Apple launched the first Intelligent Personal Assistant “SIRI” giving the iPhones a completely new boom in the mobile market and making it more than “JUST A MOBILE HANDSET”. Hence, the love for iPhone increased many folds and “SIRI” became the star in the mobile world.
This launch was taken as a challenge by all the big and small IT Companies. Evident from the launch of “CORTANA” on Windows 10 and the launch of “ALLO” by Google.
Seems like some race, everyone proving themselves to be better than the others. Recently one more IT giant has joined in this race and that is AMAZON with its intelligent personal assistant “ALEXA”.
Alexa has been made popular by the smart Bluetooth speaker of Amazon, Amazon Echo. Now they are used interchangeably to refer to one of the same things. This addition of Alexa app in the Amazon devices like Echo, Amazon Tap and Amazon Echo Dot 2nd generation with a bit of varying functionality supports of Alexa in them, has made them more than just being the Smart Speaker.
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Alexa basically is the voice service that powers Echo, provides capabilities, or skills, that enable customers to interact with devices in a more intuitive way using voice. It is capable of voice interaction, music playback, making to-do lists, setting alarms, streaming podcasts, playing audiobooks, and providing weather, traffic and some real time updates. Alexa has a very rich and vivid skill set. And in this blog I am going to list some of these skills or you can even call it as features that it adds to the simple Bluetooth speaker device.
List of some Unique Features of Alexa
- Exclusive Deals, Ordering and Tracking –
Having Alexa and being an Amazon Prime Member could work wonders for you. As Alexa can give you updates about the exclusive deals and offers that are present on the Amazon App for the prime members. Not just that Alexa can also help you in placing and tracking the order on the Amazon App.
- Book a Ride –
Alexa also has the skill to order the Uber cab or Lyft. You can set up the account and have the payment options saved. All you have to then is just say: “Alexa, ask Uber to request a ride”.
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- Personal Trainer at your Service –
Alexa has a skill named as 7-minute-workout skill, the most useful skill it has. Alexa can keep you on marks to get you and maintain you in proper shape. Just say “Alexa start 7-minute-workout” it would get the best tested exercises that could pump up your metabolism and remove fat.
- Perfect Wine to match your dinner –
Alexa fulfils this feature in coordination with the MySomm. MySomm makes Alexa your personal sommelier which gives you hundreds of recommendations on what goes with which food from bacon to goat cheese. Activate it by saying: “Alexa, ask Wine gal to go with pesto pizza.”
- Connect to the other Smart devices –
The basic aim for Echo was to unite all the smart home devices through a single device. Echo has integrated smart home products like Nest, Ecobee, Lutron, WeMo, Philips Hue, LIFX and many more such smart devices.
All these smart home products are now grouped together under a single skill tab “Smart Home Skills”. It made the management of the devices easier and gives you the functionality to see the user reviews.
- Holiday Planning –
For the holiday planning all you need is a Kayak Account. And Alexa will help you plan your vacation, check prices for flights and track the flights. It even gives you an option to tell Alexa your budget and it will guide and suggest you places according to that.
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- Weather / News / Sports Updates –
The best feature as per me is the Real time updates related Weather, local news, sports and many more such things. Alexa app can let you enable a variety of news channels and you can ask Alexa to deliver the news in the morning meanwhile you can finish with your morning chores.
So, is for the sports, you can ask Alexa to update you about the latest scores of the matches.
- Google Calendar –
You can link your Google Calendar, and Alexa can add or say your events, schedule, forthcoming plans, and more. It increases the usefulness of Echo as an essential business tool.
- To-do and Shopping Lists –
Remembering the list of items to be bought has always been a tedious job. Everyone tends to miss one or two of the items. Alexa lets you maintain and add new items to the list via your voice. It even helps you in maintain the list of tasks that you have to accomplish in the day. Echo also reads out the list for you.
- Bing Search Engine –
The whole motive of designing the Amazon Echo with Alexa app was to add the Siri like capabilities to it. Like Siri, Alexa is also programmed to answer some questions from Wikipedia entries, quick math calculations, conversions, measurements, spelling corrections, and many other questions.
- Hands free Messaging –
Setting up the skill of hands free messaging consists of a couple of steps. This skill is referred to as MollySkill. Firstly you would have to register at smswithmolly.com and then enable the feature in the Alexa. It also gives you the option of uploading your favorite contacts with unique names. And ask Alexa to send the message you want to and to the person you want to send that.
- Multiple Alarms and Timer –
The first skills that Alexa was enabled with were the timers and alarms which are now developed further to multiple alarms/timers, customized alarm sets and repeating alarms. It gives you the freedom to set different alarms for every different day.
- Order Pizza or Get help with the recipes –
Alexa can make the pizza ordering easy, all you have to do is setup an Easy order and enable the Domino’s Pizza Skill. And just ask the Alexa to place an order of pizza for you. Alexa also has the feature of Pizza Hut Skill in its skill set. It even gives you the order track updates.
Alexa also helps you develop your cooking skills through its All Recipes Skill. Campbell’s Kitchen Skill help you decide what to have for dinner as it suggests 5 new options every day.
- Play Music –
Echo was manufactured to work as a Bluetooth Speaker at the first place. Hence, how can Alexa not include the skill of playing the music! It offers lots of options for every song lover – premium and free users.
This list is yet incomplete. Alexa now has over 10,000 skills. To understand and use all those skills would need more than year. I would surely tell you about more such interesting skills in the next blog. But would also suggest you to go on the personal exploration mission too of the Echo and let me know the skills that I have missed on.