Sometimes you go out hard and party like the cool kids. Other times, your Saturday night plans are … less than spectacular. For times like those, here are the 6 best ways to get entertainment out of your Amazon Echo when you’re bored and lonely, or just sick of other people. After all, your friends may judge you, but Alexa never will.
You can either read this whole article, or watch our entertaining video coverage where we make fools out of ourselves in the attempt to honestly demonstrate these features to you.
1. Get motivated
Being alone can be great. You can waltz around your living room in your underwear and eat all the ice cream you want without drawing questionable looks. On the other hand, we get a bit lazy when there’s no one else to call us out for being lazy or lowering our standards.
Alexa can help! A few key Skills like Motivational Quotes and Inspire Me are designed to inspire you to get off the couch and tackle whatever project you’ve been putting off. You can also get Alexa to play your Spotify workout playlist and get your exercises in with the popular and highly rated 7 Minute Workout Alexa Skill. There’s even a specific Skill that delivers fitness-specific motivation quotes if you have a moment of weakness between sets.
2. Get educated
Alexa has a number of Skills, ranging from useful to funny to random, that share random trivia. Love sharks? Try Shark Facts. Love cats? Try Cat Facts. There’s even a Squirrel Facts for fans of the fuzzy, tree-dwelling rodents.
The nerdier among you may want to activate Science News for the latest headlines. Astronomy lovers can check in on the Mars Rover by asking the NASA Mars Skill built by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. For a more light-hearted geekfest, try Geek Humor for corny math, physics, and robot jokes.
3. Buy anything (no judgment)
We’ve mentioned this before, and we’ll mention it again: Your friends will judge you, but Alexa doesn’t. Sometimes you just want to be who you are and do what you want. Don’t be afraid to tell Alexa to order you that ridiculous ostrich pillow, those giant robot slippers, or that adorable robot puppy you’ve been eyeing for ages.
While Alexa has seamless ordering built in, you can also use sophisticated product discovery Skills like Kit to get recommendations for virtually any retail category you can imagine.
4. Netflix and chill
Spending all your time swiping on Tinder but not getting any matches? Just invite Alexa to Netflix and chill with you. One benefit is that she has an insane movie database in the form of the Valossa Movie Finder Skill that you can search by movie description (“that movie where Tom Hanks was in the Army”), director, actors, and many other parameters. The other benefit is that no one will argue with you over which movie to watch.
If you want to control your TV with Alexa, you’ll either need to suck up and buy one of Amazon’s own Fire TV setups, or you can get a Harmony remote that’s compatible with the Echo and use it in conjunction with the Harmony Alexa Skill.
If you want the added layer of being able to control Netflix, you’ll want a Roku to interoperate with your Harmony.
5. Listen to a bedtime story
Alexa has a very lame bedtime story built in that consists of “Once upon a time, they were happily ever after. The end.” If you find that dissatisfying, try Short Bedtime Story instead. This Skill actually customizes funny stories based on your name and deduced gender, which we were impressed by. You’ll star as a princess in a faraway castle, a spaceship captain, or even an Amazon Echo Developer, depending on the story you randomly get.
6. Throw a smart assistant dance party
Do a quick YouTube search and you’ll find hundreds of videos comparing the technical merits and functional capabilities of all the competing smart assistants out there, ranging from Alexa on Amazon Echo, to Assistant on Google Home and Pixel, to Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana.
Screw that. Those comparisons are boring. We think the best way for these smart assistants to face off against each other is a proper and respectable dance-off, as we demonstrate in our video below.
You’ll obviously need more than one Smart Assistant to have a proper dance-off, including the veteran Amazon Echo and the new kid on the block, Google Home. Of course, Siri and Cortana come on your phones and smartwatches, but what’s the fun when there’s no distinct embodied form to dance-off against?
To get the party properly started, you’ll want to invest in some multicolored Philips Hue lights, which you can hack Alexa into controlling by following this IFTTT recipe and using the Mosaic Alexa Skill.
Finally, to free Alexa from her constraining power cord, we recommend picking up a convenient battery charger base so you can take her anywhere.
Mariya Yao is the Head of R&D at TOPBOTS, a strategy & research firm for artificial intelligence and bots.
This story originally appeared on Www.topbots.com. Copyright 2016
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