The voice-enabled bot  Amazon Alexa has been around for a while now, but it's possible you haven't quite explored all of the  add-ons available (in tech parlance, they are known as Skills). That's understandable, since the voicebot lets you order products out of the box and ask about the weather. If you're ready to extend the power of bot, here are my top picks for the weirdest and wackiest, but also the most useful. Note: To use these skills, click the link and look for the instructions on enabling them and how to activate them. You will need an Alexa-enabled device like the new Sonos Beam or an Amazon Echo.

1. Guitar Tuner

That's right, guitar players will love this simple Skill. Guitar Tuner plays each string four times, which makes it easy to tune because you don't have to lift a finger from the fret board.

2. DISH Network

You can have some fun with the DISH add-on, especially if you love to channel surf. For example, you can switch from ESPN to Fox News by voice, then ask about all of the movies that star Emily Blunt or Tom Cruise (or both). It's a remote-free world now.

3. Away Mode

The strangest voice app ever, Away Mode (made by the insurance company Hippo) plays recorded conversations of people arguing or debating board game rules. Why you ask? So criminals at least hear something before they try to steal...your Amazon Echo.

4. Big Sky

The term "hyper local weather" is a new trend. It means bots like Alexa, your apps, and websites look at your exact address and make  forecasts. Big Sky is one of the best.

5. Healing Sounds

Trying to catch a nap in your new napping pod? I feel your pain. Don't bother with a white noise generator or a fan. Healing Sounds plays background chimes and other sounds for an hour.

6. Interview Prep

You can have fun at meetings with this Skill. Ask Alexa to start  Interview Prep and you can all go around the room and practice giving answers, mock interview style. Some are taken from Amazon and Google interview questions; some are just weird.

7. Vivint SmartHome

Another Skill that provides loads of entertainment value (and practical value)--from  Vivint. You can ask Alexa to lock your doors at night, close the garage doors, and change the temperature in your house. This Skills requires the Vivint service and hardware, of course.

Published on: Aug 6, 2018