I got a lot of positive feedback on my last roundup of utility skills, and enough time has passed since then that I think we’re due for another.
Here’s the same disclaimer I shared last time:
I make it a policy not to review skills, because I’m a skill developer too and I feel it’s a conflict of interest. Still, I check in on the skills tab from time to time to see if any new, useful skills have popped up among the many trivia and just-for-fun skills, and I’ve got some more to share with you today.
I’m not saying I personally recommend any of these skills or even necessarily use any of them myself, I’m just letting you know they exist. Also note, there are now hundreds of skills so this list is not exhaustive; I’ve picked out a sampling of new skills that seem like they’d be of interest to the most people, and will post more lists like this in the future from time to time.
Bring On The Skills!
To try any of these skills yourself, go to the Alexa app (also available online at http://alexa.amazon.com), click or tap the Skills link in the left-hand menu bar, then enter the name of the skill in the search box. Click or tap through to read the full description, sample phrases and directions for each skill, then click/tap the Enable button to enable the skill. Note that there may be a delay of several minutes before your profile has been updated so Alexa can access the new skill.
Descriptions below are from the skills’ detail pages.
With a streamlined ordering process, you can quickly send flowers to your loved ones using this 1-800-Flowers skill. Simply connect your 1-800-Flowers account and you can send your contacts beautiful arrangements. You can choose the floral arrangement style, arrangement size, and delivery date. The flowers will be delivered to your contact’s address in your 1-800-Flowers account. Your existing payment credentials in your account are used to pay for the delivery, so there is no need to enter additional payment information. It has never been simpler to show those you love that you care.
ColorHex is allows you to convert between color names and their corresponding hex values. ColorHex is indispensable for graphic design, web design and any other task that uses hexadecimal color values. ColorHex can convert in each direction, giving you names for hex values and hex values for color names.
The Cat Feeder
This skill allows you to check if you have fed your cat recently. Useful to have if your household contains several people that have different schedules and you want to make sure that at least somebody fed the cat before you left the house. Usage is very simple, every time you ask Echo if you fed the cat feeder it will tell you the last time it was fed. Depending on your question and how long ago it was it will the follow up with a question of if you plan on feeding it now. If you say yes that is the new current time it has been fed. It assumes that the cat is hungry if it has not been fed in 6 hours.
Aether Air Quality Reporter
Retrieves the current air quality of most major U.S. cities. To use aether, try saying….Alexa, Ask Aether about Minneapolis. Retrieves the current air quality index (AQI) of pm 2.5 from www.airnowapi.org.
My Translator by Vonage
Use your Echo to translate words and phrases. Supported languages: Spanish, French, Portuguese, Simplified Chinese, Italian, Hebrew, Russian, Polish
Scryb makes it easy for anyone to send a SMS text message hands-free from home, or when you don’t have access to a smartphone. To start using the Scryb skill, say: “Alexa, open Scryb.” (pronounce it like the word ‘scribe’). Alexa will then ask you for the phone number of the text recipient. Then tell Alexa the 10 digit phone number – example: “123-555-1212”
Movies For Redbox
Movies for redbox tells you the latest and popular movies you can rent from redbox kiosk. It updates daily with most popular movies, and always keep you up to date with what’s new.
Costa Rica News
Costa Rica news will get you the latest news from Costa Rica in english, all the information comes from local trusted sources like newspapers such as: the tico times and the Star of Costa Rica, among others. You’ll get the news as soon as they’re published, all you have to do is enable the skill and say open “Costa Rica News”. These feeds are already free. More sources coming…
Samsung ARTIK Cloud
The Samsung ARTIK Cloud Alexa Skill lets you command by voice any device connected to the ARTIK Cloud platform. You can tell ARTIK which action you want to perform on which device. For example, to command your living room light, you may tell ARTIK to “turn on the living room light” or “turn off the living room light”.
In need of some dice? Dungeon dice can roll a random 4-sided, 6-sided, 8-sided, 10-sided and 20-sided dice for you. This skill is intended to be a fast, easy way to generate random dice rolls, wether you’re playing a game with friends or just looking for some random dice! You can ask Alexa for dice rolls with the formal “D” or without. For example “Roll a d20” works just as well as “Roll a 20.”
Want to be able to ask Alexa what the wind conditions are like for your city? The Alexa Wind Report service allows you to do that! You can simply ask Alexa for the current wind report in a specific city and she will respond with: “calm” for no wind or something like “North at 4 mph”. Useful for when you want to figure out if you can fly your drone, fly your kite, go sailing, or just if you should wear your windbreaker instead of that warm but wind susceptible sweater.
Are you tired of checking different website to find the available parking spots? This skill will solve your problem with available parking spots (real time) or parking locations near where you plan on going to either for dinner, events or hanging out. This skill uses both Parkwhiz and Google Nearby for parking information.
Do you ever find that you are missing an ingredient when following a recipe? Chef can help! Ask what can be substituted. Some ingredients have multiple options. You can also ask Chef how much certain ingredients weigh, which is especially helpful for baking, or any kind of cooking where reproducibility is important. Not every ingredient that Chef knows has a substitute and a weight. Some ingredients only have one or the other.
Remember Your Keys
Have Alexa help you figure out if you remembered to do everything you need to do before you leave the house. Did you remember your keys? How about your wallet? And did you turn the oven off so your house won’t be filled with smoke when you come back?
Slow Carb Checker
It is often difficult the remember all the foods and drinks you can consume on the Slow Carb Diet. A lot of times, we end up having to do searches on the internet. This is painful and inconvenient. Slow Carb Checker allows you to simply ask Alexa, for example, “Can I have almond milk?” to find out.
* * *
The Microsoft Surface 3 Tablet (10.8-Inch, 128 GB, Intel Atom, Windows 10) is the 3rd generation combination laptop/tablet with touchscreen capability; it’s less expensive and rated higher than the most recent generation in the line (that would be the Surface Pro 4), and right now (as of 4/28/16) it’s available at a discount price: $479.99 instead of the original price of $599. Currently rated 4/5 stars. Also available in a 64GB model, currently priced at $379.
Advertisements make it possible for Love My Echo to bring you great content for free, so thanks for your support.
* * *