Amazon Echo: 20 Best Skills in the Alexa App
The Best Skills from the Alexa App
The Alexa app store is quickly growing with over 15,000 goofy, useful, and intriguing skills that can be voice activated through the Amazon Echo.
While most skills have little to offer, there are 20 great skills that everyone with an Echo, Echo Dot, or Amazon Tap device needs to enable to get the most out of their gadget.
The Best Activity Tracker
- 1. Fast updates on a variety of stats
- 2. Stats include steps taken, exercise goals, and sleep tracking
- 3. Integration with the most popular/affordable fitness company.
- 1. Doesn't work with multiple Fitbit accounts
- 2. Occasional inaccuracy with steps taken
- 3. Additional features needed
Fitbit's integration with Alexa and the Echo is a huge win for both products and the results are promising. Now you can ask Alexa on stats including weight, steps taken, exercise goals, sleep tracking, and more.
The biggest issue is that the skill doesn't allow for more than one Fitibt account, and alas it's the number one complaint in the Alexa app. Other notable issues include occasional inaccuracy with step count and a lack of extra features, but that's more subjective than anything.
In the end this is one of the best skills to date that has major potential going forward. Once multiple accounts can be used, then I'd say it's a near perfect skill.
19. The 7-Minute Workout
Alexa's Home Exercise Skill
- 1. One of the most popular and useful skills in Amazon's Alexa App
- 2. Ability to track finished routines and continue current/existing workouts
- 3. Offers a variety of routines and sets when you need to burn a few calories
- 1. Needs more exercise options
- 2. Only capable of short, high intensity bursts
It works effectively but its skill set is quite niche and may not be for everyone. The ability to perform a fast, fat burning workout is a major plus as is the tracking feature. Also existing workouts can be resumed and you're able to track finished routines.
This skill is a terrific entry in the fitness market especially when you consider the Echo's integration with popular fitness/wearable company Fitbit.
An alternate skill is called the "5-Minute Plank Workout" where you'll go through six different sets of this popular body core exercise.
18. Stock Exchange
Your Stock Portfolio
- 1. Administers a summary of your chosen stocks
- 2. Can input most available stocks
- 3. Gives you quick information to a broad portfolio
- 1. Alexa fails to recognize several stocks and letters
- 2. The voice recognition is lackluster and frustrating
- 3. Doesn't have ability to enter portfolio manually
This app is great when Alexa is able to understand you otherwise it can be very frustrating. There are several letters that are misinterpreted, which subsequently tells you the wrong stock option.
When it works, it really works but when it doesn't it can create headaches.
Alternate skill you can use is "TD Ameritrade" which provides thousands of quotes, ETF's, and mutual funds for all major US indices.
17. The Bartender
Personal Drink Recipes
- 1. Very accurate ingredient delivery of your favorite cocktail recipes.
- 2. Offers a multitude of drink options that's great for the older crowd
- 3. Good execution that makes it easy to create your own drinks
- 1. Misinterpretation of a few drink recipes
- 2. Demands additional tweaks and options
- 3. Voice recognition issues for some
This is one of the most well executed skills thus far in the Alexa app, and it's quite accurate in its drink recipe delivery. The main problems are that it may not understand a couple of cocktail meanings in the names.
The voice recognition issues are likely not related to the skill itself but rather the lack of Echo voice training, however; the consensus remains favorable.
If you're looking for an alternative skill to The Bartender, then the Patrón Tequila skill is another favorable addition for drink recipes.
16. Yo Momma Jokes
Yo Momma Is so Fat...
- 1. Does what it's meant to do very well
- 2. Offers numerous funny jokes for mass appeal
- 3. Variety of "Yo Mama" one liners
- 1. Not for all ages and doesn't have a setting for restricted vs. unrestricted jokes
- 2. Doesn't offer option to continue on to the next joke
- 3. Poor commands to trigger skill
The app is called "Yo Momma Jokes" but you have to say "ask/start Mom Jokes" to trigger the skill, which is odd. Other than that this skill is very funny and provides real humor versus the lackluster, internal jokes Alexa has.
15. Sleep and Relaxation Sounds
Amazon Echo's Sound Machine
To launch say "Alexa, open sleep sounds"
- 1. Over 40 high quality sounds that play on a loop
- 2. Excellent sound machine replacement
- 3. New sounds introduced on a weekly/monthly basis
- 1. May not play certain sounds when asked
- 2. Complaints about sound quality
Amazon Alexa's best collection of ambient noises that you'll find with standard ambient sounds like rain or thunderstorms to things like fireplace and airplane. There's over 40 quality noises that play on a loop.
You can also set up a timer for when you want the sound to stop playing, which makes for an excellent sound machine replacement. New sounds get introduced weekly/monthly but they don't all sound great sometimes.
Alexa may also not play every sound when asked but that shouldn't defer anyone who's in desperate need for a sound machine skill.
Smart Home Control
- 1. Integration with Alexa takes less than 5 minutes
- 2. Gives the ability to control lights, thermostats, security systems, etc.
- 3. The most trusted smart home brand
- 1. SmartThings hub required
- 2. Overall cost of items can be very pricey
- 3. Unable to change scenes
SmartThings is probably one of the best smart home hubs/products thus far with flawless integration with Alexa. You can control a multitude of devices including lights, security, and thermostats although you can't change scenes just yet.
The biggest drawbacks are the price of buying into the smart home ecosystem. You'll need a SmartThings hub before you buy their products (unless you own the Echo Plus), and the total cost of the hub and devices will be in the hundreds of dollars.
However if you're willing to forego the pricing issues, then this smart product is a must for any smart home.
13. The Magic Door
Choose Your Own Adventure
- 1. Choose from up to three different story settings
- 2. Your choices change the outcome of the tale
- 3. Excellent skill for children that delivers cool sound effects and immersion
- 1. More story options needed
- 2. The stories are too short
This skill unlocks a child's potential and explores their creativity with choices that affect the story. Similar to the Wayne Investigation app, real sound effects and your decisions tell the tale, however; it's not quite as immersive as the Wayne Investigation.
I wish there were more story options, and the stories themselves are a bit short but it's still enjoyable. In fact the shorter length makes it a good alternative to a bedtime story.
20 Questions With Alexa
- 1. Brings the creative, guessing app to your Echo
- 2. Fun for everyone to try
- 3. Alexa guesses correctly for each character you think of
- 1. Launching this skill is difficult if you don't say the correct pronunciation; make sure to say open/start (aa) kin-ator instead of (ah) kin-ator.
The only problem I had was launching this skill because for some reason it didn't launch when I said the correct app name. Besides that everything else is fantastic and Akinator is the most intriguing game available for your Amazon Echo.
11. Amazing Word Master Game
Words With Echo
- 1. One of the best games thus far for Alexa
- 2. Challenging yet a blast to play
- 3. Very simple to understand
- 1. More voice recognition problems
- 2. A limited vocabulary and unable to recognize some words
- 3. Needs a better algorithm, word selection, and diversity
I enjoy this game because it's simple to play and a lot of fun, however; there's been problems when it comes to voice recognition and/or limited vocabulary.
It can get repetitive at times, which doesn't bode well when it fails to understand what you're saying. Even with all those issues, it's one of my favorite games in the Alexa app.
10. Pickup Lines
Alexa's Dirty Pickup Lines
- 1. Funniest skill to date with numerous pickup lines
- 2. Transforms Alexa into a personable chat-bot
- 3. Fantastic way to show off Alexa and your Amazon Echo
- 1. Not suitable for all ages
- 2. Some jokes are crude and inappropriate
The funniest skill to date with jokes that'll actually make you laugh. A fantastic skill to showcase Alexa to your adult friends and family members.
The best part outside the one-liners are Alexa's quips in between each pickup line.
These random quips give her a unique personality that I haven't seen before. The one slight negative is that this app is not suitable for all ages due to some crude jokes, but teens/adults will love it.
Everyone who owns an Alexa controlled device like the Echo, the Echo Dot, and the Amazon Tap needs to enable and try this skill for yourself.
You won't regret it.
9. Capital One
Capital One Banking: Voice Activated
- 1. Check account information and recent transactions
- 2. Pay your credit card bills and discover your current balance
- 3. Check and pay home/auto loans as well as mortgage and car payments
- 1. Full functionality such as loan information/payments lacking
- 2. Potential privacy/security risks if you're not careful
A highly rated useful skill that brings a whole new level of innovation to the Echo and Alexa. This could bring in a flurry of other banking companies to link with Alexa.
The commands give you the ability to check balances and transactions, make credit card payments, and even check/pay your home and auto loans all via voice.
There's always going to be a security risk when you get this personal, but luckily you have to give a four digit pin before Alexa accesses your information. In the end it's a fantastic add-on that taps into the Echo's potential and what we thought was possible.
8. Campbell's Kitchen
- 1. Trusted and well-known food company app
- 2. Gives you a multitude of recipes for things like meat, soup, or fish
- 3. Presents a cooking book style summary in both the app and through your e-mail
- 1. Needs more capabilities and options instead of recipe delivery through email
- 2. Potential advertising and spamming headaches
- 3. Would work better with a recipe to-do list included
A recipe based skill from a trustworthy/well-known source.
You get a decent selection of food recipes and it emails you the full recipe, however; I wish there were better ways of noting the recipe because an email from Campbell's opens the door for spam/junk posts.
Also it would be great if the ingredients you needed could automatically be added to a to-do list for your recipe of choice.
A secondary skill from the "Food Network" provides even more food recipes as well as direct tips from the show.
7. Valossa Movie Finder
The Amazon Echo Movie Guide
- 1. Smooth use
- 2. Executes action very well
- 3. Gives you accurate information for your favorite movie
- 1. Doesn't always understand the command
- 2. May get movies mixed up
Another handy skill that helps you find the name of a movie you're looking for.
It's a must have skill if you're a movie addict because it'll give you important info about a particular movie or find a movie that you don't know the title of.
An alternative skill is called "Milo", and it locates various TV shows and movies either through standard cable or streaming platforms.
Alexa, Where's My Car?
- 1. Easy to sync to your car from Alexa
- 2. Provides great information on gas, car location, and distance driven
- 3. Excellent first step to linking with your car
- 1. Doesn't work without an Automatic account and adapter (must be purchased)
- 2. Information limited to one vehicle per account/adapter
- 3. More features and tweaks needed
It's a stepping stone for using your Echo to communicate with your vehicle, and it does it pretty well. The issues come down to a lack of features and inability to interact with multiple vehicles per account.
You also have to buy the adapter and set up an account for it to work, however; the features it does have work perfectly.
- 1. Good interface and accessibility
- 2. Simple request for an Uber through a voice command
- 3. Get various Uber ride options as well as ride status or cancellation
- 1. May experience difficulty when linking Uber account to Alexa
- 2. Issues with use of home address
- 3. Minimal features and no international support
This skill was all the rage when it was introduced prior to the Super Bowl, but it's far from perfect. According to reviews on Alexa, some users were satisfied with its use and ease but several had issues. One of the complaints was a lack of international support (address).
Another problem was trouble linking the Uber account as well as issues regarding the home address on the Echo. Clearly there are kinks to work out and features to add but it's a huge step towards something much bigger and useful.
Order Flowers for Mother's Day
- 1. Send flowers to loved ones via voice
- 2. Able to choose floral arrangement and delivery date
- 3. Syncs with your existing 1-800-Flowers account
- 1. Narrower range of floral options versus online account
- 2. Privacy and security concerns
You can now order flowers to loved ones via voice through your 1-800-Flowers account. You have to ability to choose what floral options work best and which day to deliver the flowers.
Despite having numerous options, there remain limitations to what you can order through Alexa versus your online account, and there's always a privacy/security risk with voice purchasing.
However as long you're cautious, this skill will enhance your Alexa device's usefulness and make multitasking a breeze.
3. Domino's Pizza
Alexa, Your Pizza is Here!
- 1. Ordering pizza become a whole lot easier (and lazier)
- 2. You can track your order's status
- 3. Setup through Domino's is a snap with options for recent orders and a favorites list
- 1. Little support outside the US
This was another major skill added before the Super Bowl and it continues to enhance what the Echo is and what it can one day become. How easy is it to call out for pizza on your Echo and have it arrive within 10-20 minutes.
Once you set up a list of favorites on the Domino's site and link your account, then you shouldn't have any problems ordering and being able to check the order status is a nice bonus.
Again skills like these continue to show why the Echo and Alexa are a force to be reckoned with.
2. The Wayne Investigation
Batman Adventure Game
- 1. Choose your own adventure style game play via voice
- 2. Well written story with tons of choices/options
- 3. Top notch quality and audio
- 1. I wish there were more games like this
We saw a taste of a choose your own adventure game in "The Magic Door" skill, but this takes things to another level and is fitting given Batman v. Superman. There are no cons that I can think of from the game itself.
It's a fun Batman themed adventure-mystery game with quality writing and audio. I hope this skill will introduces more popular "fanboy" titles in the future.
1. Jeopardy J6
What is Jeopardy?
- 1. It's helps build your daily knowledge
- 2. Very popular skill from a hugely successful game show
- 3. It's not an overbearing quiz app
- 1. User complaints of its six questions a day format
- 2. Answer voice input and correct answers sometimes don't mesh together
- 3. Technical and design aspects fall beyond creative applications
I love Jeopardy so it's nice that they give you a Jeopardy style app where you're able to build your knowledge. Also you'll soon have the ability to purchase Echo buttons that act as buzzers for trivia games like Jeopardy.
Many of the poor voice recognition problems for this skill apply to several skills in the Alexa app.
Amazon and its third party developers need to substantially improve their software for Alexa and Echo to benefit. This is the reason why I didn't include most smart home skills on this list from the likes of AnyMote, Garageio, HomeSeer Technologies, ISY, LIFX, and many others.
In my opinion, those designed smart home third party apps have another year or so before they will be considered reliable/useful for the consumer. In fact even Amazon Echo's smart home premiere companies require updates.
5 Honorable Mentions
The best alternative to Uber allows you to request rides from the work/home addresses in your Lyft account, ask where your ride is, and how long it'll take. You can even use your voice to rate your drivers.
2. Home Advisor
An easy way to connect with 500+ pre-screened home service pros such as plumbers, handyman, and electricians. When you give your zip code and phone number, you'll get a call in minutes from a home expert of your choosing.
Powered by the Boston Children's Hospital, you'll get detailed information about common ailments such as colds, fevers, or nosebleeds. You'll also be provided with info on medication dosing. It's the best health skill thus far in the Alexa app.
Discover local events for the upcoming weekend or see what's happening in a city near you. You can choose which date you want to know info for through this easily accessible skill.
5. 1-Minute Mindfulness (Mindfulness)
To launch say open "Mindfulness", and choose from a variety of backdrop sounds for your meditation such as a river or forest meditation.
This skill wants you to breath and not think for a minute, and it's designed for anytime stress relief and relaxation.