Top 5 Favorite - Amazon’s Alexa Skills

 
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by Jen Aguglia

Amazon Alexa has leveled-up our home -- creating a space that’s functional and fun at the same time. From automation to entertainment, Alexa has made this introverted hermit quite happy.

Here are my top 5 favorite Alexa skills:

1. “Alexa, play Pandora”

For years, I wanted a kitchen radio. And it kept moving to the bottom of my wish list until finally my husband bought me an Amazon Alexa. It’s primary function was to let me be-bop around the kitchen to my favorite mid-century Pandora station, “Beach Boys Radio”. Many a pancake have been flipped to the sweet sounds of “Barbara Ann”. Now that we’ve added several Alexa’s throughout our home, it’s something I can enjoy in my kitchen or while in my studio, or reading a book in bed. And if I want to listen to a specific song, my $3.99/month subscription to Amazon Music delivers, instantly. Thanks, Alexa.

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2. “Alexa, what’s the weather”

There’s nothing more annoying to me than getting up early and getting ready in the morning. The second most annoying thing to me is not being prepared for the weather. The weather in Upstate New York can be quite temperamental -- bouncing from 40 degrees down to -22 with a wind chill over the course of just a few days, sometimes hours. This throws a wrench into choosing the outfit. Asking Alexa what the weather is while I’m flailing about trying to get ready for work is a lovely convenience I do not take for granted. Thanks, Alexa.

3. “Alexa, what’s my flash briefing”

Nowadays, keeping up with the ever changing U. S. political landscape, Bitcoin prices and global happenings is a must. We’re all invested. As I’m frantically trying to apply my ‘face’ each morning, I’m able to get the latest news updates from sources like CNN, NASA, Fox News or NPR -- whatever your preference may be. You can even pepper in fun stuff like ‘Word of the Day’ or ‘Horoscope Flash Briefing’ -- truly anything you’re into. This skill makes me feel like I’m in-the-know. Thanks, Alexa.

4. “Alexa, turn the bedroom light off”

Many quiet evenings in the Aguglia household have been interrupted by petty squabbles over whose responsibility it is to turn the light out. Is it the person who last came in the room or the person closest to the light switch? Thanks to Alexa, we’ll never have that debate again. Our bedroom lights are fully automated by using Philips Hue White Light LED bulbs. Now we just command Alexa and instantly, without conflict, the lights turn off in an elegant fashion. We can even dim the lights by saying, “Alexa, bedroom light 50%”. How romantic. Thanks, Alexa.

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5. “Alexa, help me sleep”

Have you ever wanted to fall asleep to the sound of a crackling fire? Prefer dozing off to white noise? A thunderstorm? Or maybe a summer rainstorm? My personal favorite is summer rainstorm. The crackling fire makes me think my house is on fire, so that one is a hard no. We used to sleep with a fan on every night. I’m not sure if that’s a bad habit but at the very least, having a huge clunky fan running all night is not ideal. Alexa helped us break that habit. Sleep, for me, is a huge priority. I need at least 7 hours of uninterrupted slumber to be a fully functioning human the next day. And falling asleep has always been a challenge. Not anymore. Thanks, Alexa.

Alexa has made a huge difference in how our home functions and has made it a more convenient and happy place to be. As a mom who works 40 hours a week and has a teen in multiple sports, I’ll take any and all gadgets and gizmos that makes being at home easier.