There is a chance you might have heard of Alexa. There’s an equally large chance you’re now wearing a blank expression and that you have no idea at all who or what Alexa is.
Alexa is a virtual personal assistant which was created by Amazon to rival Siri and other such assistants. Alexa can be found in Amazon’s Echo speaker as well as in some of their other devices and can be linked to a variety of smart products within your home. Alexa allows the user to verbalise commands from anywhere in the home thanks to the ability to have an item connected to the network in every single room of your house.
Alexa is a smart piece of technology that interacts with you and learns more about you through these interactions, providing help and entertainment whenever you need it.
Amazon has updated Alexa’s intelligence so it is at the peak it now finds itself. Indeed where Alexa once had a dozen so called ‘Skills’ it now reportedly has 3,000 or more.
Here are some of the greatest Skills Alexa possesses:
Do the chores
This Skill sadly only works in the US, but if you do you can have Alexa clean your floors. How? It will connect with the iRobot Roomba vacuum cleaner and render your floors dust and debris free with one simple command. This might be one of the best examples of technology making living easier.
Increase Alexa’s Skills
That’s right, one of the Skills is the ability to find more Skills. This works thanks to Skill Finder. Ask Alexa to tell Skill Finder to give you a Skill of the Day and it will do so. Ask Alexa to find the best new skills on Skill Finder and it will. This is a potentially never ending goldmine of new and useful Skills.
Find your phone
We’ve all done it before, you put your phone down at home and you don’t remember where you left it. Thanks to TrackR you can ask Alexa to find your phone. Your phone will then ring at full volume to aid you in finding it. It’s like the modern equivalent of one of those whistling keyrings from the 80s and 90s.
Control your media library
Thanks to Plex all of your media library is a command away without having to scroll through lists and lists of titles. With Plex Media Server and an Echo in your living room you can tell Alexa to play any TV episode or film you wish. You can also have Alexa play you any song of your choice by any artist of your choosing from Spotify through the Echo speaker.
By using Hue lights you can have Alexa change the mood in a room. Brighter? Dimmer? A different colour? Absolutely no problem for Alexa. As ever it’s just a simple vocal command away, eliminating the need to get out of your favourite chair.
Feel the heat
A great Skill to ensure you’re never too hot or too cold is Hive. Simply tell Alexa to turn the thermosat up or down or even turn your heating off altogether and it’ll be done. As an added bonus you might even get to enjoy a verbal exchange with Alexa as she does this.
Need a ride?
Simply link your Uber account to your Echo and any time you need a cab you can simply have Alexa arrange it for you rather than having to phone someone or waste time inputting details using an app.
Perhaps all the labour saving Skills have made you a little lethargic and caused you to put on a bit of weight. If you feel like you need some exercise Alexa will talk you through a work out like a computerised personal trainer. She’ll even send demonstration pictures or videos of specific exercises to your phone in case you don’t know how to execute them all.
Get the news
If you feel like you don’t have time to read a newspaper or watch the latest bulletin on TV then don’t fear, Alexa’s here. Alexa will read you the latest news stories from The Guardian, as detailed as you like, while you do something else.
Keep updated with sports news
Thanks to Sky Sports, Alexa will tell you all the latest scores, give you updates of any major events or even just inform you when your team score or concede a goal. The sports experience can be tailor made for you, whatever your interest.
Alexa can help you figure out how bad your commute to work will be before you set off. Thanks to National Rail you can have Alexa tell you if your train is on time, if there’s any service disruption, or simply give you any timetable information you might need.
If you want to know about planes or ferries Alexa can help you there too.
She can also tell you how the roads are, which routes to avoid and give you an estimated time of arrival on your journey. Going to work has never been easier.
Control your schedule
Alexa can link up with your Google calendar and remind you when your meeting or dentist appointment is. You can have her tell you when it’s somebody’s birthday or your wedding anniversary so you never again have an excuse for not remembering.
These are just a handful of the Skills Alexa possesses. Most of the mentioned Skills have great practical use at least from a time saving perspective. There are absolutely loads more to choose from – thousands if the estimate is true – including things such as trivia quizzes to keep you entertained or hours.
Virtual personal assistants are gradually becoming the norm and they definitely have a lot of uses for managing time and helping perform tasks and Alexa is the cream of the crop among these. Watch out though because she’ll only become cleverer and eventually outsmart you!