7 Alexa skills you actually need in your life right now1
This quick growth in skills has been stimulated by Amazon, allowing third party developers from around the world to use Amazon’s server platforms to upload created skills pretty much for free. This, however, means that you could expect to find a great deal of useless and plainly weird skills, such as asking Alexa to give you a “Shakespeare Insult”, written by Shakespeare himself, or an Elf Name Generator. Because of all the elves around, you know.
Nonetheless, there are more than a handful of skills available on Amazon’s platform that are actually quite genius and applicable to universal human needs. Cat Facts skill being at the forefront, surely. From a virtual Psychologist that is actually science-backed, to intelligent home media servers, Alexa supports an admirable diversity of skills, out of which you would definitely find more than a bunch of well-thought ones.
Here is our take on 7 Alexa skills that you would actually benefit from in your daily existence. It’s the age of AIs, guys!
You can download and install the app on you computer, and then use Alexa-enabled units to play media on devices Plex is linked to. However, we must note that the free version of the software doesn’t go beyond a universal Plex player remote control, and you will have to part with $4.99 to get the Plex Pass (premium features package). Plex Pass subscribers are also able to synchronize content onto their phones to watch offline when not at home. However, you can always configure remote access to allow you to freely get into your media server from anywhere, as long as you have an Internet connection.
Automatic is both a skill and a device that supports the skill, which are intended for the US only. The device unit is a small box that connects to your car’s computer and feeds a lot of data about your car’s state and location, directly to the skill. The skill then allows Alexa to “know” things like how much gas you have left and what mileage you can cover, or map out where your car is currently parked.
The idea is that you are able to ask Alexa questions about your emotional or mental state, and it will consult the skill’s script to give you an adequate and professional answer that makes sense to your situation. The Java code still has room for improvement, but the skill is already quite useful and entertaining, as it is. Some users have voiced concerns, however, that the app doesn’t contain a suicide hotline to call, which you would expect from such an app.
WebMD is not an innovation in itself, as it has been a key go-to medical consultant for many people, for some years now. However, the virtual doctor service is now integrated into an Alexa skill, making the experience of a MD consultation even more real. You would be able to get consulted or informed on a range of conditions, conversing with the voice assistant, just like you would with an actual doctor.
You can ask Alexa to consult WebMD at any time, and give you advice out of a huge data base of symptoms, medication and diseases.
The skill contains a truly handy set of features, such as symptoms checker, drugs and treatments database, pill identification tool, first aid essentials, etc. You can simply ask Alexa to check with WebMD what the side-effects of a pill are, or what a particular disease is, and the AI will do its best to answer adequately. The skill would save a lot of time of shuffling through Wikipedia in search for a particular symptom, as Alexa will feed you with the needed info upon request.
Many of us are guilty of only pretending to know wine and always actually reaching for the bottles on sale. It’s still wine, right? The skill, on the other hand, has a big enough list of both wines and foods in its algorithm, and will provide you with the best to its knowledge wine selection. So you may actually learn a thing or two, while chatting with Alexa over what wine to pick for dinner. I wonder what goes well with a Big Mac…
If this then that
Well, Alexa integrates with IFTTT to allow you to build connections between different skills, or even link them to your iPhone or Android apps. Insane, we know. The options are sort of limitless here. You can come up with your own chains of actions and just ask Alexa to execute them for you. Think about how cool it would be to go home with a date and have Alexa play music and dim the lights, when you walk in and say “you look beautiful”, or something else less cheesy of a prompt command.
Yes, Alexa seems pretty cool, but, yes, there are rumours here and there of the AI featuring useless and boring apps. And, yes, one would normally expect this when a manufacturer doesn't exercise proper curation when third party coders get creative.
Nonetheless, Alexa packs a good amount of skills that can actually add value to your daily life and make you feel a step closer to a sci-fi movie. From commanding the AI to order your favorite Domino's pizza, to ordering a Uber cab by voice, while in a hurry, Alexa can be taught skills that we all use on a daily basis. The stimulated third party devs involvement will undoubtedly nourish a diverse and varied course of development for Alexa’s skills pool, apart from providing us with Harry Potter Sorting Hat –kind of apps. Alexa has the potential to turn into a preferred home assistant that Amazon will definitely look to expand even further.