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Ten things you didn't know Amazon Alexa could do

By Julio Franco
Aug 15, 2016
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  1. Amazon's digital assistant can tell you the weather in space, deliver cheesy pickup lines, and help you make a better margarita.

    Is there anything Amazon's Alexa can't do?

    Okay, so the home assistant still struggles with things like string commands and the ability to distinguish between user voices. But everyone knows that the voice-controlled assistant — most notably found on the Amazon Echo, but also on the Dot and Tap — does excel at useful jobs like playing music, making grocery lists, and giving weather forecasts.

    But if that's all you're using these gadgets for, you're missing out. We browsed the app's extensive Skills section to find 10 of the most useful, interesting, and fun things you didn't know Alexa could do. (Note: You'll have to be logged in and search the Skills section in order to find the apps mentioned below.)

    Plan a Smarter Commute

    Enable apps like BART Control, Toronto Transit, Times for MARTA, and many more to keep track of your local public transportation system. Don't feel like braving the crowds today? You can also use Alexa to call a Lyft or Uber.

    Take a Bite of Bitcoin

    The Skills tab is full of Bitcoin tracking apps, with CryptoCurrency and Bitcoin Price being two of the highest rated. If you're invested in tracking the volatile price of this digital currency, you might as well let Alexa do the legwork.

    Mix It Up

    With bartending apps like Patrón Tequila, Happy Hour, and Mixologist, you can expand your cocktail knowledge and impress people at parties. Or just learn how to make a mean margarita.

    Roll the Dice (Digitally)

    You can stop shaming your dice, as apps like Dungeon Dice, Adjudicator DiceBot, and Dice Bag now do the rolling for you. Little more than random number generators, these easy-to-use Alexa skills are ideal for tabletop gamers.

    Out-of-This-World Weather Updates

    Everyone knows that Alexa has tons of awesome weather apps for Earth, but that's boring. Use skills like Space Weather and Martian Weather to track storms happening outside our atmosphere. This isn't just cool info, by the way: Space weather can impact us in lots of ways, like interrupting radio and satellite communications.

    Get Informed

    Who has time to read the headlines when they're busy browsing DealNews for bargains all day? No one, that's who. Luckily, you can enable a flash briefing on Alexa. News outlets sampled include NPR, BBC, USA Today, Techcrunch, Associated Press, and many more.

    Throw Me a Line

    If you're looking for a laugh, both the Pickup Lines and Nerdy Pickup Lines skills come highly recommended by users. Less recommended: actually trying out the lines.

    Just the Facts

    A search of the keyword "fact" brings up an astounding 349 results on the Alexa Skills tab. Learn something new every day with tons of trivia games, quote generators, and general fact repositories. You never know when a random piece of minutiae will come in handy!

    Amazon Echo

    Work (Out) Smarter, Not Harder

    Whether you're trying to lose weight or just stay healthy, there's a wide range of Alexa skills that are focused on fitness. Quickly go from flab to fab with 7-Minute Workout, change up your flow with Yoga Trainer or ALOP-Pilates-Class-Skill, or track your general progress with Fitbit.

    Bring It All Together

    Possibly the biggest benefit to Alexa is its ability to pair with IFTTT, a service that links apps and devices with specific actions. For example, this recipe will adjust your Nest thermostat to 71 degrees when you tell Alexa you're cold.

    Marcy Bonebright is a contributing writer at dealnews. Republished with permission.

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  2. BSim500

    BSim500 TS Guru Posts: 198   +272

    I've always viewed these things as a tablet minus the screen but with far worse privacy concerns (microphone sensitive enough to pick up the entire room's conversation always on 24/7). Nearly all these "features" are nothing more than an endless stream of "wrappers" for ordinary web searches : "pick-up lines", "facts", "fitness tips", "Bitcoin price", "cocktail recipes", etc.
     
    wastedkill and Reehahs like this.
  3. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 1,669   +777

    Article reads more like a sales campaign than a technical analysis .....
     
    EndlessWaves and wastedkill like this.
  4. Kibaruk

    Kibaruk TechSpot Paladin Posts: 2,508   +501

    In all fairness, the quoted site is called "dealnews" after all.
     
  5. Cycloid Torus

    Cycloid Torus TS Evangelist Posts: 1,657   +309

    ...just went to confirm that it is not an important use of bandwidth.
     
  6. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 11,695   +1,882

    Very little which is truly important, uses much bandwidth anyway.

    For example, Netflix, internet porn, and Bitcoin mining chew through gigabytes of bandwidth, and it more or less depends on who you ask, if those things matter.

    I was just musing that Amazon could make a killing if it paired Alexa with a blow up sex doll. Then I was quickly jolted back to reality when I realized, nobody in their right mind, would need yet another woman who knows it all.
     
    wastedkill likes this.
  7. Jack Meoffski

    Jack Meoffski TS Booster Posts: 49   +35

    Its a fancy spy bot...No thanks!
     
    BSim500 likes this.

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