Thanks to the remarkable development of technology and, therefore, also of the services offered on the Internet, there are now several virtual assistants designed to make processes easier for people.
One of them is Amazon Alexa, which is basically a virtual assistant that is controlled by voice and is integrated into Amazon’s own devices.
Alexa emerged in 2014 through the Amazon Echo devices; a series of smart speakers.
In this sense, it should be noted that Amazon Alexa or simply Alexa, contains many features that are known as “Skills” and from this post, we tell you the benefits they bring, how they can be installed and which are the best.
What is Alexa and what is this voice assistant for?
As we indicated, Alexa is a virtual assistant that is voice-controlled and is integrated into all Amazon Echo devices.
This assistant, at first, was designed simply to help users in order to simplify searching for a specific product, make payments to Amazon & compare prices.
However, today, Amazon Alexa serves for much more than that.
Amazon’s Alexa assistant has grown disproportionately & because of that, today it can even answer questions unrelated to the products sold in the company.
For example, it has the ability to provide information on the state of traffic where you are and what the weather forecast is.
In addition to this, Alexa also provides options such as setting alarms, setting timers, controlling surveillance systems and managing other smart devices.
It even works perfectly to play audiobooks and manage music playlists, either from Amazon Music or other companies such as Spotify or Apple Music.
This is thanks to the partnerships Amazon has developed with other famous companies worldwide.
What are Alexa “skills” and why is it good to install them?
By default, Alexa contains a number of default functions that it offers to simplify certain actions for people making use of this voice assistant.
However, there is the possibility of adding new capabilities to it.
These are the famous “Alexa Skills”.
Skills refer to extra functionalities added by third parties that can be installed in the assistant.
This means that thanks to these Skills you will be able to get more functionality from it and thus, expand everything you manage with Alexa.
Taking into account that, fortunately, the market of Skills for Alexa is extensive.
For their part, Skills have been notably promoted among the developer community, with the sole purpose of spreading their creation.
Since this ensures further growth of Alexa and the ability to provide more services.
Therefore, many companies and businesses have been in charge of creating and promoting these tools.
Thus, each Skill is usually suited to a specific business model.
Like, for example, if a clothing store designs a Skill for Alexa, it will of course focus on facilitating the shopping process through voice and also highlighting offers.
- Skills can be used to install news feeds, games and many more functions ranging from cooking apps, to weather, educational, ambient sounds, etc.
- If you install any Skill you want via your mobile device, all the assistants on the devices assigned to your Amazon account will be able to use those extra features.
- You can create a connected home. That is, with certain voice commands, it will be possible to control the lighting, for example. You also have advantages when connecting the Alexa speaker to the TV, since, without using the remote control, it will allow you to turn the volume up or down.
- If you have a business of any category, you can design a Skill that simplifies the buying process for your customers and even help them to select the best option, compare prices and offers, etc. With this, you will obtain a greater loyalty and more income.
- They allow you to enhance the consumer experience and engage consumers in a very different way. Either by creating voice-based experiences or by complementing them with visual and tactile ones.
Steps to install a skill on your Alexa device from scratch quick and easy
Luckily, installing additional functionality on your Alexa device through the extensive Skills store it offers is very easy and fast.
However, before detailing the step-by-step to follow for this, it is important to highlight that you must download and install the “Amazon Alexa” app on your Android or iOS device, via Google Play Store and the App Store.
Now, open the app and enter “Skills and games”
After you’ve installed the Amazon Alexa app on your device, you will need to access it.
In case you do not have an Amazon account, you will have to create it from there and for this, you only need a name, email and password.
In addition, you’ll need to complete a verification process.
To perform the verification, you can either attach an Alexa device or just link your mobile, for which they will send you an SMS with a verification code.
Then, proceed to open the side menu.
In that menu, you have to click on the “Skills and games” selection which will take you directly to the section from which you can install these extra tools and also manage the ones you already have.
Search the Skills you want to install
From here you will see three sections in which you can locate the functionalities you want or need.
These sections are:
- Discover: to see the most popular ones
- Categories: to access to all the types of Skills based on their associated category
- My Skills: from where you can observe which ones you have installed.
But in case you want to find a Skill directly in the store, you can make use of the search engine at the top right and type its name there.
Activate the localized Skill
After browsing the app and finding the Skill you want, it’s time to proceed to install and activate it.
Of course, once you have seen what it says in its description and the examples of the voice commands you can proceed to use it.
To do so, you must click on the “Activate and Use” button located at the top of the profile.
Depending on the tool, you may be asked for certain permissions to access specific data and when you decide whether to enable or disable them, just click on the “Save Permissions” button to confirm.
Finally, look for the new enabled features
If you want to locate all the Skills and/or games that you have activated in the mobile application, simply go to the “My Skills” section at the top.
As you will see, they tell you which ones are activated, there is also a “Blueprint” section and even a button to keep discovering more and improve your experience with the voice assistant.
List of the best skills you can install on your Amazon voice assistant
Now, we have reached the most awaited section by all our readers, for sure.
Since it is very important to know what are the most optimal skills that can be installed in this voice assistant to have a better experience and undoubtedly simplify different activities that are carried out day after day.
So, here are some of the best Alexa features that you can activate:
Another one of the most valuable utilities, thanks to the fact that they allow you to request an Uber and your preferred type of trip with this company, very easily.
It offers you the facility to send the driver to your predefined pickup location, you can request a ride from different Uber accounts, cancel it if you want, etc.
Phone numbers of interest
In case of emergencies, this Skill is extremely useful.
It allows you to quickly consult the telephone numbers that you need in a crisis.
For example, Medical Emergencies, Police, Civil Guard, Fire Service and many others.
You can also activate the Skill of this famous fast food restaurant, to order whatever you want whenever you want.
To do so, you only have to link your Amazon account and keep your Burger King account updated.
With that, just say “Alexa, open Burger King” or “I’m in the mood for a Whopper” to place your order.
You can even track the delivery.
Trivial Pursuit Family
This is one of the best in the store, which is the traditional Trivial Pursuit and is fully adapted to your voice assistant.
That’s why, you can compete with as many friends as you want and if you’re lucky, be the first to answer questions from one of the six categories that exist there.
If you get lost at some point, just say “Alexa, help” or “Alexa, repeat.”
7 minute training
Exercise lovers, you can opt for this Amazon tool with which you will get specific instructions for each exercise and you can turn on and off the music while doing them.
Thus, it consists of 13 types of exercises that are 30 seconds long, to complete a total of 7 minutes of arduous training and improve muscle fitness.
Here you can find a wide variety of music and listen to your favorite songs or even enjoy streaming more than 53 million tracks of all genres.
This, just by saying “Alexa, play music with Deezer”; that is, you will sound the horns of your device without just moving a finger and the best thing is that it supports free activation.
Now, if you want to start building a smart home, with this Skill and Philips Hue devices you can do it easily.
It allows you to create scenes automatically in each room.
You can then control them by saying “Alexa, turn on the bedroom”, etc., or something like “Alexa, turn on the cinema lights in the living room”.
Another option to find countless home cooking recipes and the best thing is that it adds a search engine with which you can locate each dish by name or even, by ingredient.
That way, the voice assistant tells you the recipe step by step and through its ability to delay or advance the recipe, you can prepare everything at your own pace.
Chill Out Radio
If what you need is to listen to quiet music to set the mood in any space, this Alexa Skill is excellent for that.
It has a fairly large library to enjoy this style of music and relax wherever you want.
Its activation is completely free.
Drinks or cocktails
This application is based on guiding you in the preparation of all your favorite cocktails.
If you’re attracted to the world of bartending or want to be a professional bartender, this Skill will help you to learn it step by step; from the most classic drinks to the most modern and amazing ones.
Smile and Learn
For the little ones in the house, there are also several choices and one of the best is this application which is an educational entertainment platform where you can find a variety of children’s stories, specially made by educators.
It also includes more than 15 videos and podcasts with which children will relive fantastic and fun adventures.
Alexa vs Chromecast: Which is better and how do they differ?
Although, nowadays, there are several smart speakers in the world; the truth is that Chromecast or Google Assistant and Alexa or Amazon Echo are two of the most famous and widely used.
However, at the time of obtaining one of them, users do not know which one is the best in the market and for this reason, the need arises to make a brief comparison between the two, so that each person, depending on their requirements and preferences, opt for the most optimal for themselves.
The most relevant differences are as follows:
In the case of Amazon’s voice assistant, it features compatibility with more than 28,000 devices from around 4,500 different manufacturers.
This includes all kinds of gadgets (light bulbs, plugs, switches, speakers, etc.).
On the other hand, the Google Assistant, despite being one of the main virtual voice assistants on the market, only has around 10,000 compatible devices or devices that can be controlled by using it.
This means that the latter has a smaller number of compatible devices compared to Alexa.
Hence, Amazon Alexa takes the lead in this aspect.
The actions that offer
Thanks to the remarkable number of Alexa Skills in the store today and the different types they host, it can be stated that the actions to be performed with Alexa are multiple, by default.
On the other hand, with respect to Google actions, they are much more limited for users.
If we look at this aspect of Alexa, we basically note that it only contains a control panel with which other devices can be managed.
However, Google’s Assistant is the most cross-platform assistant of all, especially because it has a native application that includes all its functionalities for both Android and iOS.
Ability to answer complex questions
Although Alexa exhibits a lot of competence when it comes to answering certain questions and even performing basic tasks at home, the truth is that it is not considered the most intelligent voice assistant of all.
Google Assitant is much more advanced and even when you ask it complex questions, it will manage to understand them and thus, it guarantees you ample assistance.