Enabling Skills for Amazon's Alexa is easier than ever. Now, all you have to do is say, "Alexa, enable Lyft," and poof — you've given your Echo speaker or other Alexa-enabled device the ability to order you a ride. But there are now 14,000 skills and climbing — pretty soon, you could control your cable box using Alexa—so how do you decide or know which Skills to enable? Well, you can search the Alexa app by category, such as Smart Home, Food and Drink or Lifestyle. Or, you can just check out our list.
Currently, Alexa is found primarily in the Echo, Echo Dot, Tap, Fire TV, and Fire Tablet. But developers are actively working to expand the virtual assistant's reach to other devices, such as the Ecobee4 Thermostat. The virtual AI is popping up in new places all of the time, so you might as well make it as smart as possible. Here are some of the best skills to enable on Alexa.
If you ask "Alexa, what are your deals?" you'll hear a series of Prime member-exclusive deals that you need an Alexa-enabled device to order. You can also visit Amazon's Voice Shopping page to get the sentences you'll need to say to trigger them. Image: Jeramey Lende / Shutterstock.com
If you have a Kayak account, you can enable Alexa to help you plan a trip. This skill can track flights and check prices. You can even tell it your budget, and Kayak Explore will tell you where in the world you can go. To activate it, say "Alexa, ask Kayak where I can go for $500."
Simply say, "Alexa, ask airport security for the wait time at LGA," to find out how long the line is at LaGuardia Airport in New York City. You can also use a city name. The Airport Security skill will check the TSA's public API for the last-reported wait times at the airport checkpoint.
Uber and Lyft both have skills you can enable for Alexa. Once you've set up an account and have the payment options filled in, it's as easy as saying, "Alexa, ask Uber to request a ride," or "Alexa, ask Lyft how much a Lyft Plus from home to work costs." The ride fare will be debited automatically from your account.
You have to complete a couple of steps to set up the SMS with the Molly skill. First, register at smswithmolly.com, and then enable the feature. But it lets you upload your favorite contacts, with unique first names. Then, you merely say, "Alexa, ask SMS with Molly to send 'I'll be late,' to Lauren."
After linking your Amazon account to your Slack account, you can enable the Chat Bot skill for the messaging and collaboration service. This lets you post to a specific channel. You simply say, "Alexa, tell Chat Bot to post 'Hello world' to Random."
ELIZA was a computer program written in 1966 designed to attempt natural language communications. Now, that script can imitate a Rogerian psychologist. You can start a self-revealing look inside yourself by saying something like, "Alexa, tell Eliza that I want to talk about my mother." Note: This is not a real substitute for actual therapy.