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Best Alexa Skills you didn’t know you could use with your Echo smart speaker

Best Alexa Skills you didn’t know you could use with your Echo smart speaker
Nick Beer | Dreamstime.com Dreamstime.com

You love your Amazon Echo. You probably have a few around the house, including in your family room, the kitchen and your home office.

The voice-activated assistant is essentially a new, easy-to-use internet connection. But, instead of typing in a search, you say, "Alexa, what's the square root of 833?"

You ask Alexa to play your favorite music and you listen to podcasts on the smart speaker. You do a lot more than that, too, whether you're using it to have Uber come pick you up, open your garage door or make a phone call.

Bonus: How to pick the right Amazon Echo for you

As a Komando reader, you know that we've been keeping you up-to-date with Alexa's top skills. Alexa can do many things like search for addresses or turn up the thermostat.

We have given you the complete list of Amazon Alexa commands you didn’t know you could use. This is an invaluable list of Alexa features that you'll definitely need when you find yourself wondering, "What can Alexa do?"

We've also told you about the best Alexa commands to try with your new Echo. If you are still getting used to Alexa, this list will help! But as they say in those famous infomercials, "there's more!"

Now, we've got 10 great Alexa skills you're probably not using yet. Once you know about these, you'll be using them all the time! Before we get to them, do you know what a "skill" is? It's really just the commands that Alexa recognizes. Like "Alexa, turn on the bedroom light," or "Alexa, play Jeopardy." There's even a cool site that will let you publish Alexa skills without any coding! There are tens of thousands of skills available, but where do you start?

Here are 10 of the best Alexa skills:

1. Skill finder

Alexa has a lot of useful abilities, which are similar to apps on your smartphone. They perform useful tasks.

But you don't know which Alexa skills you'll like until you know they're there. Start by saying, "Alexa, open skill finder" to find out more about Alexa's many talents.

2. The bartender

Are you having a party or a cocktail after work? This Alexa skill is like having your own personal bartender on-call. You probably don't know a lot of cocktail recipes, so ask Alexa which ingredients go into the one you want to make. If you're feeling adventurous, just ask Alexa to surprise you, she'll come up with something you may have never heard of!

3. Order pizza

You need to enable Alexa's skills. This one will come in super handy, especially if you're a busy mom or dad with hungry kids at home.

Try saying this the next time they're screaming, "What's for dinner?" Say, "Alexa, open Domino's and place my easy order."

4. 7-minute workout

Who needs to get up early and go to the gym when you have Alexa as a personal trainer. Did you know that Alexa can keep you healthy in just 7 minutes a day? Just ask Alexa to open the 7-minute workout (get ready to sweat but talk to your doctor first).

5. Feels like?

Do weather reports confuse you like they confuse me? The weather report gives you the temperature outside and tells you if it's raining or snowing.

Then they confuse you by saying, "but it feels like 89 degrees." That "feels like" temperature factors in humidity and other conditions that can make it feel colder or hotter than the temperature.

To find out how you should dress, try this. Enable Alexa's feels like skill.

6. Uber

If you ever feel like you've already used every useful Alexa feature, you haven't. One go-to feature is having a ride-sharing car pick you up.

Just think about the last time you went to the airport. Were you running around the house, scrambling to pack? Did you forget anything?

If you forgot to ask someone for a ride, Alexa can help. Ask Alexa to have Uber pick you up.

7. Airfares

Planning your vacation has never been easier, with online services like Google Flights. But Alexa has radically transformed travel planning, too.

Start by using Kayak for airfares to the destination of your choice. Or ask where you can fly for your budget, whether it's $150 or $1,500.

8. Airport wait time

You know the saying "hurry up and wait"? That pretty much defines your airport experience. You hurry to get there on time and then wait in line for your boarding pass or to get through security. Alexa can keep your wait times shorter! Don't rush to the airport if you're just going to be standing in line for hours. Ask Alexa to enable Security Line, then ask how long the wait is at your airport.

9. Podcasts

If you love podcasts like Kim Komando's "Komando On Demand," "Tech News Today," "Consumer Tech Update" or "Tech News This Week," you know about Stitcher. It's a podcast platform that plays loads of popular podcasts - you can use Stitcher on Alexa.  It's so easy, just say:

"Alexa, launch Stitcher."
"Alexa, ask Stitcher to play the latest episode of  Komando on Demand."

Click here for more great ways to listen to Kim's podcasts.

10. Games and Stories

Alexa is useful but fun, too. You can play voice-controlled games or have her tell you a story. These skills are bound to keep you and your kids entertained for hours.

She even has interactive stories. Just say, "Alexa, open the magic door," and it will talk you through one of several stories. Alexa will describe the scene, and the story unfolds based on the choices you make. Stories include helping a princess find her crown or a gnome find a key. Alexa's the "Escape the Room" skill is just like the live version. You use Alexa to search through a virtual room to find clues on how to escape. There are four rooms with different difficulty levels you can choose. A really fun family game is Alexa's "Would You Rather." You pick between two silly situations. New questions are being added all the time.

With all that fun, Alexa has a serious side too.  Click here for the top 3 ways Alexa can help you save money!

Amazon Alexa is creeping people out

Alexa has so many useful skills. The voice-activated assistant can help you do research, find phone numbers, hear about traffic conditions outside and control your home thermostat.

That's just for starters. But did you know that Alexa has a disturbing personality quirk that's creeping out a lot of people?

Click here to find out more about Alexa's creepiest feature!

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