Amazon Echo: 10 Alexa productivity skills to try
Out of the box, Alexa is super useful for everyday life tasks such as making to-do lists, setting timers and alarms, and more. But thanks to third-party integrations, otherwise known as skills, Amazon's voice assistant can also make your work life much easier. Here are 10 productivity skills we think you'll find helpful...
Leave a voice message
The Bulletin Board skill lets users leave voice messages for other Amazon Alexa users. It's super helpful for arranging schedules with other members of your household. For instance, you can say, "Alexa, ask Bulletin Board to leave the message 'Walk the dog' for John." Then, when John gets home, he can say, "Alexa, ask Bulletin Board what are the messages for John."
Connect your calendar to Alexa
You can link a supported calendar such as Google Calendar or Microsoft Outlook.com to Alexa, and if someone else is in your household, they can also link their calendar to Alexa. Once you link all your calendar accounts, you can say, "Alexa, what is on my calendar?" or "Alexa, what are my appointments?" to access your calendar.
Real-time stock quotes
If you're in finance, you probably want the latest security quotes, stock prices of all US companies, and market summaries from S&P 500, DJIA, NASDAQ & NYSE, and other indices updates.
You can do this by adding integrations like Bloomberg Market Data and News or Stock Exchange or CNBC. If you're using Bloomberg's skill, you can say, "Alexa, ask Bloomberg for market updates," or if you're using Stock Exchange, you can say, "Alexa, ask Stock Exchange to quote my portfolio". If you're using CNBC, say, "Alexa, ask CNBC how are the markets doing?"
Need a fresh idea?
If you're in marketing or are just looking for some ideas, enable the Giant Spoon skill. The suggestions may not always be applicable to what you're working on, but they may spark some interesting ideas. Simply say, "Alexa, ask Giant Spoon for an idea" or "Alexa, ask Giant Spoon for help with brainstorming."
Check your Twitter feed
For some people, Twitter is a real distraction, but for other people, it's a necessary work tool. Twitter Reader, made by Twitter itself, can read your timeline, mentions, retweets, and likes. It also lets you search tweets. To get started, just say, "Alexa, ask Twitter what is happening."
Send a text message
Texting can be a distraction, but we've all had to send a text to get something done. AT&T's Send Message skill lets AT&T customers send text messages through their Amazon Echo or Amazon Dot speakers. Once enabled, just say, "Alexa, ask AT&T to text Mike."
Track a package
Waiting for something to be delivered to your office? UPS now has an Alexa app that allows you to track a package, find a location, get a shipping rate, and more. To get started, say, "Alexa, ask UPS to track a package" or "Where is the nearest UPS location?"
Join a conference call
Vonage's Conference Manager skill interfaces with Google Calendar to not only identify your next conference call, but also save you the hassle of dialing in. Say, "Alexa, tell conference manager to start my conference," and it will look at your calendar, extract the conference information, dial the bridge number, meeting number and participant code, and then call you. From there, just pick up the phone, and you're on the call.
Capital One's Alexa skill allows you to access information on credit card, checking, savings, auto, and home loan accounts. It also has a feature called "How much did I spend?" that gives info on users spending histories. All you have to ask is "Alexa, how much did I spend at Target last month?" or "Alexa, what's my checking account balance?" or "Alexa, when is my car loan due?" or "How much is my next mortgage payment?" Apart from Capital One, a few other financial institutions work with Alexa, such as TD Ameritrade, Liberty Mutual, Alliant Credit Union, and more.
Alexa Things To Try
This isn't a productivity skill, but it's worth including: Amazon's Alexa Things To Try is one of the best ways to find useful Alexa apps and skills. Once enabled, say, "Alexa, what's my Flash Briefing?" As part of your Flash Briefing, Alexa will provide a daily tip on Alexa features.