Updated: We've added some details on how you can use Alexa to keep abreast of your favorite sports. Check them out on the following pages.
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The best Amazon Alexa skills enable the Amazon Echo to access various apps, websites and services, allowing you to customise your Amazon Echo or Amazon Echo Dot so that Alexa can interact with the smart appliances in your house, check public transport for your area, read the headlines from your favorite newspaper or website, and a whole lot more.
We've collected together the best Amazon Echo Alexa skills in categories: Amazon Echo Alexa skills for smart homes, Alexa skills for travel, Alexa skills for food and drink, and the best games to play on your Amazon Echo.
We'll also take you through the process of installing these Alexa skills on your Amazon Echo.
Music and Radio
When we’ve tested various Amazon Echo products, probably the number one thing we’ve used it for has been music and radio playback.
The reason for this is simple: if you want to get something playing quickly then it’s much easier to ask Alexa for a specific song or radio station rather than having to open an app.
Getting set up with these services is very simple thanks to the fact that they’re built in rather than requiring you to install third-party skills.
If you want to use a music playing service other than Amazon Music you’ll need to sign into it using your login details, and then set it as your default. You can do this from the Alexa app on your smartphone, where you’ll need to head into the ‘Settings’ menu, scroll down to ‘Music and Media’ and then select the music service of your choosing.
It’s possible to leave Amazon Music as your default and still play music through Spotify, but doing so will require you to manually request Spotify with each voice command, which isn’t that convenient.
Radio playback is even more simple thanks to Alexa’s integration with TuneIn. Simply ask for any radio station that’s available on the service and it will automatically start playing.
Podcasts are also technically supported, but we found that Alexa isn’t very good at recognising episode names and numbers and we wouldn’t recommend the experience.
General playback info
There are a number of helpful tips you can use to get the most out of playing music on your Amazon Echo.
First is the fact that it’s possible to connect your Echo to an external Bluetooth speaker to improve its audio quality. You can do this through the Alexa app’s Settings menu.
Alternatively, if you have an Echo Dot you can also connect it to an external speaker using its 3.5mm jack.
Once you’ve got your music playing you can use your voice to control its overall volume, as opposed to just relying on the physical controls on the device. While it makes sense to ask Alexa to ‘turn the volume up’ or ‘turn the volume down’, we prefer the accuracy of asking for specific volumes.
To do this, ask Alexa to turn the volume to a number between 1 and 10 and no, you can’t ask it to turn the music up to 11…