The best Alexa Skills and commands 2021: the ultimate in Amazon Echo tips and tricks

The best Alexa skills: timers, alarms and reminders

We've grown very fond of using our Alexa devices as voice-activated timers: they're perfect for quickly setting an alarm while our hands are otherwise busy, which seems to happen regularly. 

The obvious use case here is when you're cooking. Put some pasta in a boiling pan? Ask Alexa to set a timer for ten minutes. Boiling an egg? Another timer can cover it. 

Alarms are also helpful Alexa skills, although here Alexa presents less of an advantage over simply using your phone. You can ask Alexa to set one-off alarms, or have them repeat on whatever schedule you want.

Finally, reminders are also handy if you want an alarm that tells you to do a specific task. Rather than hearing an alarm and forgetting why you set it, Alexa will instead remind you of its purpose. 

We find this Alexa skill helpful for setting reminders for ourselves in the morning, when Alexa will helpfully interject to remind us to take lunch into work, for example, or to leave a note for the dog walker. 

Best Alexa skills

Amazon Echo Dot

The best Alexa skills: to-do lists

When the Amazon Echo first launched it came with a fairly basic to-do list built in as one of its primary skills. 

However, if you wanted to make the most of this function then you needed to start using the Alexa app as your daily to-do list – not hugely convenient, given its rather limited set of functions.

This has now changed with the integration of Todoist as a separate Alexa skill, which is one of our favorite to-do list apps. Adding something to your Alexa to-do list can cause it to automatically appear in the Todoist app on your phone or computer, alongside all your other tasks. 

In order to set this up, sign into your Todoist account in the Alexa app, via the Lists section of Settings. Once that's done you can add items to your list by telling Alexa to "Add [task] to my to-do list".

Jon Porter

Jon Porter is the ex-Home Technology Writer for TechRadar. He has also previously written for Practical Photoshop, Trusted Reviews, Inside Higher Ed, Al Bawaba, Gizmodo UK, Genetic Literacy Project, Via Satellite, Real Homes and Plant Services Magazine, and you can now find him writing for The Verge.