Whoops this must be from the wrong prompt.
This day in history: a review.
The History channel launched “This Day in History”
When I asked about my birthday, Alexa gave me a short story about Napoleon’s banishing from his country.
I could see this skill pulling from the information on wikipedia for each day, but having a voice assistant read these interesting nothings off while you work in the kitchen is pleasant.
I like having an assistant who can tell me, with accuracy, about random facts in history. This truly feels like a vocal google. Seamless.
Sadly, there doesn’t seem to be a way to ask about a certain year. This tells me that perhaps 365 stories. It seems like it is one story per day, which is only mildly disappointing, but this would be a good skill to check on each day. This could help add to the conversation ability of Alexa.
“Visit history.com for more events, thanks for using the history skill” does take listening experience points away.
4 fun facts out of 5.
Game Score: a review.
Game score was recently launched. It tries to fill in where a pen and paper would normally do nicely. Instead of being fluid, the experience is held back by prompts like “is the name Nick correct?” The phrasing of your prompts to Alexa must be “Alexa, ask game score to” followed by “remove a point from Nick” or “add a point to Nick.” The dialogue tree then asks for you to confirm that the name is nick before the point is added.
This interface would take a lot of human training. A lot more than even typing into a smartphone would require. Game score seeks to solve a problem that wasn’t really there while creating more problems. Alexa, disable game score.
1 out of 5.
Helping Hand: a review.
“Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears” That was the quote I was given when I asked Alexa to open Helping Hand and inspire me.
Helping hand also had an interesting feature that sets it apart. It can record audio messages spoken to it, and Alexa glows with a green blinking light when a message is received.
Alexa asks who the message is to, and uses your list of contacts to get the name right.
When you say, “read message” Alexa will tell the user who it is sent to and the message will follow. This could be a great tool for leaving messages to your roommates and family.
5 out of 5 helping hands.
Skill: Daily Bruin
I picked this skill since it was California-based. This skill is just Alexa reading the headlines from the Daily Bruin website, some of which did not make much sense for audio. For example, a sports team’s record was read out loud as “(16-7, 7-4)”. The biggest problem though, was that the stories were in the order of whatever was published most recently, instead of the order of importance or relevance.
Skill: The Daily from The New York Times
I am an avid podcast listener, and had listened to The Daily in the past. I was curious to see if they do anything different for Alexa listeners. From what I could tell, it is the same podcast that you would normally hear. I think this is problematic since ideally Alexa would cycle through multiple news sources, but because The Daily is so long, it is going to be fifteen minutes until that happens.
Skill: The Economist Espresso
For a change of news, I picked a world news source this time. This one was appealing because it is not a traditional flash briefing. Instead, you directly ask Espresso for the day’s agenda, or for a brief on the world. I like this format since you can choose each day what type of news you want. The only downside is that it won’t automatically move over to the next news source.
Going to the gym is easier said than done. Especially with a tight schedule. I aim to go to the gym about five days a week but sometimes a day will slip by where I don’t go. Either I’m wrapped up in assignments or I honestly don’t feel like going. Then the guilt starts kicking in during the late night and there’s no turning back. I came across the skill “7 Minute Workout” and decided to try it out. There’s a choice of either doing a simple workout or a workout that is made custom for you. I chose to have a custom workout. Alexa asked me a series of questions regarding my weight, age, gender and how often I workout. The 7 Minute Workout made me do various workouts such as army crawls for 30 seconds each. She plays music while I do the workout, which I enjoy very much. This is an interactive skill both verbally and physically. Even though this app is not equivalent to my workouts at the gym, this is a good fill in on a lazy day. I definitely will be using this skill on the days I decide I want to skip the gym or want to add a little extra workout to my day.
I was raised to love sports since before I could even walk. After living on my own and away from my dad, I realized I lost my connection to the sports world. I like being in the loop so I decided to enable the “247sports Flash Briefing.” I discovered this skill by going to the sports section of the skills. This was one of the highest rated sports skills and I’m disappointed by the quality. I’m not sure what I was going to expect through this skill but I’m not that big of a fan. All of the flash briefings sounded more like headlines. I think I like the energy of the sports anchors rather that Alexa talking to me about sports. I like to read consumer reviews with a grain of salt but I should have listened to the reviews of this skill. There were only five reviews but all but one of them were negative. Then again, you could tell the difference from the sports junkies and the person who only watches the Super Bowl. This skill is effective if I want to know if anything major is going on in the sports world and Alexa can tell me rather than having to search for it myself. I came to the conclusion that Alexa is useful in many ways, just not with sports news.
I am moving out of my sorority house this summer and moving into a house with some close friends. It is my time to finally become a dog mom. Although I know I want my first son to be a Blue French Bulldog, I like knowing facts about other dogs. Let’s be honest, all dogs are the best. So, I enabled the skill “Dog Facts.” The first fact Alexa told me was that Chihuahuas are born like humans in the fact that they first have bald spots and they get covered as they get older. My Chihuahua had puppies when I was a kid so I already knew that fact but it was still cool to hear. This skill has about 80 reviews which were all positive for the most part. When the skill was first designed, they were still adding dog facts to Alexa, so there wasn’t a big variety. However, since those reviews, they added a lot more dog facts. I think kids would enjoy this skill a lot. I could see my niece loving this skill, so I’m definitely going to tell her about it. I chose this skill as one of my “fun” skills. I probably won’t use it that much but it is a fun skill to have.
ABC News Update is published by ABC News Radio and is updated every hour. The ABC News Update is a newscast that includes the latest headlines at the time of publication. I chose this skill because I enjoy watching ABC’s World News Tonight and when I saw that this skill was published by ABC I expected something of similar quality. This skill’s “job” is to inform listeners of the most important things that are happening in the country and the world in two minutes or less. Many people struggle to get news because they don’t have time to sit and scroll through enough online content to inform themselves of every important subject in the news or they don’t have time to sit and watch an hourly newscast. This skill attempts to solve that problem by condensing every headline that hour into two minutes. From a design thinking perspective, this skill attempts to fulfill people’s desire to feel informed and engaged with what is happening in the world. The KRON4 News skill is a Bay Area news and weather flash briefing that is published by Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. I chose this skill because of its connection to the Bay Area, California. This news update is my favorite one because of the speaker’s conversational tone when delivering the news. The CNN Flash Briefing published by CNN Interactive Group, Inc. is another news update that I surveyed after discovering it under the recommended section. The CNN and ABC flash briefings were less appealing because the speaker sounded like they were yelling and speaking too fast for me to really comprehend what they were saying.
The new skills I will be surveying are Local News For San Jose, I’m Bored and Remind Me. I decided to choose my California news reference on San Jose because it only seemed fit being that I reside in San Jose. I found the coverage to be clear, concise and informative. It was a scripted podcast that featured local events or occurrences that have taken place during that day. It seems to be updated by giving the information in a timely manner. I have not tested it on breaking news. The publisher is Virtual News Center. It contains one one bad review that the stories seem to be repetitive. This content can be interesting to all adult ages that reside or work in San Jose.
The I’m Bored skill was chosen by accident. After stumbling upon it I found that it said it gives thought provoking facts. Indeed it did. I know this app has nothing to do with journalism, however, it does help with writer block because it gives you a quick break to refresh your ideas. However, from a product design perspective it seems to be exactly what people enjoy. It has about 53 reviews and majority of them are positive. They like that the facts are always different and vary on different subjects. The publisher is 3LayerBelly. All ages can enjoy this skills.
Finally, the last skill I have chosen was ABC7 Los Angeles. This skill gives worldwide coverage, but also, local and entertainment coverage. It is updated regularly and has very clear information that you can follow. However, this skill is read by Alexa and not from a real human voice. I think the news would be more retainable if there was human interaction. A human voice gives the story a more realistic feel especially if the coverage is traumatic. The publisher of this skill is ABC Digital. It has about five reviews and they are all negative because they did not like a computerized voice.
I believe all these skills were developed to try and to adapt to all listeners liking but they do need minor fixes and be able to reach a more empathic audience.
Local News For San Jose: https://alexa.amazon.com/spa/index.html#skills/dp/B01M8G6GSQ/?ref=skill_dsk_skb_ys
I’m Bored: https://alexa.amazon.com/spa/index.html#skills/dp/B01MTEIMA6/?ref=skill_dsk_skb_ys
ABC7 Los Angeles: https://alexa.amazon.com/spa/index.html#skills/dp/B01MY00ZKK/?ref=skill_dsk_skb_ys
Local News for San Jose is the first skill I chose. The publisher for this skill is Virtual New Center. This publication produces content on a daily basis. This skill gives a flash briefing of local news throughout the San Jose area. I chose this skill because I thought it would be interesting to hear news specific to the area I live in versus all of the Bay area. It delivers local news and it is not overwhelming. This skill is very short and the information seemed a little random. It only lasts about a minute and a half. I discovered this skill by searching for News in California on the Alexa app. This skill has one user rating and they complained that the skill was worthless because it repeats stories. It does well at offering local news but perhaps it is too short. It’s competition might be KRON4 News. I think older people might enjoy the content on this skill.
The second skill I chose was Where is California on Fire? I believe the publisher of this skill is www.whereiscaliforniaonfire.com. The skill is updated frequently. It’s purpose is to inform people of current fires in California. I chose this skill because I have many family members who live in fire prone areas. I also have family in the National guard who have been called to help with wildfires so, I often will search for information on this topic on the internet. This skill is straightforward and gets right to the point. It tells listeners where the fires in California are but that is all it does. It gives no other information on the fire other than what city is currently on fire. I think it would be better if it provided more details. This skill has no ratings and I am not sure who the competitors would be besides a general daily news source. This skill might be able to be monetized if the researchers wanted to partner with a California new organization and provide information to them.
The last skill I chose was KGTV 10News in San Diego. It is published by Scripps Media Inc. This skills gives a flash briefing every day. I chose this skill because I am from San Diego and I like to know what is going on down there. 10 News is familiar to me so it already seemed like it would be legitimate because its from an established source. This skill provides information on news happening in the San Diego and it wasn’t too short or too long. I think it does a good job of covering multiple areas of San Diego because it is a large city. They have to compete with Fox 5 News as well as NBC 7. I don’t know if I would say it is doing any better than its competition. I found this skill searching for California news sources. I think this skill could be used by all ages because it gives a good balance of information. One other thing I liked about this app was that after reporting on San Diego news it briefly covers national news.