Did you just unwrap a shiny, new Amazon Echo device? Or maybe you already have one and you're getting a little tired just streaming endless hours of holiday music.
You might already know that Alexa can convert teaspoons to tablespoons, time the food you put in the oven and tell jokes you can repeat at work. But the digital assistant in Amazon's Echo speakers is capable of so much more. It now has more than 25,000 skills at the ready — everything from ordering a pizza to booking a vacation.
Feed the dog
Okay, Alexa can't actually feed Fido for you. But Alexa does connect to smart dog feeders like Furbo or Petnet, so you can tell it to dish out the treats while you're stuck in traffic or running the kids around to school stuff. If you happen to have a Link AKC smart collar, Alexa can even tell you how much exercise your precious pooch has gotten today.
Just with Alexa alone, though, you can enable The Dog Feeder skill and say, “Alexa, ask the dog if we fed her.” Alexa will tell you when she last ate and ask if you plan to feed her. Say, “Yes.” Or “No.” That's how the app knows when the dog was last fed, so you have to set it up like this from the start. It's a little awkward, but this is a great skill if your dog is a mastermind at making everyone believe she hasn't been fed yet.
Alexa also orders dinner for your human family from skills like GrubHub, Amazon Restaurants, Domino's, and Pizza Hut. Add in the MySomm skill and it turns Alexa into Wine Gal, your personal wine sommelier that can give you wine recommendations for your meals. Enable the skill through the app or online and then say, "Alexa, ask Wine Gal to recommend a wine for pumpkin pie.” (It's the holidays — don't judge.)
Help you stay on a diet
As soon as the holidays are over though, this skill might be your new BFF. More pie? Pasta? Beer? Wine? Whatever you're craving, this is the moment when a few words of support can make the difference. Enable the Talk Me Down skill and say, “Alexa, talk me down.” She'll then say one of 31 canned phrases like, “Don't give in to weakness,” “Fight for yourself. Defend your future.” Or, later when those cookie cravings come calling again, “You're stronger than this. You're smarter than this. You're better than this.” Genius.
Alexa can command you to exercise, too, with one of more than 30 fitness-related skills. My favorites are the 5-Minute Plank Workout, which gives you six sets of core various plank exercises with short rests in between. After you enable the skill, just say “Alexa, start five-minute plank,” and you're off. I also really like the Five Minute Workout: Core and Cardio, for short blasts of exercise throughout the day, and the 7-minute-workout skill. If you say, "Alexa, start 7-minute workout," Alexa suggests top rated exercises based on various muscle groups. She also helps with yoga, guided meditation, and can now integrate with Fitbit too.