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Top 25 Most Useful Alexa Skills

Krzysztof is a lifelong future tech junkie investigating the latest stories from companies like Apple, Samsung, Google, and Amazon.

The Best Skills from Amazon Alexa

The Alexa app store is quickly growing with over 200,000 goofy, useful, and intriguing skills that can be voice activated through the Amazon Echo.

While most skills have little to offer, there are 25 great skills that everyone with an Echo product (Echo Dot, Echo Show, Amazon Tap) needs to enable to get the most out of their gadget.

Most skills can be enabled via voice (Alexa app access not necessary) unless account linking or permissions are required.

25. The Bartender + Patron Tequila

"Alexa, ask the bartender to pick a drink."

Pros:

  • Curated cocktail recipes including ingredients, portions, and instructions
  • Search for drinks by their ingredient/s or get random recommendations
  • Get cocktail making tips

Cons:

  • Requires age verification (21+ only)
  • Not suitable for anyone under 21
  • Ingredients and drinks may be inaccurate or spoken incorrectly

Summary:

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This is a terrific skill for cocktail lovers and for those summer festivities with friends and loved ones.

Both of these skills can provide you with recipes on how to make a variety of drinks with whatever products you have available. You can also learn tips and tricks on how to create the best drinks.

However be mindful that Patron Tequila requires you to verify your age by entering your e-mail address and age (21+ only), which is a bit odd considering it's just an app. You may also find that Alexa mispronounces some of the drink names and ingredients. From time to time she may also give you the wrong recipe.

Still, they're two handy skills that'll give Alexa's adult users something cool to shoot for.

24. Bible

"Alexa, ask the Bible App for the verse of the day."

Pros:

  • Includes the 11 most popular English versions of the Bible
  • Professionally translated audio for NLT, NIV, ESV, and KJV
  • Create custom reading plans with relevant scriptures for your mood

Cons:

  • Users complained of the voice that was used
  • Skill doesn't always function properly

Summary:

For the religious people among us, the Bible is a spiritual skill that can read scriptures based on your mood, give you the verse of the day, and narrate the Bible for you.

You can even customize your daily reading plans to the book (John) of your choosing, which presents itself as an audio-book version of the Bible.

Some users weren't happy with the melancholy narration voice, and others found it difficult to get the skill to work properly. Certainly this skill could use more updates, but I'm sure they're working on it.

I haven't seen as many faith-based skills in the Alexa app, so I'm glad they've included this one. Hopefully we'll see more of them, and from other religions, in the future.

23. Yes Sire

"Alexa, play Yes Sire."

Pros:

  • Interactive and engaging
  • Easy to play
  • Choice-based storytelling

Cons:

  • Not suitable for everyone
  • Can get repetitive
  • Expansion packs cost money

Summary:

Yes Sire is one of the more engaging games you can play on your Echo devices.

In this skill, you're a medieval lord who has to make difficult choices with simple yes/no answers that will have grave consequences for your kingdom. The choice-based storytelling is a lot of fun with great interactive elements that'll keep you entertained.

Regrettably due to the suggestive/violent material, it's not suitable for all ages. The choices may also repeat after a while, which you can circumvent by buying additional in-game content via expansion packs.

The packs are slightly cheaper for Prime members ($2.5 vs. $3), but understandably not everyone will want to spend money on more material.

But even if you don't buy the packs, you'll still get a fantastic skill that'll amuse you and keep you occupied.

22. TED Talks

"Alexa ask TED Talks to play the latest talk."

Pros:

  • Access TED's huge library of talks and ideas
  • You can pick and choose which category or topic you want
  • You can pause, resume, and hear how long each TED talk will be

Cons:

  • Hit or miss search functionality
  • Works better with visual cues
  • TED Talks may be too long

Summary:

TED Talks invoke some of the most inspiring and creative ideas in the world, and now you can search for your favorites through Alexa.

You can also pause, resume, and hear how long any talk will be.

My biggest gripe is that many talks work better with visuals, and they would make an excellent companion skill to the visual Echo Show, Fire TV Cube or Spot.

Additionally the search/filter settings are very poor and Alexa often misinterprets what you say, however; don't let that take away from the experience.

This is a terrific skill for students, educators, and anyone interested in ideas, inspiring stories, and more.

21. Translated

"Alexa, ask Translated to say hello in Spanish."

Pros:

  • Can translate short sentences from English into 36 other languages
  • You can repeat or slow down the translation speed
  • Best translation skill available

Cons:

  • More languages needed
  • You must speak to Alexa in English to get translations

Summary:

Translated is one of the most useful Alexa skills today with the ability to translate from English into 36 other languages.

The translations are easy to understand, may be repeated if you didn't hear them, and can be slowed down if she says them too fast. Unfortunately your origin language must be English for the skill to function and only 36 languages are currently translatable.

Despite those limitations, you won't find a better translation skill to use, and perhaps it'll be updated eventually to include more language support.

So if you're in the market for a quick machine translator, then Translated is the skill for you.

20. Fitbit

"Alexa, ask Fitbit how I'm doing today."

Pros:

  • Fast updates on a variety of stats
  • Stats include steps taken, exercise goals, and sleep tracking
  • Integration with the most popular/affordable fitness company.

Cons:

  • Problems with data syncing
  • Additional features needed
  • Must enable all permissions to get info

Summary:

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 lacks extra features that the app provides, and at times it struggles to identify & sync your Fitbit data. Also you must make sure all permissions are enabled before data can be accessed.

Regardless of the cons, this is still one of the best skills to date, and it has major potential going forward once those issues get resolved.

19. The 7-Minute Workout

"Alexa, start seven minute workout."

Pros:

  • Images and tutorials of exercises can be viewed in the Alexa app
  • Ability to track finished routines and continue current/existing workouts
  • Offers a variety of routines and sets when you need to burn a few calories

Cons:

  • Needs more exercise options and difficulty levels
  • Only capable of short, high intensity bursts

Summary:

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.

The latest version now contains images and tutorials of your workout/exercises within the Alexa app.

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. AnyPod

"Alexa, ask AnyPod to subscribe to Joe Rogan."

Pros:

  • Access 1000's of podcasts
  • Podcast playback controls (skip ahead, go back, next episode)
  • Easy to use with numerous podcasts added daily

Cons:

  • Not all podcasts are available
  • Alexa may not understand the exact podcast you wanted

Summary:

This is one of the best podcast skills for Alexa with 1000's of podcasts available. Additionally you have full playback control with the ability to skip ahead, go back, play the next episode, play specific episodes, and manage your subscriptions.

And best of all, if your favorite podcast isn't on there, you can email the developer at anypodskill@gmail.com to tell them to include your podcast.

Understandably not all podcasts will be available, but the list grows daily. The biggest issue I've come across is that Alexa sometimes won't recognize the exact podcast you're looking for especially if it's a short title. Perhaps having Alexa read off a list of similar podcasts that you can then select from may be the answer.

Still, this is the most reliable podcast skill for your Echo devices, and I highly recommend it. Furthermore if you have an Alexa enabled car device, then it's great for listening to podcasts on the go.

17. Find My Phone

"Alexa, Find My Phone."

Pros:

  • Locates your lost phone
  • Supports mobile calling to other numbers when added
  • Quick and simple to use

Cons:

  • Doesn't always work
  • Setup can be annoying

Summary:

This is a great skill for anyone who has ever misplaced their phone. All you have to do is link your account, add your number, and ask Alexa to find your phone whenever you've lost it.

You can also add or delete extra numbers and tell her to call them. Remember that this skill only supports mobile numbers.

Find My Phone works well for the most part, but there have been times when Alexa says it can't be accessed right now. The setup also took a few tries before she was able to start calling my phone.

I've found this skill to be incredibly handy, and it utilizes Alexa's calling feature perfectly.

16. Yo Momma Jokes

"Alexa, tell me a Yo Momma Joke."

Pros:

  • Does what it's meant to do very well
  • Offers numerous funny jokes for mass appeal
  • Variety of "Yo Mama" one liners

Cons:

  • Not appropriate for all ages
  • Very similar skills available

Summary:

There are multiple "Yo Mama" joke skills currently available, and they all serve their purpose well with a variety of different one-liners.

Not all jokes are age appropriate but there is a family friendly version (by developer learyce) out there.

Because the invocation phrases are so similar, you may not always get the best Yo Mama skill, but I still think you'll find something to laugh at. This may not be the most profound or useful skill, but it gets your funny bone going and that's all we need sometimes.

15. Sleep and Relaxation Sounds

"Alexa, open Sleep Sounds."

Pros:

  • Over 50 high quality sounds that play on a loop
  • Excellent sound machine replacement
  • New sounds introduced on a weekly/monthly basis

Cons:

  • May not play certain sounds when asked
  • Complaints about sound quality

Summary:

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 50 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.

14. SmartThings

"Alexa, set the Living Room lights to warm white."

Pros:

  • Gives the ability to control lights, thermostats, security systems, etc.
  • The most trusted smart home brand
  • Compatible with LIFX, GE, iHome, Honeywell, ecobee, Kwikset, and more

Cons:

  • SmartThings hub required (unless you own Echo Plus)
  • Overall cost of items can be very pricey
  • Initial setup may be tedious

Summary:

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, switches, security systems, and thermostats.

You could also create scenes/routines to control multiple devices at once through Alexa groups.

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

"Alexa, open the magic door."

Pros:

  • Choose from up to three different story settings
  • Your choices change the outcome of the tale
  • Excellent skill for children that delivers cool sound effects and immersion

Cons:

  • More story options needed

Summary:

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, but the ones available are still enjoyable. It's a great way to tell your children bedtime stories, and it's one of the best kids skills Alexa has to offer.

For more advanced and mature choice-based skills, check out Escape the Room or Dungeon Adventure.

12. Akinator

"Alexa, start Akinator."

Pros:

  • Brings the creative, guessing app to your Echo
  • Fun for everyone to try
  • Alexa guesses correctly for each character you think of

Cons:

  • The sound effects in between guesses can get a bit annoying and obnoxious

Summary:

The official "Akinator" skill brings the fun of guessing to Alexa. Your goal is to think of any character, real or fictional, and see if the Akinator genie will correctly guess your character.

This skill works well for the most part, but there have been complaints over the excessive use of sound effects in between guesses. Other than that, I would highly recommend enabling this skill.

11. Amazing Word Master Game

"Alexa, ask Word Master to play a game."

Pros:

  • One of the best games thus far for Alexa
  • Challenging yet a blast to play
  • Very simple to understand

Cons:

  • More voice recognition problems
  • A limited vocabulary and unable to recognize some words
  • Needs a better algorithm, word selection, and diversity

Summary:

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, open pickup lines."

Pros:

  • Funniest skill to date with numerous pickup lines
  • Transforms Alexa into a personable chat-bot
  • Fantastic way to show off Alexa and your Amazon Echo

Cons:

  • Not suitable for all ages
  • Some jokes are crude and inappropriate

Summary:

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

"Alexa, ask Capital One what's my account balance?"

Pros:

  • Check account information and recent transactions
  • Pay your credit card bills and discover your current balance
  • Check and pay home/auto loans as well as mortgage and car payments

Cons:

  • Potential privacy/security risks if you're not careful
  • Lacks payment flexibility that the app and/or website has

Summary:

A highly rated useful skill that brings a whole new level of innovation to Echo and Alexa as well as potential privacy concerns.

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 can create a personal key for extra security. Users have complained about linking errors and a lack of payment functionality that the website or app has, so please be aware of that.

Other banking skills that are available include the Amex skill for your American Express account/s, U.S. Bank, and the PayPal skill to check your balances and send/request money.

I'd also recommend the Bloomberg and TD Ameritrade skills if you're interested in US stocks and the world market.

8. Campbell's Kitchen

"Alexa, ask Campbell's Kitchen what's for dinner."

Pros:

  • Trusted and well-known food company app
  • Gives you a multitude of recipes for things like meat, soup, or fish
  • Presents a cooking book style summary in both the app and through your e-mail

Cons:

  • Needs more capabilities and options instead of recipe delivery through email
  • Potential advertising and spamming headaches
  • Would work better with a recipe to-do list included

Summary:

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.

Others skills like Food Network and Allrecipes provide even more food recipes as well as visuals if you have an Echo Show or Spot device.

7. Valossa Movie Finder

"Alexa, ask movie finder what are the best romantic movies."

Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • Executes action very well
  • Gives you accurate information for your favorite movie

Cons:

  • Doesn't always understand the command
  • May get movies mixed up

Summary:

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 called MovieBot can recommend and discuss various movies based on what you're into. It can also stream movie trailers and give you showtimes for different movies in theaters and on Amazon Prime.

6. Automatic

"Alexa, ask Automatic where my car is."

Pros:

  • Easy to sync to your car from Alexa
  • Provides great information on gas, car location, and distance driven
  • Excellent first step to linking with your car

Cons:

  • Doesn't work without an Automatic account and adapter (must be purchased)
  • Information limited to one vehicle per account/adapter
  • More features and tweaks needed

Summary:

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.

5. Uber

"Alexa, ask Uber to request a ride."

Pros:

  • Good interface and accessibility
  • Simple request for an Uber through a voice command
  • Get various Uber ride options as well as ride status or cancellation

Cons:

  • May experience difficulty when linking Uber account to Alexa
  • Issues with use of home address
  • Minimal features and no international support

Summary:

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.

4. 1-800-Flowers

"Alexa, ask 1-800-Flowers to order flowers for my sister for her birthday."

Pros:

  • Send flowers to loved ones via voice
  • Able to choose floral arrangement and delivery date
  • Syncs with your existing 1-800-Flowers account

Cons:

  • Narrower range of floral options versus online account
  • Privacy and security concerns

Summary:

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, open Dominos and place an order."

Pros:

  • Ordering pizza become a whole lot easier (and lazier)
  • You can track your order's status
  • Setup through Domino's is a snap with options for recent orders and a favorites list

Cons:

  • Little support outside the US

Summary:

This is another major skill that has enhanced what Echo has become. Skills like this along with the Pizza Hut skill have made it much easier to order pizza on your Echo products.

With this skill, you can build a new order from scratch, place a favorite order, and track your order's status. You'll need to link your Dominos account and have a Domino's Pizza Profile to do things like re-order past orders.

If you'd like, you can sign up to get tracker notifications for real-time updates. To do this, you must allow Alexa permissions to access your Pizza Profile phone number

The full setup will only take a few minutes, and once you're done, you can finally enjoy ordering from your favorite pizza chains through only your voice.

2. The Wayne Investigation

"Alexa, open the Wayne Investigation."

Pros:

  • Choose your own adventure style game play via voice
  • Well written story with tons of choices/options
  • Top notch quality and audio

Cons:

  • I wish there were more games like this

Summary:

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 films like Batman v. Superman becoming huge hits. 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

"Alexa, Play Jeopardy!"

Pros:

  • It's helps build your daily knowledge
  • Very popular skill from a hugely successful game show
  • It's not an overbearing quiz app

Cons:

  • User complaints of its six questions a day format
  • Technical and voice recognition errors for some

Summary:

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 now have the ability to purchase Echo buttons that act as buzzers for trivia games like Jeopardy and Trivial Pursuit.

If you're unsatisfied by the lack of questions, then you can become a Prime member to access Double Jeopardy (6 extra daily clues) or subscribe to Double Jeopardy for $1.99 a month.

This skill works great for the most part but there have been some technical and voice recognition problems when answering questions, so make sure to speak clearly when responding.

If regular Jeopardy isn't your style, then try the Teen and Sports Jeopardy skills and test your knowledge there.

5 Honorable Mentions

1. Lyft

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.

3. KidsMD

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.

4. StubHub

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.

Your Turn!

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Questions & Answers

Question: Can I link a smart TV to Alexa?

Answer: I use either my Fire Cube or the Fire Stick to control my smart TV with Alexa. If you're looking for a more direct connection, then there are Alexa enabled smart TVs that provide seamless controls. Additionally, depending on your cable provider or the cable box you're using, you may also be able to get Alexa to control them.

I have an article discussing "Alexa's 20 Best Features" that provides a lot more detail about Alexa's TV/Entertainment controls.

Question: Have you checked out the amazing Lemonade Stand game skill?

Answer: I have seen it and it looks promising. I have a separate article focused mainly