get me a car.” Tell me that doesn’t sound like the future.
  • There’s also a skill for Lyft that functions in the exact same way, except you can ask for pricing. Say, “Alexa, ask Lyft how much a Lyft Plus from home to work costs.”
  • Before leaving or your next flight, make sure to check for security wait times at your airport. The Airport Security Line Wait Times skill will give you wait times for over 450 airports around the US. Say something like, “Alexa, ask Security Line what is the wait time at SFO terminal 2?”


  • If you’re looking for movie recommendations, the Valossa Movie Finder skill can help you find movies based on context or by genre and date. You can say things like, “Alexa, use Movie Finder to find comedies from the 1980s” or “Alexa, ask Movie Finder what are the best war movies.”
  • For a similar experience finding TV shows and the times that they air, try TV Time. You can ask if movies starring a specific actor are coming on TV today, when your favorite show comes on or you can ask what is coming on a certain channel. Just say, “Alexa, ask TV Time what’s on CBS tonight.”
  • If you have an interest in history, the This Day in History skill will give you a daily history lesson. Just say, “Alexa, open This Day in History.” To get historical information for a different date, just say, “Alexa, ask This Day in History what happened on April 2nd.”
  • The Radio Mystery Theater skill lets you listen to radio mysteries of yore. Just say, “Alexa, open Radio Mystery Theater” to start, and say, “Alexa, next” or “Alexa, previous,” to skip between episodes.
  • Take a load off and let Alexa put your kids to sleep with the Short Bedtime Story skill. Not only will Alexa read bedtime stories, but you can tailor those stories to your own children by customizing the names in the stories (and which stories are told) using the companion website.
  • After your kids are asleep, Alexa can help you doze off with the Ambient Noise skill and its companion skills. There are several different sounds to choose from, all of which come with their own skill. You can fall asleep to the sounds of a thunderstorm, rain, ocean, wind chimes, babbling brook, rain on a tent, city sounds and much more. For all available sounds, just say, “Alexa, ask Ambient Noise for a list.”
  • If you want to learn something surprising every day, check out the Reddit TILskill. It will pull one of the TIL (today, I learned) posts from the current top 25.

Podcasts and radio

  • AnyPod is an Alexa skill for podcast power listeners. Alexa’s built-in podcast capabilities are somewhat limited. For instance, you can only ask for a podcast. AnyPod allows you to subscribe to your favorite podcasts, play your subscriptions or request a specific episode.
  • Similarly, you have more podcast listening controls if you use the Stitcher skill. You must link your Stitcher account, but then you can access your podcast playlists, play your favorite podcast or play the Stitcher front page.
  • Not sure what to listen to? Try the Learn Something Radio skill. It pulls podcasts from 99% Invisible, NPR, Freakonomics, Hidden Brain and many more.
  • Or you could listen to a TED talk with Alexa using the TED Talks skill. You can specify what sort of TED talk you want to listen to, as well. Just say, “Alexa, ask TED Talks to find talks about nature” or “Alexa, ask TED Talks to play the latest talk.”


  • Looking to up your Pokemon Go game? Enable Trainer Tips to learn more about various Pokemon. Just say, “Alexa, ask Trainer Tips to teach me something” or “Alexa, ask Trainer Tips what’s weak against fire” to learn about your favorite Pokemon.
  • The age-old Akinator game is available on Alexa under the Abra skill. Choose a character, say, “Alexa, start Akinator” and answer the questions. Alexa will guess your character almost every time with creepy accuracy.
  • Warner Brothers created a choose-your-own-adventure game for Alexa called The Wayne Investigation, wherein you investigate the death of Bruce Wayne’s parents, Thomas and Martha Wayne. Start the game by saying, “Alexa, open The Wayne Investigation” and follow the prompts. Each choice you make affects the outcome of the story. This is one of the best examples of a game style that suits Alexa perfectly.
  • Another choose-your-own-adventure game is The Magic Door, which takes place in a mythical world with dragons and wizards. It has recently been updated to include a new adventure.
  • Earplay is a similar adventure game where your responses affect the outcome of the story. However, instead of being a bystander, you become part of the radio drama. To get started, say, “Alexa, start Early.”
  • And for you Harry Potter fans out there, Potterhead Quiz will test your knowledge of Potter realm.

Alexa Skills Review

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.

Week 1 assignment

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.

Assignment 1: Skills Review

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 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


Assignment #1: Alexa Skills Review

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


Peaceful Habit


Week 1 Assignment

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 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.

  1. NBA Flash Briefing:
  2. Reuters TV:
  3. Curiosity:


Assignment 1

  • Question of the Day, developed by VoicePress.AI, is a short, fun Skill that asks the user a simple question at the beginning of every day. You are only allowed one question per day, so it’s a high stakes trivia game that will keep you on your toes every morning. If you get the question right, you move onto the bonus round, giving you another chance to boost your score. Some days even offer double points for the correct answer. Perfect for the family during breakfast, or a future Jeopardy contestant.
  • In a similar vein, Music Trivia by is another streamlined trivia based Skill, this time centered around trivia facts regarding the history in popular music. Luckily, this skill is not limited per day- instead asking five questions per session. This app is perfect for the music buff trying to show off their knowledge of music history, a new acolyte sharpening their skills, or even as a drinking game for a party.
  • Retropolis is a Skill from The Washington Post. Narrated by Reporter Mike Rosenwald, Retropolis is a short show detailing the forgotten stories of the past. Wake up every weekday morning right with a thought provoking podcast, focusing on everything from spies to escaping Alcatraz. Integrated into the app is the ability to get the front page news from the Washington Post. If you are the kind of person that needs a something to ponder as you make your morning coffee, this is the app for you.