Amazon Alexa has been one of my best friends during the pandemic. I was an early adopter because the promise of a voice UI is still interesting to me, at least.
Here are some of my favorite Alexa skills:
1. iHeart Radio
I can’t work in silence to save my life. The iHeart Radio skill lets me listen to DC101 in my home office and wakes me up as my morning alarm
2. iRobot Home
Call me lazy, but I wasn’t the best at vacuuming even before the pandemic, and getting a Roomba changed all that. The iRobot Home skill makes it even better because I can command my Roomba to do my bidding.
3. Samuel L. Jackson-celebrity personality for Alexa
When I need a laugh, the Samuel L. Jackson skill delivers. He’s great with the weather
4. Phillips Hue
I’m not as lazy as the skills I list in this post suggest, but the Hue skill is another favorite of mine, especially when I leave my home office for the evening.
5. Apple Music
When I listen to music, it’s often through the Apple Music skill playing through the Echo Show in my home office.
My home office is up to two flights of stairs, so I use the Ring skill to view my front porch through my Ring Camera
7. Google Nest
The Google Nest skill serves a similar duty to the Ring skill, except it lets me view my Nest cameras through the Echo Show in my home office.
I bought my first Alexa on a lark — I forgot that I ordered it — so I may never have really set my expectations for Alexa. It’s been fun to tinker with. What’s missing (for me, at least) are more productivity tools. I’ve yet to be happy with any of the calendar or task list options for Alexa. I understand the lack of skills that support Google Workspace and Microsoft 365, for that matter. Still, I hope to see some innovation in the Echo and Alexa skills from the pandemic and the new world of remote and hybrid work.
Alexa and me
While some write that Amazon Alexa usage is way down, it’s still used in my house. I’ve yet to shop with Alexa, but I continue to appreciate the creative uses of the Amazon Echo, especially when the feeling of tinker comes over me.
Will Kelly is a product marketer, and writer focused on DevOps and the cloud. His technology interests include enterprise mobility, collaboration tools, and remote work. He has written for TechTarget, Opensource.com, InfoQ, and others. Follow him on Twitter: @willkelly.