Alexa

Alexa Update…

Alexa has had an update that will make the Echo and Echo Dot easier to use! 

We previously wrote about Amazon’s Alexa service that is accessible by voice control. You can read details and find out more here. Since writing that article there are more changes to the Echo and Echo Dot Alexa service that will make it even easier to use. One of the main ways to add functionality to the Alexa service is to enable a ‘skill’. This is how you can get more functionality to the service – it may be a skill to add Dominoes Pizza, so you can place repeat orders, or a trivia skill so you can play games. There are other information skills, hobby skills and so on.

Drawback to ‘skills’

One issue with these skills is that you typically need to use the app or go online to enable them to be able to then use it – asking Alexa to ‘launch’ the service. Although for accessibility it is possible to use VoiceOver or similar to hear the options, this will take a longer time and potentially be more cumbersome to users.

Changes

Amazon then added the ability to ask Alexa to enable the skill – so for example – previously you would go on to the app or website and enable the skill, and then you could use it. Now you are able to just ask, “Alexa, enable Dominoes”, for example. However, a new change has come where if you ask Alexa something it will use the skill, fulfill your request and enable the skill in one and keep the skill enabled so you don’t need to do it again. So, you could just say Alexa open trivia, or similar and the skill will be enabled and the request will be fulfilled.

Need to know

Be aware that this is new, at the time of writing, and so complex requests may not be done and the enabling of the skill may take the priority. It may take a few tries to get used to this new way of accessing things on Alexa. Also, one other issue is that it is very hard to know what skills are available or what can actually be done, so you may still want to go online or through the app just to understand what possibilities there are.

New Skills

Some new arrivals in skills include;

  • Ambient Noise, City Sounds
  • Radio Favorites
  • Rocket Facts
  • AA Route Planner
  • Film Suggester

Many of these are too new to have any ratings so you’ll have to make your mind up for yourself  if they are worth having!

Top enabled Skills currently are;

  • Sleep and Relaxation Sounds
  • The Higher Lower Game
  • 1-Minute Mindfulness
  • Sky News

Do you have an Echo or Dot? What are some of the skills you use? Will you use voice to enable skills or still go through the app to enable them?

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