The Amazon Echo has been growing in popularity dramatically over the past few months. It seems that nearly everybody has one - although very few people really know what to do with it.
Sure it's great for listening to music, getting the weather, and controlling your lights, but the Echo does much, much more than that. In fact, you can do nearly anything on your Echo now that you could do from your mobile phone, including playing games, ordering food, checking out your social media, and entertaining the kids.
How does that work? It's all done with what are called "Alexa skills" - little programs that you can run on your Echo to do custom stuff. You can add an Alexa skill to your Echo by simply going to the Alexa skills catalog on Amazon. From there, you can click a button to add the skill to your device.
So for those of us who haven't tried all these extra Amazon Echo features, here's a quick roundup of our favorite Alexa skills:
1.) Play Jeopardy. There are tons of games now available for the Echo, from choose your adventure games to boardgames. But our favorite is good old Jeopardy. You can use it at a party with your friends, or you can use it by yourself when you have nothing better to do. This version of Jeopardy isn't quite as hard as real Jeopardy, but it's just as much fun.
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2.) Cook a meal. Given how long the Echo's been out there aren't too many cooking skills available. There are some bartending skills, and calorie counting skills, but our favorite is a step-by-step cookbook called Recipe Buddy. Recipe Buddy lets you choose from almost any dish that you might want to make, and it walks you through making the dish.
If you have an Echo in your kitchen, you can tell it the name of a dish that you want to make, and it'll list the ingredients, and walk you through cooking. It's much easier to follow a recipe in the kitchen when you don't need to get out your little phone all the time.
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3.) Teach the kids. There are a ton of different skills that you can use to entertain while teaching the kids. Our favorite, Spelling Bee, allows kids to play spelling bee game in their downtime. There are similar games for math as well. We found that the kids were much more amenable to learning spelling when it was done by the lady inside the machine (Alexa).
There are countless other cool skills that you can use. Our suggestion is to go to the Alexa skills catalog and browse through the different categories. You're bound to find something that you never even guessed would be available on your Echo.