We have put together a carefully chosen selection of five Alexa skills worth trying from new, trending, and otherwise noteworthy voice apps available in the Alexa Skills Store, which now has more than 20,000 skills.
In case you missed it, Alexa Routines for the creation of scheduled tasks or custom commands launched for the first time in the United States last week and is launching in the United Kingdom and Germany this week.
Experian launched an Alexa skill Monday that allows you to check your FICO credit report score with your voice, but it’s not easy, or free.
To check your score, you need to have a paid monthly subscription to an Experian account and generate a pin that only lasts five minutes per use. On top of all that, some people may be hesitant to share this credit score with family, neighbors, or a significant other, so receiving the info from a smart speaker may not be ideal from a privacy standpoint.
Until this becomes free and Experian reduces the friction involved, it seems like it isn’t much of an improvement over a web or mobile app that could also get your credit score.
Amazon Storytime plays a collection of stories, including some narrated by Aidy Bryant from Saturday Night Live and by Tom Kenny, the voice of SpongeBob. When you stop and come back, Alexa will ask if you want to resume your previous story.
First launched earlier this fall, Storytime has become one of the most popular Alexa skills available today and represents part of a larger strategy by Amazon to hook young users and make more games available to Alexa users of all ages.
For Alexa skills not made by Amazon, $250,000 in prize money has been made available to third-party developers, so expect to see more in this category in the future.
Last month, every basketball team in the National Basketball Association (NBA) got their own Alexa skill. Each skill provides things like team schedule, live score, team standings, and statistics about team players.
Ask for news, and Alexa may read you the latest article from the team’s NBA website. The skill says it’s made by the NBA so that’s not really surprising, but it’s probably not the news source the typical fan seeks out when looking for the latest about their favorite team.
Should skills become incorporated into Routines or notifications from your favorite team made possible, Alexa could play a more proactive role in telling you how your favorite teams are doing.
Sadly, this one doesn’t launch as a visual skill, the new form of Alexa app made available to developers this summer that can incorporate things like visual cards or video. If you’re a sports fan, you probably want the sort of highlight video and near-live progress reports delivered by, say, the Warriors Messenger bot.
To find a skill for your favorite NBA team, just search their name on the Alexa app or Alexa Skills Store.
Oprah’s Favorite Things
Technically, this isn’t a skill, but if you say, “Alexa, shop Oprah’s favorite things,” Oprah Winfrey will talk to you about her list of more than 100 favorite things — from a Greenberg smoked turkey to truffle salt to a 23andMe DNA test.
At the end of each segment, Alexa will ask if you want to buy the item. Say yes, and Alexa will thank you and tell you when the package will be delivered. Say no, and Oprah will tell you about the next item on her list.
This is, of course, a holiday promotional campaign (and one of Oprah’s favorite things is an Echo Show, naturally), but it’s also an indication of just how quickly a transaction can take place on Alexa.
The Oprah Magazine Alexa skill launched in April and is the first from Hearst Corporation magazines.
Pretty basic stuff, but the Night Light skill turns the glowing rings around an Echo to pulsating shades of blue and green anytime you say “Alexa open Night Light.” Depending on where you place an Echo, this can be helpful for times when other sources of light would feel obtrusive.