There’s some really cool things happening with technology these days, things like augmented reality, virtual reality, artificial intelligence and machine learning (did you know Edmonton is a leader in that field?)
Our smart phones are so smart. And our homes are getting smarter.
In our home we’ve had smart TVs forever, and recently, we added a smart home assistant—Amazon’s Alexa!
I was skeptical at first (I never really got into phone assistants like Siri because I felt like I could just type or swipe quicker lol), but with a home assistant, I’m hooked. We have an Echo in our living room and an Echo Dot in our bedroom, so Alexa is hanging out in two key areas of the house.
News, weather, shopping lists, and probably our key use for the home assistant—playing music, is just one ‘Alexa?’ away.
It’s pretty cool to be able to get news highlights read to me as I feed the animals in the morning, or blast Backstreet Boys while I’m washing the dishes (does anyone else listen to BSB every day? Just me?).
When we have friends over, Alexa’s always getting song requests. We taught our niece and nephew to add “please” and “thank you” when they’re making requests to Alexa (it’s just good manners… also for when the home assistants rise up, they’ll remember who was nice to them. Lol!)
There are times when Alexa doesn’t understand our questions, or doesn’t properly hear our questions, and that can be frustrating (she always apologizes for not knowing though lol). But overall, Mike and I love having the Amazon Echo (Alexa) home assistant, and are excited about the possibilities of this type of technology.
Below are a list of some of our favourite Alexa Skills!
Keep scrollin’ down to enter for a chance to win your own Amazon Echo, courtesy of TELUS!
Remember, I’m a #TeamTELUS ambassador this year so I get to write about and give away some cool TELUS stuff for readers!
My Top 10 Amazon Echo / Alexa Skills
I wasn’t joking when I wrote I listen to Backstreet Boys every day. Still. (I’m turning 29 this year lol). Connecting your Spotify account with Alexa is easy. “90s pop” and “2000s pop” are also often played in our home. lol. You can also just ask her to play music and the next thing you know she’s playing you ‘Best of Vampire Weekend.’
You can set up Alexa to a bunch of news sites. Ours is set to CBC News. It’s a great way to get some quick headlines that still includes a bit more context (with interview clips) while you’re doing other things.
3. ‘Alexa, add (____).’
I see the cat food is running low, I say ‘Alexa, add cat food.’ I remember we’re almost out of toilet paper, I say ‘Alexa, add toilet paper.’ Alexa is great at taking down your shopping/grocery list notes, that are then easily accessible from your phone when you’re on the go.
4. ‘Alexa, turn on the TV.’
I mentioned smart TVs. We’ve got a few of them and one of the first things Mike did when we brought Alexa home was hook her up to the smart TVs. Asking Alexa to turn on and off the TV is a pretty common request in our house.
TELUS has an Alexa Skill that lets you hook up your account and do things like calling certain contacts you program in (like mom and dad), or even check your data usage if you feel like you might be getting close to going over. It’s pretty handy!
As a huge fan of escape rooms, I was excited to learn there was an audio escape room Skill you could play with Alexa. Mike and I have tried a few of the rooms and have been unsuccessful at all of them. Audio escape rooms are really challenging! It’s fun but really hard.
Okay this one is a little silly but we’re big fans of Pokemon in this household so when Mike found out you can ‘activate’ a Pikachu voice through Alexa, he obviously enabled that skill. We don’t use it often, but it’s proven to be a fun party trick, and our niece and nephew love it lol.
Mike likes to sleep with some radio background noise, so when we got the Echo Dot for our bedroom, the first thing we did was set up the Radioplayer Canada skill so Alexa could find and transmit some of our favourite local radio stations (including KISS 91.7, so I can hear Pepper and Dylan in the morning!)
Did you know I record a monthly social media podcast with my friend Tyler? Well I do! And now you can listen to it by enabling the AnyPod podcast Skill, then asking Alexa to play Don’t Call Me a Guru! Fun!! Also maybe at this point you would say ‘Alexa Volume 3’ because my laugh gets pretty loud.
10. ‘Alexa, turn on the lights.’
OK, this one is kind of cheating so I could get to 10 Skills on this list (lol). We don’t actually have smart lights enabled in our home so this doesn’t quite work yet, but we fully intend on switching to smart lights so Alexa can help us with turning those on and off too! For those who do have smart lights, this would definitely be one of your top Alexa skills!
Now that you’ve read about some of the fun skills Alexa has (and even more Alexa skills are coming!!), enter to win an Echo and try out Alexa for yourself!
** AMAZON ECHO GIVEAWAY! **
Thanks to my friends at TELUS, I’m excited to give away an Amazon Echo so you too can enjoy having Alexa as your home assistant! Something that you might not consider when you’re using your smart devices is how important fast and reliable Internet is to ensuring assistants like Alexa work properly. Alexa might not always understand our questions but at least she’s hearing and responding to us ASAP thanks to sweet, fast TELUS Internet connection. ;)
To enter to win an Amazon Echo (valued at $129.99), please do the following:
- Leave a comment on this blog post sharing with me why you want a smart home assistant. If you have a smart assistant already, let me know what your favourite skills are!
(this is mandatory. You must leave a comment in order to be entered. All other ways to enter below are just for additional entries)
- Leave a comment on my Facebook Page post, tagging a friend to spread the word about my giveaway!
- Tweet the following: I want to win an @AmazonEcho from @lindork + @TELUS! Check out her blog on 10 of #AmazonAlexa’s best skills & enter her giveaway: https://bit.ly/2w3Jw31 #smarthome #homeassistant #yeg #yyc
- Leave a comment on my Instagram post, tagging a friend to spread the word about my giveaway!
Comments are moderated so if yours doesn’t appear right away that’s normal! Winner will be randomly selected by May 13, 2018. You must be a resident of Canada to be eligible to win.
‘Alexa, publish my blog!!!’
** UPDATE ** Congrats to the randomly selected winner – Chelsea L.! Thank you everyone who entered!!
P.S. My friend and fellow Edmonton blogger Mack recently did a post comparing the Google Home with the Amazon Echo! Read it here if you’re looking for even more details on smart home assistants!
Disclaimer: I will always provide my 100% honest opinion on this blog. This blog was posted as part of my #TeamTELUS brand ambassador partnership. I’m a proud member of #TeamTELUS! This has no impact on opinions stated in this post.