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Amazon Echo: 20 Best Skills in the Alexa App

Updated on November 12, 2016
Chriswillman90 profile image

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

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The Best Skills from the Alexa App

The Alexa app store is quickly growing with 4000+ goofy, useful, and intriguing skills that can be voice activated through the Amazon Echo.

List of all Amazon Alexa Skills

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.

20. Fitbit

Fitbit activity trackers
Fitbit activity trackers | Source

The Best Activity Tracker

Pros:

  • 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.

Cons:

  • 1. Doesn't work with multiple Fitbit accounts
  • 2. Occasional inaccuracy with steps taken
  • 3. Additional features needed

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 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

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Alexa's Home Exercise Skill

Pros:

  • 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

Cons:

  • 1. Needs more exercise options
  • 2. 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.

This skill is a terrific entry in the fitness market especially when you consider the Echo's integration with popular fitness/wearable company Fitbit.

18. Stock Exchange

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Your Stock Portfolio

Pros:

  • 1. Administers a summary of your chosen stocks
  • 2. Can input most available stocks
  • 3. Gives you quick information to a broad portfolio

Cons:

  • 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

Summary:

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.

17. The Bartender

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Personal Drink Recipes

Pros:

  • 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

Cons:

  • 1. Misinterpretation of a few drink recipes
  • 2. Demands additional tweaks and options
  • 3. Voice recognition issues for some

Summary:

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 PatrĂ³n Tequila skill is another favorable addition for drink recipes.

16. Yo Momma Jokes

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Yo Momma Is so Fat...

Pros:

  • 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

Cons:

  • 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

Summary:

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. 4A Fart

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Amazon Echo's Fart App

Pros:

  • 1. The flatulence app does exactly what it's intended to do
  • 2. Provides laughs and giggles for the whole family
  • 3. Gives the stoic Echo an amusement factor

Cons:

  • 1. May be viewed in poor taste
  • 2. May be seen as inappropriate to introduce
  • 3. Can be viewed as disgusting if you lack a sense of humor

Summary:

This is a fart app plain and simple and you'll either love it or hate it. Personally I think it gives the rather stoic, boring Echo life and intrigue. Kids normally find it humorous and it does what it's intended to do.

If you find flatulence disgusting and in poor taste, then do not enable this skill.

14. SmartThings

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Smart Home Control

Pros:

  • 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

Cons:

  • 1. SmartThings hub required
  • 2. Overall cost of items can be very pricey
  • 3. Unable to change scenes

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, 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, 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

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Choose Your Own Adventure

Pros:

  • 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

Cons:

  • 1. More story options needed
  • 2. The stories are too short

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, 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.

12. Akinator

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20 Questions With Alexa

Pros:

  • 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

Cons:

  • 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.

Summary:

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

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Words With Echo

Pros:

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

Cons:

  • 1. More voice recognition problems
  • 2. A limited vocabulary and unable to recognize some words
  • 3. 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

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Alexa's Dirty Pickup Lines

Pros:

  • 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

Cons:

  • 1. Not suitable for all ages
  • 2. 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

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Capital One Banking: Voice Activated

Pros:

  • 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

Cons:

  • 1. Full functionality such as loan information/payments lacking
  • 2. Potential privacy/security risks if you're not careful

Summary:

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

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Personal Cookbook

Pros:

  • 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

Cons:

  • 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

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.

A secondary skill from the "Food Network" provides even more food recipes as well as direct tips from the show.

7. TV Shows

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The Amazon Echo TV Guide

Pros:

  • 1. Smooth use
  • 2. Executes action very well
  • 3. Gives you accurate information for your favorite show's next airing

Cons:

  • 1. Doesn't always understand the command
  • 2. May get shows mixed up

Summary:

Another handy skill that helps you identify the playing times and channel for your favorite shows, so it works as a voice activated TV guide.

It doesn't always get the show you've chosen on the first try because it struggles to differentiate between similar shows.

It's a must have skill if you're a TV addict, but if that's not enough, then try the "Milo" skill for locating various TV shows and movies either through standard cable or streaming platforms.

6. Automatic

Alexa, Where's My Car?

Pros:

  • 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

Cons:

  • 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

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

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Uber's Arrival

Pros:

  • 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

Cons:

  • 1. May experience difficulty when linking Uber account to Alexa
  • 2. Issues with use of home address
  • 3. 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

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Order Flowers for Mother's Day

Pros:

  • 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

Cons:

  • 1. Narrower range of floral options versus online account
  • 2. 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

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Alexa, Your Pizza is Here!

Pros:

  • 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

Cons:

  • 1. Little support outside the US

Summary:

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

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Batman Adventure Game

Pros:

  • 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

Cons:

  • 1. 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 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?

Pros:

  • 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

Cons:

  • 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

Summary:

I love Jeopardy so it's nice that they give you a Jeopardy style app where you're able to build your knowledge. 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.

Honorable Mentions

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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!

Pick the Best Skill

See results

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    • Pargee 9 months ago

      Hey there, thanks for the article! I'm the creator of the 7-Minute Workout skill and wanted to share that you can resume existing and track your completed workouts as of mid-January -- I just haven't updated the description at this point. Will definitely get this updated!

    • Chriswillman90 profile image
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      Krzysztof Willman 9 months ago from Parlin, New Jersey

      Thank you for the update and great skill. I'll make sure to update the information.

    • Chriswillman90 profile image
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      Krzysztof Willman 8 months ago from Parlin, New Jersey

      I like the layout and everything is well categorized. It makes finding certain skills a lot easier. Can I include the link to your site in my article?

    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 4 months ago from Long Island, NY

      I was thinking of buying the Echo ever since it first came out but I never understood if it was limited without buying all the other gadgets. I see now that in order to make it to all the wonderful things, one needs to purchase all the smart gadgets to go with it.

      Thanks for writing this very complete guide about Amazon's Alexa Echo. It's just the information I was looking for.

    • Chriswillman90 profile image
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      Krzysztof Willman 3 months ago from Parlin, New Jersey

      I'm glad I could help. Without the extra smart gadgets, the Echo is a more useful and attentive version of Siri, but with other tech devices, it can transform your home and offer you a lot more convenience. However I do think these skills are a nice touch because many don't require more accessories. All you need is to setup a few accounts for free and you'll be ready to go.

    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 3 months ago from Long Island, NY

      Thanks for that additional info in your prior comment. That makes it much clearer what to expect from Echo. I use Siri all the time on my iPad, so I guess I wouldn't get much more than that out of Echo without the additional devices.

    • Julian 2 months ago

      Basically, rubbish

    • Chriswillman90 profile image
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      Krzysztof Willman 2 months ago from Parlin, New Jersey

      If you say so, may I ask why?

    • UptownModel profile image

      Ella Bella 2 months ago from The Prestigious Kirby Residences

      @Chriswillman90... Asking why is pointless. Not worth your time:) Informative article, thank you for writing it.

    • Chriswillman90 profile image
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      Krzysztof Willman 8 weeks ago from Parlin, New Jersey

      No problem my only hope is that it helps inform a few people. Thank you

    • Christina 7 weeks ago

      Just played The Wayne Investigation, wow that was cool. So far that and the TrackR app(because I'm forever setting my phone down and forgetting where) are my favorites. I'd love more dynamic interactive games.

    • Neil H 6 weeks ago

      If these are the "20 Best Skills in the Alexa App" then it's not worth buying. I'm sure the Fart app will keep people occupied for years to come. Pickup Lines could be useful if you're an idiot.

    • Chriswillman90 profile image
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      Krzysztof Willman 6 weeks ago from Parlin, New Jersey

      There's always a ton more skills but it depends on the individual. Outside the Alexa skills it's still a nice product especially if you get the cheap Echo Dot. You'd be surprised how quickly you get accustomed to having one nearby. Will it change your life and is it a must have, probably not, but it is a lot more effective than most gadgets out there.

    • Chriswillman90 profile image
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      Krzysztof Willman 6 weeks ago from Parlin, New Jersey

      I'm really hoping they expand on that type of storytelling as it could be a killer feature in the future. There are so many possibilities and TrackR is nice to have if devices constantly get misplaced.

    • Echo Rocks 6 weeks ago

      The use of echo (dot) as an extremely inexpensive voice remote for music is endless, plus reading books both audio and mobi files. Honestly I was quite impressed.

    • Leslie 5 weeks ago

      After getting to experience the Echo at a family member's house, I decided to get one. Couldn't go another day without it. I love this article and may have to try a couple of the skills you listed that I don't already have. And for the others who aren't yet convinced that it is worth the expense, she is very helpful in the kitchen for timers and for deciding on your weather appropriate outfit each day. My family members are always asking me about the weather like I'm the weather man. I just relieved myself of that title. Alexa does it for me. And I love playing whatever music I want through a voice command. Nice speaker too. Calendar reminders, adding things to your grocery list or to-do list. Very happy I splurged on myself.

    • Chriswillman90 profile image
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      Krzysztof Willman 5 weeks ago from Parlin, New Jersey

      I'm still shocked Amazon is selling their Echo Dot for such a low amount, they really want you to buy one for every room of your home. I too enjoy the easy controls.

    • Chriswillman90 profile image
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      Krzysztof Willman 5 weeks ago from Parlin, New Jersey

      Happy to hear you're having a positive experience with the Echo. Most people I've come across have listed similar points as to why they love the product. I do get the naysayers that tell me that it's either too expensive or that their phones can do the same things Alexa can. I think those people are completely oblivious to Alexa and the Echo's advantages. Like you said, with Echo it's so easy to get the weather, create a grocery list, play music, or get corny jokes within seconds. Alexa is far more convenient than a phone within your home and she's a much better listener too. Thank you for sharing and giving more positive insight into this device, I hope consumers can understand why Echo isn't just a gimmicky product. Alexa is actually useful and fun.

    • DAVE O 4 weeks ago

      Does the 'Dot' support all 20+ functions you outline for the Echo here?

    • Chriswillman90 profile image
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      Krzysztof Willman 4 weeks ago from Parlin, New Jersey

      Yes any Alexa enabled device will support all third party skills as well as smart home devices.

    • Capt. David 4 weeks ago

      Is there a chess playing feature for Alexa? If so, how is it accessed?

    • Chriswillman90 profile image
      Author

      Krzysztof Willman 4 weeks ago from Parlin, New Jersey

      As far as I know that doesn't officially exist at the moment. There are generally skills that tell you facts about the game but none that make it playable just yet.

    • Mark 3 weeks ago

      Can you do these with the Alexa App on Android Play store?

    • Chriswillman90 profile image
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      Krzysztof Willman 3 weeks ago from Parlin, New Jersey

      That's where you can access these skills as well as on the Amazon website. The app has its own skills feature on the menu that shows new skills, trending skills, customer favorites and so forth.

    • Matt Wilson 2 weeks ago

      I think the concept sounds gimmicky no matter how it's defined in writing. Everyone has to experience this first hand in order for them to understand it's promise. The biggest compliment I can offer is that an unused room in our home is now a genuine draw with the introduction of echo dot.

    • Chriswillman90 profile image
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      Krzysztof Willman 2 weeks ago from Parlin, New Jersey

      Do you think the whole Echo/Alexa platform is gimmicky or some of the features like the skills? I can see how certain add-ons are that way but I don't think everything falls in that category. You're correct though that one must experience it before passing judgement and I understand how it's not for everyone. Perhaps people are just averse to new technological concepts as history has shown. I do think that the gimmicks will translate into usefulness over time and that more and more people will warm up to the idea. That's usually how these things work.

    • Joe 6 days ago

      Thanks for the article. She

      controls my lights, fans, and t-stats. Amazon music unlimited is great. These skills are icing on the cake. She is excellent at the animal game and 20 questions.

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