What is an Alexa Skill?
The era of intelligent personal assistant is here but before we discuss Alexa Skills let me introduce you to Alexa. Alexa is a self-learning Artificial Intelligence (AI) developed by Amazon Lab126. Alexa is the brain that runs in Amazon Echo which has been hugely popular due to the 9X increase of sales last holiday season. People love Alexa so much that according to Consumer Intelligence Research Partners more than 250,000 people have proposed to Alexa (see chart below). You can ask it questions or give it commands by saying, “Alexa” followed by what you want Alexa to do. For now, Alexa only understands voice commands in English and German but this will change quickly. Watch the video below to learn more about Alexa.
Alexa skills are third-party developed voice experiences (which are similar to apps) that can enhance the functioning of any Alexa-enabled device like Amazon Echo. Alexa skills can be created by anyone, all you need is the Alexa Skills Kit and it’s set of code-samples with documentation. It comes with self-service API and varied tools that make it easy for you build skills for Alexa. Leveraging skills is important for brands and business who want to dominate voice search and be present in a customers home.
Check out these 25 amazing voice search statistics as well as the ones below.
- “20% of search queries on Google’s mobile app and on Android devices are voice searches.”(Search Engine Land, 2016)
- 19% use Amazon’s Alexa AI at least monthly. (HubSpot, 2015)
What is Amazon Echo & Echo Dot?
Amazon Echo and Echo Dot are voice-controlled speakers that are designed to understand your voice commands clearly and quickly. They work hands-free and function 24/7. Amazon Echo’s growth and usage has increased significantly since it was first introduced to the public.
How much is the Amazon Echo?
Amazon Echo costs around $179 and Echo Dot cost $49.99.
Again what has made Amazon Echo so popular is that it comes with Alexa. Once you buy an Amazon Echo Alexa becomes your personal assistant that is always listening to your commands using skills.
How to enable and use Alexa Skills?
It is pretty simple to enable and use skills. I am going to explain a bit first on how you can enable skills from Amazon. All you have to do is search for skills in Alexa app or from the Alexa skills store. Go through the categories and choose a skill that you want to use. Click on that skill and click on “Enable (skill name) Skill.”
Please note that some skills may require you to get a separate subscription as most of them are developed by 3rd-party.
The Steps: The example shows how you would enable the Economist (Magazine) Skill
- Download the Alexa App: You need to download and install the Alexa app. Then follow the steps below to add skill:
2. Connect to Alexa: Make sure that your device is connected to Alexa:
3. Load the App and Check Skills: Check the left navigation panel and select “Skills”:
4. Search Skills: You can search for a skill on the search bar or browse through the categories to find your skill:
5. Enable Skill: Once you have the skill you want, just click “Enable Skill”:
Explore some skills here. https://www.amazon.com/skills. Choose a skill that you like and enable it!
How to use the Alexa Skill once Enabled
After enabling a skill, just ask Alexa to “Open (skill name) Skill” and use it. It is that simple. If you are having trouble opening or using a skill, just go through the skill documentation or detail page. When you want to disable a skill, just say “Disable (skill name) Skill.”
How do you play Spotify on Echo?
Just link your Spotify account to your Amazon account. Although make sure that you are logged in to your Spotify account before tapping on Spotify on your Alexa app. Here’s is what you need to do!
- Go to Alexa Settings
- Select Music & Media
- Link your Spotify account
- Tap to Choose default music services
- Select Spotify
Note: You can only link one Spotify account to your Amazon account.
How to play music
You can ask Alexa to play anything via voice commands. Just say, “Alexa!” then…
- “Play [song name] by [artist]”
- “Pause” – to pause the music
- “Play [Discover Weekly] playlist” – to play your favorite playlist
- “Volume up/down” – to turn volume up or down
- “Stop” – to stop the music
Check out the Amazon Echo support page for more information.
Amazon Echo will continue to grow in popularity and Alexa will continue to be useful in our lives. The faster you learn how to use different skills on Alexa the easier you will be able to leverage this new technology for your life and business.