Alexa gives your 4th-gen Amazon Echo some excellent skills out of the box, but what about when you want to expand those capabilities? It’s possible with third-party skills you activate through the Alexa app or with your voice. Although some people might think the best Echo skills are purely fun ones, we’ll be looking at options that help you make the most of your time.
1. Conference Manager
In the fall of 2017, Amazon made it possible to call mobile and landline numbers for free, enhancing a capability that previously only allowed using your Echo as a phone when calling other people who own the device. There’s also a handy Conference Manager skill from Vonage that lets you dial into conference calls with your voice. You may consider it one of the best Echo skills for avoiding feeling rushed before a meeting.
It extracts details from Google Calendar, including meeting numbers and participant codes, saving you the trouble of copying and pasting those necessities into a phone or app interface. Cisco WebEx and GoToMeeting are among the providers the skill currently supports, with future updates planned. If you think Conference Manager is one of the best Echo skills out there after using it, colleagues would likely appreciate your find.
Do you often feel like your smartphone harms your productivity more than it helps it? If so, you’re not crazy. Research proves that smartphones hinder productivity, even without active usage. However, you probably can’t avoid some smartphone-centric tasks, like sending texts.
Scryb (pronounced “scribe”) can send text messages using the Echo without your smartphone. After activating the skill, say “Alexa, open Scryb.” When Alexa asks you for the phone number, speak it out, including the area code.” You can then say, “Alexa, ask Scryb what number is set” to ensure it’s correct.
Then, speak out your text message. This skill recognizes short ones better than long ones. Keep in mind, Scryb doesn’t allow people to reply to your texts. But, it’s useful for confirming things or giving family members reminders, such as “Don’t forget to take Grandma to the doctor at noon today” without getting distracted by your smartphone.
If you’re not careful, an intention to read “just one email” could turn into an hour spent digesting your inbox’s content. That is unless you enable the MailBot skill. It works with Gmail and reads entire messages to you, making it possible to do other things such as do housework or feed your baby while staying up to date about the newest emails.
You can also specify that the skill read all of them from a particular period or ones marked as Starred.
4. Meal Idea
Like many people who prefer to make dishes with what they have instead of making purposeful trips to the grocery store, you may spend more time figuring out what to cook than actually preparing it. If that’s true, use the Meal Ideal skill.
Users admit it doesn’t always give accurate suggestions based on the ingredients they have on hand, but say it’s fantastic for helping households break out of a routine based on making the same meals week after week. Try it if you’re ready to diversify but don’t want to spend lots of time researching what to cook.
5. Rain Sounds for Sleep, Relaxation and Focus
Researchers at New York’s Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute found that playing nature sounds in an office environment improved the moods and productivity levels of employees. In that instance, the scientists used the sounds of a flowing stream, but a soundtrack of falling rain should work similarly.
The Rain Sounds for Sleep, Relaxation and Focus does what its name suggests by playing rain sounds in 30-minute intervals. Alternatively, you can make the track play in a loop or stop it with a voice command.
6. I’m Driving
Statistics say Americans waste an average of $1,200 in time and fuel costs each year due to traffic conditions and even more in the most congested areas. The I’m Driving skill is one you can use just before dashing out the door to start driving to a destination.
It provides you with an estimated time to get there and gives a suggested route. If Alexa says it’ll take longer than expected, you can be proactive by changing your plans and leaving at a different time or setting expectations and telling a person you may be late.
By trying out some of the skills on this list, you could save more time than you ever imagined. They help you work smarter and avoid independently doing tasks that technology could simplify.
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