How to Set Up Your Echo Dot (and Get the Most From It)

Amazon’s Skills store interface manages somehow to both over and underwhelm. If you find yourself thinking that you wish it did X, chances are there’s a skill for it—though you’ll have to see if that skill works well. You’ll find plenty of useful Echo apps as you go. Here, we rounded up some of our favorite ways to leverage Echo Apps.

Call a Car

Uber and Lyft both offer Alexa Skills, letting you request a ride without pulling out your phone. Lyft comes with the added benefit of telling you how much a given ride’ll cost.

Work Out

If you have trouble getting motivated to work out, it’s worth giving an exercise app like 7-Minute Workout a shot. It does what it says, guiding you through a short workout, letting you take breaks as needed. It’s just one routine, which can get monotonous. But hey, no pain no gain.

Check the Weather

One of our favorite weather apps is Big Sky, a hyperlocal service that lets you know what it’s like outside not just in your city, but on your block. You can also set up Alexa’s daily Flash Briefing (see above) to tell you the weather.

Play a Game

There are tons of games you can play with the Amazon Echo Dot, from classics like 20 Questions to more obscure finds like The Magic Door. The Magic Door shows the compact smart speaker’s potential for real depth. Saying too much might give away some of the fun, but suffice to say that it’s an interactive game that leads you on a magical adventure stuffed with riddles, gnomes, and a tropical monkey island.

Level Up Jeopardy

This … is … Jeopardy! Sort of. Updated every weekday, the official Jeopardy app tests you with the “sixth” clue in every category from that day’s show. You already shout the answers at the TV when you watch; now you can do it with the validation you crave.

Make Your Home Smarter

Got a smart home? Alexa supports Nest, Control4, SmartThings, Philips Hue lights, Lutron, Insteon, and pretty much any other hub or platform you can think of.

If you’re a smart home newbie, maybe start with a smart plug from Wemo or TP-Link. They are low-cost, low-stakes entry points that let you turn whatever’s plugged into them on and off with a yelp.

And that should do it! For a start, anyway. Amazon adds new Alexa Skills by the week, so keep an eye on its update emails in case something catches your eye. Otherwise, enjoy yelling at your new gadget, and having it actually talk back for a change.


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