This is a very high profile time for Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) and its Alexa smart assistant/Echo smart speaker combination. The latest new Amazon Echo — the Echo Show — has just been announced. Plus, Alexa voice calling just launched.
This comes just weeks after the Echo Look was unveiled. Alphabet Inc’s (NASDAQ:GOOGL, NASDAQ:GOOG) Google and Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) are now in the smart speaker game, and Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is expected to take the wraps off a Siri speaker as soon as June.
With this flurry of activity, it’s worth looking at the Amazon Echo’s biggest advantage: the thousands of Alexa skills. These capabilities let AMZN and third-party developers add functionality to the Amazon Echo and other Alexa-enabled smart speakers. There are currently more than 10,000 Alexa skills, and here are 10 of the coolest.
The Smart Home
AMZN currently lists nearly 400 Alexa smart home skills. One of the most popular lets your Amazon Echo control Google’s Nest smart thermostat with voice commands. You can also use Alexa to control the popular Hue smart lighting system.
You can tell your Amazon Echo to turn lights on or off in specific rooms, change the color and even adjust brightness, all without picking up a smartphone, touching a switch or launching an app.
Thanks to Alexa, AMZN can make interacting with your social media feeds a hands-free task. You can’t view Instagram photos (although that will undoubtedly come when the Echo Show hits shelves), but Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) and the rest are represented through third-party Alexa skills.
You can use Twitter Reader to have your Amazon Echo read out loud key information including Twitter Likes, Retweets, Mentions and Trending Tweets. Want to get the latest words of wisdom from President Trump? Ask your Echo to check POTUS Tweets.
Find Phone is one of those skills that everyone can use. It solves the issue of misplacing your smartphone in the couch cushions by having your Amazon Echo call the phone to activate its ringer. Having trouble sleeping? Skills like Ambient Noise: Rainforest Sounds will play soothing tracks in the background to drown out all the noise and help you nod off.
Naturally, you can order grocery products from amazon.com using an Amazon Echo smart speaker. But a growing number of food companies and restaurants including Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ:SBUX) and Domino’s Pizza, Inc (NYSE:DPZ) are onboard with their own official Alexa skills.
With Starbucks Reorder, you can ask an Echo to check the balance on your Starbucks card. As the name implies, you can also re-order one of previous five orders from Starbucks to get things started before heading out to do a coffee pickup.
If pizza’s more your thing, the Domino’s Pizza Alexa skill lets you order your favorite with a quick voice command, and you can even have your Echo announce the order status so you know exactly when you need to get the cash ready for the delivery.
Amazon Restaurants is developed in-house by AMZN and lets Prime members order from supported restaurants. The Echo will even suggest meals based on your previous orders.
Amazon’s Alexa is also integrating with another increasingly high-tech industry — automobiles. MyFord Mobile lets you remotely start plug-in vehicles from Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F). You can lock or unlock the car, start or stop charging, plus additional capabilities like checking the tire pressure and the odometer, all without getting out of your chair.
There are literally thousands of other Alexa skills. You can use them to enable an Amazon Echo to keep you updated on current news, improve your vocabulary, provide a recipe for the latest trendy drink, check the price of Amazon stock or play a Seinfeld trivia game.
With the latest generation of Amazon Echo devices sprouting cameras and a touchscreen, the number of skills will continue growing at an explosive pace.
As of this writing, Brad Moon did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.