You may be wondering, "How did I get by without Amazon's Echo?" That's understandable since the smart speaker does so many fun and useful things around the house.
You might use it to listen to your favorite radio station or podcast. You probably use Alexa to make phone calls, have Uber pick you up and turn down the temperature in your house.
Your children or grand kids might use Alexa for help with homework. "Alexa, who is Winston Churchill?"
But did you know that you're not using most of Alexa's best, most useful skills? The fact is, Alexa can help your family do many more tasks than you can imagine.
Keep reading for 17 Alexa tricks that you'll use every day. Don't skip No. 11 - you'll be shocked!
Did you know that you can ask Alexa how to say basic phrases in Spanish? This may come in handy the next time you're planning your summer vacation or calling colleagues in Mexico or Spain.
2. Play a song based on lyrics
One of the most frustrating things about smart speakers is that you'll get stuck if you do not know the names of songs that you like. If you grew up in the CD generation, for example, you probably know songs by their numbers.
You'd put your favorite CD in the your CD player and select the song number that you liked. But almost no one listens to music that way anymore.
So, what to do? Tell Alexa some of the lyrics from the song you like and you might be surprised that Alexa finds it!
It's easier to plan your day when you know how far you'll be traveling. You can get a much better sense of whether you can squeeze in a Costco run in between meetings with clients and picking up your grand kids.
Alexa can help. Just ask Alexa how far Costco is from your house and you might hear something like, "Costco is 1.3 miles from here."
4. Wind chill
Somehow, the weather outside never feels quite like it should. If it's 70 degrees outside but it's humid, it might feel like 90 degrees.
The same is true with wind chill. If it's 50 degrees outside but blustery, it can feel like 30 degrees.
If you want to know how the temperature is going to feel outside, ask Alexa, "What's the wind chill?"
Of course, sometimes you just want to get a full overview of the weather. Is is cold outside? Is it going to rain?
Alexa can help with an in-depth weather forecast. Heck, you shouldn't walk out the door without first asking Alexa.
6. Dollars and cents
If you're like most people, math wasn't your favorite subject in school. Fortunately, these days, calculators on your smartphone do the heavy lifting when you need to figure out restaurant tips and most math problems.
Now, it's even easier with the voice-activated Amazon Echo. Ask Alexa to work out math problems for you.
"Alexa, how much is $725 minus $48.34." "The difference between $725 and $48 U.S. dollars and 34 cents is $676.66." Amazing!
7. Drive time
Alexa is truly amazing. So is technology!
Ask how long it'll take you to get from home to your office and Alexa will tell you. This isn't just an approximation, either, it takes traffic conditions into account.
8. Store hours
Remember the days when you'd open your computer and type a store name into Google to get its phone number? You'd call for store hours.
That's so ancient! Now, you can just ask Alexa the time that Home Depot, Walmart and other stores open and close.
9. Sunrise and sunset
You never seem to know when the sun is going to set. None of us do.
When you want to relax by watching the sun rise or set, you invariably miss it. Ask Alexa for the exact time so that doesn't happen again.
If you're like most people, you still have an old-fashioned alarm clock on your nightstand. It's loud and it usually wakes you up.
Of course, you have your cellphone alarm set as a backup. Plus, you may need a little more help getting out of bed.
You can easily set an alarm time on Alexa. Heck, do you really need an alarm clock and smartphone alarm anymore?
11. Flatter me
Alexa can help you if you need an emotional pick-me-up. "Alexa, flatter me."
The Flatter Me skill will search for a new compliment and it may be exactly what you need to hear. "The people you love are lucky to have you in their lives."
12. Meal ideas
You're not alone if you've run out of ideas for dinner. You've cooked the same meals over and over for so many years that your family knows exactly what to expect.
Well, surprise them and yourself. Alexa can give you a recipe based on up to three ingredients that you have in the fridge and pantry.
13. Best recipes
You can also ask Alexa for recipes. If you're thinking about making lasagna, for example, that may sound daunting.
But not after seeking Alexa's help. You'll know which ingredients to shop for, and how long it'll take you to prep and cook the meal.
14. Wine pairing
Of course, if you're cooking a nice meal, you'll want to pair it with wine. None of us really know which wine goes with which food.
Good news! Alexa's Wine Pairing skill can give you a detailed explanation of which wines to choose for the food you're eating.
15. Bitcoin value
You've heard a lot about Bitcoin. It's the cryptocurrency whose value has soared the past few months.
If you'd like to know how much Bitcoin is worth in dollars, ask Alexa. Today, one Bitcoin is worth $8,110.
16. Opening bell
Do you follow the stock market? The skill Opening Bell gives you stock prices for companies that you follow. You can say "Alexa ask Opening Bell for the price of Amazon". Click here to enable Opening Bell skill on Amazon
The best thing about it is you can speak a company's name to get their stock price and daily percentage change. So you don't have to worry about memorizing a company's ticker symbol.
17. Skill finder
You may have heard that Alexa has more than 15,000 skills. So, it can be difficult to keep track of them all.
Amazon has you covered. Say, "Alexa, new skills" and Alexa will tell you about three new ones.
8 cool new things your Google Home can do that will make Alexa jealous
You love Amazon's Echo to listen to music, radio stations and podcasts. You might use it to make phone calls, open your garage door and turn down the heat.
But did you know that Google has a smart speaker, too? Google Home has a few features that Echo can't do.