Supercharge your Echo device with these essential Alexa skills

The Echo Dot was Amazon’s best-selling item during last weekend’s post-Thanksgiving sales bonanza. Which means if you didn’t buy one yourself you’re probably getting one as a gift.

If you’re one of the millions of people who will accept Alexa into their homes this year, you’ll want to get the most out of your device by getting the right skills.

This list will provide you with the basics to get started, but there’s over 20,000 skills (and more being added all the time) so you’re certain to find many excellent options that aren’t on this list.

In order to find and use Alexa skills travel to Amazon.com on your computer or mobile device, or use the Amazon shopping app. Log in like you normally would, and choose Alexa Skills as the department you’re shopping in.

Don’t worry, it’s free to enable skills (though that is subject to change, and some skills do have pay features, so you’ll want to pay attention.) Once you find a skill you’d like to try all you need to do is click “enable.”

If you’re going to have a speaker in your room that’s always plugged in and turned on you may as well put it to use, when you’re not listening to music. Alexa has a plethora of ambient sounds skills that can be enabled to provide subtle background noise for your apartment of the future.

We recommend starting off with “Thunderstorm Sounds” and “Oscillating Fan”, but there’s literally dozens of available choices so you should check out a few.

Try playing different sounds on different devices at the same time to create specific soundscapes. For example, if you wanted to pretend you were a technology journalist in the Midwest you could play “Airplane Sounds,” “Train Sounds,” and “Police Sirens” at full volume all day and night.

Okay, there’s probably not a “Police Sirens” ambient sound skill, but the other ones are real.

If you’ve got small children in the house, you’ll probably need more than “Babbling Brook” to create a calm atmosphere. We suggest “Sesame Street,” which lets you ‘call’ Elmo and play games – great for distracting a toddler while you rant on a Bitcoin forum.

One of our favorite family-friendly Alexa games comes in the form of a voice-controlled “Scooby Doo” mystery that plays out like a choose-your-own-adventure story with excellent voice-acting.

There are tons of skills for games also, including the one you’ll find on every list: “Read the full article from the Source…

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