These 10 Amazon Alexa skills are more weird than useful

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You can make your Alexa devices do all sorts of weird, useless things.
You can make your Alexa devices do all sorts of weird, useless things.
Image: christina ascani/mashable

Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant is a lot of different things at once. To some people, it’s a useful tool that makes daily household life significantly more convenient. 

To others, it’s a bit invasive and creepy to have something listening to all of your conversations at home. 

One thing most people can probably agree on is that Alexa is weird. A voice-powered home assistant with a huge number of community-made skills you can download for it is bound to get a little strange at times. 

We’ve perused Amazon’s Alexa skills marketplace for some of the oddest ones around, and these are the most bizarre picks we could find. 

Cigar Pairing

Alexa can help you find the perfect Cigar pairing.

Alexa can help you find the perfect Cigar pairing.

Image: Roberto Machado Noa / LightRocket via Getty Images

All of the Alexa skills on this list have varying degrees of usefulness, but the Cigar Pairing skill might actually be pretty helpful in the very specific situation it was designed for. Cigars are typically enjoyed with some manner of “adult beverage” as the official description says, and this skill can help you pick the right one to pair with a cigar.

It can make recommendations whether or not your cigar of choice is in its database or not, which is a nice touch. That might be more easily accomplished with a Google search, but this Alexa skill is here just in case that isn’t an option.

Good Night

This could be you, thanks to the power of Alexa.

This could be you, thanks to the power of Alexa.

Image: Shutterstock / Maksym Povozniuk

The Good Night Alexa skill is perfectly harmless in a charming sort of way. It’s simple: You tell it “Alexa, good night” and it tells you “good night” back.

Sometimes it’s just a nice thing to hear. 

‘Skyrim’ Very Special Edition

Imagine this, but without being able to see any of it.

Imagine this, but without being able to see any of it.

Image: Bethesda Game studios

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is one of the most beloved video games of the last decade. It actually became so much of a running joke that Bethesda kept releasing it on new platforms so many years after it first came out that they put together a voice-controlled Alexa version.

The trailer starring Keegan Michael Key is probably all you need to see to get the gist of it, but it’s on the Alexa skill marketplace if you want to play Skyrim in the weirdest way possible.

Countdown to ‘Game of Thrones’

This Alexa skill will only be useful for a little while longer.

This Alexa skill will only be useful for a little while longer.

Image: Helen Sloan / HBO

The wait for the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones has been agonizing for fans. It just isn’t fair for a TV show with so many hanging plot threads to take almost two years off. 

Thankfully, there’s an Alexa skill to remind you exactly when the new season starts. The countdown skill will let you know how many days, hours, minutes and seconds until the April 14 premiere. This one is actually useful, but probably won’t be for much longer.

Egg Facts

Finally, you can learn more about eggs thanks to Alexa.

Finally, you can learn more about eggs thanks to Alexa.

Image: Nasir Kachroo / NurPhoto via Getty Images

Egg Facts has been around for a couple of years and is a good go-to example of a bizarre Alexa skill. There are actually multiple Alexa skills under the same name, somehow. 

Install Egg Facts, tell Alexa to launch the app, and it will give you facts about eggs. It’s beautifully simple.

Cat Food

There are probably easier ways to summon your cat than using an Alexa skill.

There are probably easier ways to summon your cat than using an Alexa skill.

Image: Ozkan Bilgin/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Cat owners know that the quickest and easiest way to get the attention of a feline friend is to open a can of their food. The sound alone is enough to stir them from slumber and this Alexa skill aims to take advantage of that.

Its sole purpose is to simulate the sound of a cat food can being opened. That’s it. Perhaps the best part is that user reviews claim their cats weren’t fooled by it.

Unofficial ‘Star Wars’ Galaxy Characteristics

Alexa might be able to tell you how tall Luke Skywalker was.

Alexa might be able to tell you how tall Luke Skywalker was.

Image: John Wilson / Lucasfilm

The Star Wars movies do a lot of things, but one thing they don’t do is regularly dive into things like character height. The Unofficial Star Wars Galaxy Characteristics Alexa skill is a possible solution to that specific issue.

If you want to find out Boba Fett’s eye color or the technical specifications of an X-Wing, this might be the skill for you. 

Golf Quotes

Get motivated before you hit the links with some golf quotes courtesy of Alexa.

Get motivated before you hit the links with some golf quotes courtesy of Alexa.

Image: David Cannon/Getty Images

It may not always be easy to find the time to hit the golf course, but there’s an Alexa skill to help fans stay in the golf mindset. Golf Quotes is exactly what it sounds like: A skill that enables Alexa to recite famous quotes about the game of golf to you.

It’s a simple and somewhat goofy concept that actually seems to be executed well. The skill can spout almost 200 quotes about golf and user reviews are highly positive.

Who’s On First

Alexa can deliver comedy routines now.

Alexa can deliver comedy routines now.

Image: Bettmann Archive / Getty images

Abbott & Costello’s “who’s on first” bit is one of the most famous comedy routines in history. Naturally, there’s an Alexa skill that allows you to hear it delivered in Alexa’s creepily detached robot cadence.

There isn’t much else to say about this one other than that virtual assistants should probably leave it to the professionals.

Ambient Sounds: Snoring

Alexa can simulate this experience for you.

Alexa can simulate this experience for you.

Image: Felix Hörhager/picture alliance via Getty Images

As a primarily sound-based piece of technology, Alexa’s skills marketplace is full of ambient noise generators. One of the more unusual ones is meant to simulate the sound of someone in the same room as you snoring through the night.

Not everyone likes the sound of snoring, but this could potentially make a room feel less lonely at night. Unfortunately, negative user reviews cited technical issues that made it less effective than it could have been.

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IKEA delays its smart blinds until later this year


IKEA

IKEA is delaying the launch of its smart blinds until later in 2019 in order to work on a firmware update. The Verge reports that the Swedish furniture maker pushed back the release date for the smart blinds, which were expected in Europe last month and in the US in April, because it found an opportunity for “improved functionality”. What kind of functionality, exactly? Mainly, the smart part.

IKEA said that the belated launch means that the smart blinds will be compatible with Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant right away, instead of in a later firmware update. Both the KADRILJ and FYRTUR smart blinds are attractive due to their low price; the KADRILJ starts at around $113 dollars and the FYRTUR starts at around $136 dollars, based on their European pricing. Some existing smart blind options such as Somfy or Velux start at twice that amount. The IKEA model lets owners draw their blinds at will or time them to close at a certain hour of the day with the TRÅDFRI smart home app. At present, only the FYRTUR blackout shades are expected to be released in the US.

There’s currently no information on an updated release date. The company plans for sales to start in Europe and the US sometime later in 2019.

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Alexa can do a lot more in your car with Echo Auto skills

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Every product here is independently selected by Mashable journalists. If you buy something featured, we may earn an affiliate commission which helps support our work.

Amazon's Echo Auto brings Alexa into the car.
Amazon’s Echo Auto brings Alexa into the car.
Image: bridget bennett / mashable

Amazon’s Echo Auto just skilled up. 

Developers can now make skills just for the Auto, which works with your phone or with some in-car infotainment systems. What’s it for? It’s basically an Alexa digital assistant device made specifically for the car. 

Amazon announced on Wednesday the new customizable skill-making for the car, which it argues is different from developing skills for a living room or kitchen space. Car skills will determine how each is designed and works, whether it’s a game or a news-reading app. 

Amazon doled out advice for those looking to create skills for the car, such as keeping responses quick, considering synchronization with Alexa outside the car or when first coming into the car from elsewhere, location awareness, and using voice only. 

Amazon released a developer guide, “Best Practices for Designing Alexa Skills for Automotive,” going deeper into skill design for drivers, passengers, and driving instead of the typical Alexa user in a house.  

Designing a skill for a car-only use-case is similar to a new trivia app made for commuters called Drivetime. It uses the same design principles to make it car-friendly, with long pauses, extended time for spoken answers, and a truly hands-free experience. Alexa developers are advised to limit any interactions with the Alexa app and Auto device — the Auto skills can’t be distracting because the user is behind the wheel.

The Echo Auto remains a fairly elusive car gadget — you can only get it through a waitlist-request system on Amazon. People are starting to wonder where it is. Today’s announcement about car-specific skills seems like a good sign that a wider rollout is coming soon.

It’s listed at 50 percent off and only $24.99 for now, but once it’s more widely available, it’s supposed to bump up to $50. The Echo Auto is also still lagging behind on its compatibility with other apps like Apple Maps and Waze, which the website still says will be “available later this year.” Apple Music is still “coming soon.”

As long as it works in the car, people are eager to get their hands on the newest Alexa device.

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Mesh WiFi startup Eero is now officially part of Amazon


Eero

Amazon has officially acquired Eero, the three-year old mesh WiFi startup based in San Francisco. Like other mesh WiFi systems, Eero’s routers can be placed throughout the home, allowing users to avoid the “dead zones” that can occur when relying on a single router.

Eero stressed in a blog post announcing the deal that its policy of not tracking customer’s internet activity would not change with the acquisition. It did note that customers without the Eero Plus subscription service, which can encrypt your traffic, will continue to have their information routed to Eero’s security partner, Zscaler. But the company did make it clear that “we do not have the capability, and never have, to collect any browsing data from Eero networks.”

The acquisition means that Amazon has further expanded its growing network of smart home devices. Amazon’s vast umbrella of Alexa-connected products now includes speakers, alarm clocks, devices just for kids, and a style assistant. Other Amazon products that rely on WiFi include Ring, the home security system of WiFi-enabled video doorbells, as well as Fire TV and the Amazon streaming services. In buying Eero, Amazon has cornered every level of the smart home system, selling consumers both the smart home devices and the routers that connect them. To entice new customers,, Amazon and Eero are offering $100 off on any of its second-generation devices, but only for today.

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Amazon expands program that pays developers for top voice apps to France, Italy & Spain

Amazon is expanding its program that directly pays Alexa developers in cash for building valuable, quality voice apps to new markets in Europe: France, Italy, and Spain. Originally launched in the U.S. in 2017 for those developers building game skills, the Alexa Developer Rewards program has since expanded to include a broader selection of Alexa skill categories, and later became available in top European markets, Germany and the U.K. as well as in Japan and India.

With the launch in France, Italy, and Spain, the Alexa Developer Rewards program will now offer payments to top skills in categories such as Education & Reference; Food & Drink; Games, Trivia & Accessories; Kids; Health & Fitness; Lifestyle; Music & Audio; and Productivity.

The program itself is one part of Amazon’s larger strategy around building out its ecosystem of voice applications, ahead of developers’ ability to generate sustainable income from their voice apps.

Though Amazon now offers developers other monetization tools like in-skill purchases, one-time purchases, and sales of physical goods, it could still be hard for some to make consistent income from voice apps without the additional direct support from Amazon. And without revenues to fund development, some might abandon their Alexa skills for other efforts.

So far, Amazon’s decision to invest directly in the developer ecosystem has been working.

Amazon’s Alexa Skill store today has the largest number of third-party voice apps, compared with rivals, having hit 80,000 skills as of last month following a holiday shopping season that saw a significant number of Alexa-powered devices sold. Its growth has come quickly, too, with the number of Alexa skills in the U.S. more than doubling over the past year.

Many of the popular Alexa skills so far have turned out to be voice-enabled counterparts to popular mobile apps – especially those that are audio-based, like music apps, spoken word, meditation apps, quizzes and games, and workout apps, for example.

But key to Alexa’s continued growth is ensuring that these sorts of voice apps are available in localized versions in key non-U.S. markets where smart speakers are growing in popularity. That’s a place where Google could have an advantage, thanks to Google Assistant’s advanced language capabilities, which includes support for a dozen some languages besides English, plus its multilingual abilities, support for interpretations, and more.

Amazon says it has paid out “millions” to developers based in over 20 countries since the 2017 launch of the Alexa Developer Rewards program. Developers don’t have to sign up for rewards – if the app qualifies, Amazon will email them.

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