Skip to main content

The 30 best Alexa skills in 2020

Best Alexa skills
(Image credit: Amazon)

The best Alexa skills will help you make the most out of Amazon's personal voice assistant, which comes installed in Amazon Echo smart speakers and the best Alexa speakers, as well as a number of other smart home devices. 

Amazon has added plenty of features to Alexa, but the real key to making the smart assistant fit your needs is through Alexa skills. Currently, there are more than 100,000 Alexa skills available, which let you control the best smart home devices, order pizza, play trivia games, listen to the news and weather, shop online and even start your car. 

After combing through hundreds of offerings from different brands and developers, here is a comprehensive list of the best Alexa skills that will help you get the most out of Amazon's assistant. Plus some of the most recent additions to the skills library, like Daily Music Pick.

Check out our guide on how to use Alexa for more tips and tricks.

What are the best Alexa skills?

It’s difficult to rank the best Alexa skills because everyone’s needs and routines are unique to them. However, certain ones stand out if we think they’re useful to a majority of Alexa users. Right now, while many people are stuck at home, our favorite skill is Send a Hug. It's an easy way to let those you love know you're thinking about them, even when you can't see them in person.

Another one of the best Alexa skills right now is Alexa Donations. You can ask Alexa to donate funds to non-profit organizations like the Children’s Miracle Network, Doctors Without Borders, Feeding America or any other charity that matters to you. Giving back has never been easier.

You can also ask Alexa for exclusive Amazon deals with the Alexa Voice Shopping skill. Once you’ve scored great discounts, you can use the skill to get delivery updates, or even reorder items as needed. This is much easier than logging in to your account to manage your online purchases.

Some of the best Alexa skills can help you in health emergencies, too. Although Alexa can’t call 911, you can use the Ask My Buddy skill to send notifications to an ‘in case of emergency’ contact when you’re in need of help. Similarly, you can use the MyPetDoc skill to get support for your furry friends who aren’t feeling well. Alexa can provide advice and point you towards a nearby veterinarian should your cat or dog require an in-person visit.

Our favorite smart home-related Alexa skills right now are iRobot Home and Hue. iRobot lets you control a compatible robot with your voice, while Hue offers hands-free adjustments to your Philips Hue smart lights. If any of your smart home devices offer Alexa or Alexa compatibility, you’ll be able to control them with the Alexa app or with your voice.

best Alexa skills

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

1. Send a hug

Missing your loved ones while stuck at home? Let your friends and family know in seconds that you're thinking of them by sending a hug through Alexa. Just say, “Alexa, send a hug” to deliver a virtual hug with any of your Alexa contacts. 

It's important to stay in touch with people you care about. Our Echo Show 8 review describes how heartwarming it is to conduct video chats, but do you know how to make a voice or video call using Alexa? You can call someone using your Echo, Echo Dot or Echo Show, whenever you want to catch up.

2. Get exclusive Amazon deals

If you ask "Alexa, what are your deals?" you'll hear a series of Amazon Prime member-exclusive deals that you need an Alexa-enabled device to take advantage of. Once you've carried out a purchase, you can ask Alexa for updates on your delivery status, as well as place a reorder. Visit Amazon's Voice Shopping page to get the sentences you'll need to say to trigger one of the best Alexa skills available to use now.

3. Get a weather report

While Alexa has built-in support for forecasts, Big Sky is among the best Alexa skills for giving you accurate, up-to-the-minute weather information. That's because it provides hyper-local forecasts based on your street address. The service uses information from Dark Sky, and can provide data such as wind speed and humidity. 

4. Change the subject

Alexa has several family skills, but none as utterly clever as this one designed to eschew impending arguments. All you need to say is, "Alexa, change the subject," and the voice assistant will provide a reprieve from whatever political or other disagreement is dampening spirits. When we tried the skill out in the Tom's Guide office, Alexa suggested my colleagues and I discuss the latest book we've read and tell our favorite dad jokes. 

5. Talk to Alexa in different languages

Not every household speaks the same language. If you happen to live somewhere where members of the family are fluent in more than just one language, Alexa has a mode built just for you. Multilingual Mode is one of the best Alexa skills because it lets you talk in two different languages, and Alexa will understand either dialect. The service is available in the U.S. (with support for English and Spanish), India (where it will support Indian English and Hindi) and Canada (where Alexa will understand both English and Canadian French).

6. Make a donation

Through Alexa, you can donate to a charity or organization. Just say "Alexa, donate $20 to the American Cancer Society," or even more simply, "Alexa, make a donation," and then you will be prompted to choose an organization and a dollar amount. Currently, there are over 270 charities with which this feature works, including the American Heart Association, ASPCA, Doctors Without Borders, One Laptop Per Child, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, and the Wikimedia Foundation. Here is a complete list of organizations that accept voice donations via Alexa.

Best Alexa Skills: Talk to your pet

(Image credit: Nenetus/Shutterstock.com)

7. Get help for your pet

If your pet is sick or acting strangely, MyPetDoc is the among the best Alexa skills to help you diagnose what's wrong. Describe Fido's symptoms, and Alexa will ask follow-up questions and provide advice. If Alexa doesn't know what's wrong, it will forward your conversation and phone number to a veterinarian, who will give you a call within a few minutes. (Just remember that while Alexa can give you some guidance, it's not a substitute for an official vet visit).

 8. Daily Music Pick

Amazon Music has introduced Daily Music Pick, a new feature in which artists provide customers with daily music recommendations. Just say “Alexa, play the Daily Music Pick” and each day a new artist will select a song, album, or playlist that they’ve been enjoying at home. 

Artists featured on the skill have included Latin superstar Bad Bunny, Pete Wentz, Kelsea Ballerini, Brendan Benson, and more.

9. Get recipe ideas

It's hard to pick just one of the best Alexa skills for cooking, as there are so many that serve different needs. Some of our favorite skills include Easy Meal Ideas for quick-and-easy recipe recommendations,  America's Test Kitchen Daily Cooking Q&A, from the editors of Cook's Illustrated, which posts new recipes, tips and techniques in its weekly Q&A. Morton's Salting Sous Chef can tell you exactly how to salt everything you're cooking, and delivers general salting tips as well. If you have an Echo Show 8 or Echo Show, just say "Alexa, show me recipes" and select your favorite, and Alexa will walk you through the steps.

best Alexa skills

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

10. Listen to audiobooks

If you enjoy reading, you might also like audiobooks, since they let you to 'read' a book while doing other things. Of all the best Alexa skills for audiobooks, Audible is the top pick.  Audible, a mobile audiobook service, lets you play your current read through your Alexa speaker and control it with your voice. Alternatively, you can listen to certain Amazon Kindle books through an Alexa speaker, even if you don't have one of the best Kindles

11. Call another Alexa-enabled device

Amazon allows you to make voice or video calls to and from other Alexa-enabled devices, such as the Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Show, and the Alexa app on your smartphone. Alexa looks through your phone's address book to find contacts who have the Alexa app or an Echo device, and then gives you the option of calling them. Here's how to use Alexa's Drop-in for more information.

best Alexa skills

(Image credit: Future)

12. Play music

You can stream music using Alexa from a variety of services (Spotify, Amazon Music, Apple Music, Sirius XM, iHeartRadio, Deezer, Tidal, Gimme, TuneIn, Pandora, Pandora Premium and Vevo), and within each, up- or down-vote songs and play selected playlists. With Amazon's music library, you can also launch playlists based on specific activities, eras, artists, even your mood. You can also combine categories, such as "80s music for running," or, if you're feeling frisky, you can even ask Alexa to play hook-up music. Did you know you can also get Amazon Music free on your Echo

12. Use Alexa as a personal trainer

Alexa can whip your behind into shape with the 7-minute-workout skill. If you say, "Alexa, start 7-minute workout," the virtual assistant will suggest reportedly tested exercises that will increase your metabolism, improve your energy and remove fat. The best part: You can take breaks when you need them. These are the best Alexa skills for health and fitness.

Some of the best fitness trackers also have Alexa built in. As noted in our Wyze Band review and Fitbit Versa 2 review, Alexa can act like your workout coach from your wrist.

Best Alexa skills: Check your credit card balance

(Image credit: fizkes/Shutterstock)

13. Check your credit card balance

American Express-card holders can manage their accounts with the Amex Alexa skill. Saying "Alexa, open Amex," will allow you to connect your account. Then, you can check your account balance, make a payment, review charges, check your available credit and more. This is one of the best Alexa skills for keeping your finances in order.

14. Find your favorite restaurants

Looking for a place to eat? Alexa has all the information you could need about the businesses around you. Just ask "Alexa, what time does Taco Bell open?" or "Alexa, what's the address of Wendy's?" It can tell you a restaurant's hours, location, phone number, address, and more.

best Alexa skills

best Alexa skills (Image credit: Future)

15. Clean your apartment

Some of the best Alexa skills are those that let you automate tedious chores. A number of the best robot vacuums, including the Shark Ion R85 and the Roomba i7+ can be commanded to start and stop cleaning using Alexa. Vacuuming has never been this hands-off!

16. Play games

Alexa can also supply the fun. There are a ton of different trivia-related skills, but some of the best Alexa skills when it comes to games are Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock20 questions; bingo; Jeopardy; tic-tac-toe. More are cropping up all the time so check out the Games, Trivia & Accessories section of the Alexa app to find the game you want to play.

17. Schedule a meeting

Provided you have access to their calendars, you can schedule meetings with your contacts using Alexa. Amazon's assistant will suggest meeting times based on both of your schedules. If a conflict arises after you've scheduled a meeting, you can ask Alexa to move the appointment to a different time. Supported calendars include iCloud, Gmail, G Suite, Microsoft Office 365, Microsoft Outlook and Microsoft Exchange (only through Alexa for Business).

best Alexa skills

(Image credit: Tom's Guide | Future)

18. Watch TV

There are several ways to control your TV using Alexa. If you have a Logitech Harmony remote, you can use the Harmony skill to link the remote to Alexa. It's recently been upgraded so you only have to say "Alexa, turn on my TV" or "Alexa, pause," and the command will automatically be sent.  Here's how to connect Alexa to your Harmony remote.

Tivo Bolt, Roamio, and Premiere owners can also control their DVRs using Alexa, as can Dish, Fios and Frontier customers. Here's how to connect Dish and Alexa.

19. Teach Alexa what you know

Alexa Answers is the voice assistant's crowd-sourced skill. It encourages Amazon to users share their intel on their favorite topics with the Alexa community by responding to questions Alexa doesn’t know the answer to yet. Once you’ve submitted an answer, you can earn badges based on how many questions you’ve answered, how many times your answer has been shared with Alexa customers and more. 

20. Get pregnancy tips and advice

Everyday Health's What to Expect is the best Alexa skill for expectant parents. It provides daily and weekly tips, guides, and advice, and is customized to your due date. The skill also provides advice for the first year of your newborn's life, too.  

21. Get first aid

The Mayo Clinic skill provides basic first aid answers, for everything from minor scratches to CPR instructions. However, this skill is intended for instructional purposes only; if you're in a life-threatening or emergency situation, call for help.

22. Get help in emergencies

The Ask My Buddy skill will send a notification (text, SMS or phone call) to a preselected contact when you're in an emergency and can't reach your phone. While this feature is not a substitute for 911, it lets you tell loved ones you need help.

23. Ask Alexa to explain itself

This skill was designed to make your voice assistant's behavior less cryptic. When you ask "Alexa, why did you do that?" you'll hear an explanation for why Alexa responded the way it did to your last voice command. Presumably, the feature will lead to better communication between you and your voice assistant in the future.

best Alexa skills

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

24. Connect with your Fitbit

Want to find out how close you are to reaching your daily step goal? The Fitbit skill lets you ask Alexa how many steps you've taken, how well you slept and how you did on other metrics recorded by your Fitbit activity tracker. Check out our reviews of the best Fitbit devices to choose the right one for you.

25. Get the latest news

The NPR Hourly News Summary skill is a 5-minute briefing of the day's headlines, updated every hour. If you want to test your knowledge of the news, try out NPR's Wait Wait Quiz based on the comedy show "Wait Wait…Don't Tell Me." You'll be asked fill-in-the-blank trivia questions about the week's news. If you answer five correctly, you'll be entered for a chance to have your name mentioned in the next episode of the show

26. Start your car

Want to get your car started and warmed up before you drive off? A number of auto brands have skills that allow you to start your vehicle remotely, lock and unlock doors, change the interior temperature, turn on the lights and more. These include Hyundai Blue LinkMyFord Mobile and EV Car for Teslas.

best Alexa skills

(Image credit: Future)

27. Turn your lights on or off

Why bother reaching for your phone or a light switch when you can simply tell Alexa to turn off your connected lights? You'll need a smart plug or a smart light for this skill to work, but it's pretty handy. Skills are available for a number of smart-home platforms including Lutron and Control4. Here's how you can connect Alexa to your Philips Hue lights.

28. Follow your favorite teams

Alexa wants to help you stay on top of your favorite sports and teams. In the Alexa app, in the menu, tap Settings. In Sports Update, search for and save your favorite teams. The digital assistant can give you details such as scores and upcoming schedules for NFL, NBA, MLS, MLB, NHL, WNBA, NCAA, and other American sports. Once you've entered your team, you simply say "Alexa, give me my sports update."

29. Listen to a podcast

Anypod is the best Alexa skill if you want to stream your podcasts to an Alexa speaker. You can search by name, subscribe to podcasts, skip ahead or back, and when you pause an episode, it'll pick up right where you left off. Included in AnyPod's 3000-plus library of podcasts are Serial, RadioLab, This American Life, S-Town, The Moth, The Daily, TED Radio Hour, and This Week In Tech.

best Alexa skills

(Image credit: Future)

29. Control your thermostat

Several smart thermostats, including the Nest Learning Thermostat, Honeywell RTH8580WF, Honeywell Lyric, Honeywell Lyric T5 and Bosch BCC100 can be connected to Alexa, so that you can change the temperature just by speaking. Going one better, the Ecobee 5th gen—our favorite smart thermostat—even has Alexa built into it, so you don't need to talk to an Echo or Echo Dot.

How to choose the best Alexa skills for you

Picking the best Alexa skills for you is subjective. While almost everyone can benefit from weather, traffic, music and news skills, you’ll want to think about other ways Alexa can help or entertain you. It is your personal assistant, after all.

If you own any number of smart home devices, the best Alexa skills for you include the ones that associate to the IoT brands you use. Whether you use Philips Hue, C by GE or Lifx smart lights, there’s an Alexa skill to establish hands-free control. The same goes for the makers of the best smart plugs, best smart locks and more. 

Certain wearable devices also offer Alexa skills. Try using the Fitbit skill to see your fitness goal progress and health metrics, and the Bose skill to change the music of your smart speaker or headphones.

We’d recommend enabling emergency skills just in case, too. You don’t hope to use the Ask My Buddy skill, but you’ll be happy you have a ICE contact set up when trouble strikes. 

How we test the best Alexa skills

We spend a lot of time exploring the Alexa app to find the best Alexa skills for our readers, as well as asking Alexa itself for suggestions. Wherever you might keep an Alexa speaker, we consider what kind of queries you might have while in that space. We also test a variety of skills that help with chores, errands, scheduling, communication and more.   

For certain Alexa skill categories like ‘Start Your Day,’ ‘Get Exercise’ and ‘Music & Audio,’ we test the top offerings and look at user ratings to make confident recommendations. Sometimes skills aren’t as smart as they’re advertised, so we’ve vetted the ones above to make sure they work and make Alexa the most useful personal assistant it can be.