The One Alexa Skill Everyone Should Know

I started using this simple Alexa feature a few months ago, and I'm never going back. 

Credit: Tom's Guide

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

One of the hardest parts of getting myself out of bed in the morning used to be the sheer number of things I needed to do. I would trek around my apartment turning on the lights, brewing my coffee, checking the weather, scrolling through the news, and checking my calendar, all while trying to gather my clothes, keys, and other necessary items for work. It was a hectic, stressful half-hour.

Alexa Routines can greatly simplify this process. With Routines, you can program Alexa to walk you through your morning routine with little effort on your part. For example, you can set "Alexa, start my day" to turn on your lights, start your coffee, play Spotify, and turn on the TV. "Alexa, goodnight" could turn off your lights, turn off your TV, and play ambient sounds. (Google Home has a similar feature as well).

Here's how to set up Alexa routines. 

1. Open the Alexa app. You'll need to log into your Amazon account, which you can make for free if you don't have one.

Press the Menu button in the top left corner and select "Routines."

2. Create your routine. Tap the plus sign in the top right corner. You'll be able to select a trigger phrase and the actions that phrase will trigger. For example, saying "Alexa, good morning," can cause it to read the news. Don't forget to press "Save" when you're done. 

3. Use your routine. 

Now, all you have to do is say the trigger phrase, and Alexa will set your routine in action. If you don't have a smart home, you can still pack your Routine full of tasks Alexa can do for free, including predicting the weather, reading the news, reporting on traffic, or even telling a joke or story to get your day started on the right foot.

If you want Alexa to turn on your lights or start your TV or coffee, however, it's not as hard as you think. You can get a smart bulb, which Alexa can turn on as part of your routine, for less than $15, and a smart plug, which can let Alexa turn any of your devices on and off, for less than $20.

Credit: Tom's Guide

Monica Chin is a writer at The Verge, covering computers. Previously, she was a staff writer for Tom's Guide, where she wrote about everything from artificial intelligence to social media and the internet of things to. She had a particular focus on smart home, reviewing multiple devices. In her downtime, you can usually find her at poetry slams, attempting to exercise, or yelling at people on Twitter.