Believe it or not, Alexa is at your side in many instances. At home, she listens to you on Amazon speakers and displays like the Echo and Echo Dot, Echo Studio, or Echo Show 5. You can even interact with her in the garden on compatible mobile speakers like the Sonos Move. When you are on the move, she is always available on your smartphone if you have the Alexa app for Android or iOS installed. On mobile devices that have the “Alexa Built-In” badging, it can even be used “hands-free”, i.e. without having to launch an app or to press a button. You can do this with the OnePlus 8, Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro, or Sony Xperia 1, for instance.
How to use the best voice commands and skills for Amazon Alexa
Alexa can do some things well right out of the box. There are also other things that you can teach her by activating skills in the Alexa app. You can find them there by pressing “More” followed by “Skills and Games”. Once you’ve found the right one, press “Activate for use” in the individual view. Alexa will then learn how to play Spotify music for you, operate a robot vacuum cleaner, or perhaps even order you a pizza so that you don’t end up starving.
Before you provide a voice command, you will first have to make the digital assistant aware of your presence. In order to do this, you must always say the activation word, which is her name by default, i.e. “Alexa”. On Echo speakers, you can alternatively replace it with “Amazon”, “Echo” or “Computer” as the activation. Only on the smartphone will it always remain as “Alexa”. When the microphone hears this activation word, the software will process your subsequent request in the Amazon cloud and furnish you with information or perform an operation on the corresponding device. This applies both to Alexa capabilities that are available built-in as well as via retro-fitted skills.
Below is an overview of the best voice commands and skills for Amazon Alexa, organised according to the category. Please click on the respective category to jump directly to the right paragraph:
- Music and Podcasts
- Smart Home
- Games and puzzles
- Fall asleep and wake up
- Recipes and delivery services
- Calls and announcements
All that you want to do is to listen to the news, and not some commercial-laden radio channel? If that is the case, then the “Daily Summary” feature is ideal for you. It plays several news broadcasts one after the other. You will have full control in the Alexa app for the ones that will be played, as well as the order in which they will be played. You will need to select “More”, “Settings” and “Daily Summary” to get started. You can also add or remove existing skills from the summary using a slide switch. To change the order, select “Edit”, then choose and hold the skill entry of your choice by dragging it to the desired position. If the list is still empty, you can select compatible news skills via “Add content”. Other choices that are available will be shown, for example, from NDR Info, Wetter Online, NTV, Wikipedia, Tagesschau and Sportschau, Deutschlandfunk and ZDF, as well as many others (take note that the choices listed depend on your geographical location). Once your selection is set, you can launch it with the following Alexa voice commands:
- “Alexa, play my daily recap.”
- “Alexa, what’s the news?”
You can also ask Alexa for more up-to-the-minute information – without even bothering with the summary or separate skills. There’s a lot that the voice assistant already knows on its own. For example, you can ask or request of her:
- “Alexa, how is the Dax?”
- “Alexa, how did Werder Bremen play?
- “Alexa, tell me the lottery results.”
- “Alexa, what is the share price of Apple?”
- “Alexa, what is the Bitcoin price for today?”
Alexa will inform you of the weather conditions in your area if you leave your address in the app. You can do so by going to “More,” “Settings,” and “My Locations.” Of course, you can also ask her for the weather forecast of your destination in the near future. Several recommended Alexa voice commands for the weather are:
- “Alexa, what’s the weather like?”
- “Alexa, what will the weather be like for the next seven days?”
- “Alexa, will it rain tomorrow?”
- “Alexa, will it snow in Munich this weekend?”
- “Alexa, do I need an umbrella in Hamburg the day after tomorrow?
The digital assistant does not need an additional skill to provide such information. Nevertheless, it makes sense to install some if you want a second opinion or are looking for more specific meteorological forecasts. Corresponding general skills are available, for instance, from WetterOnline and Wetter.com. The “Weatherproof” skill advises you as to which clothes to wear. “Air Matters” informs you of the air quality index. And the Lake Constance water temperature, for example, is available from the skill of the same name.
Nobody likes traffic jams and getting stuck in gridlock. Alexa helps you with route planning and navigation. In order for Alexa to give you the most accurate information possible, such as the commute time, for instance, you must first let her know your home and work address. You can do this in the Alexa app under “More”, “Settings” and “Traffic”. With smartphones that support “Alexa Built-in”, you can also navigate hands-free on the go. But you’ll need to share your GPS location data with the app to do so – something which some people might not be too comfortable with. Great Alexa voice commands include:
- “Alexa, what’s the traffic situation?”
- “Alexa, what’s my commute time?”
- “Alexa, what’s the traffic like in Hanover?”
- “Alexa, how far is it from Bremen to Rostock?
- “Alexa, how long is the route to Bonn?”
- “Alexa, open Google Maps.”
- “Alexa, navigate me home.”
- “Alexa, where is the nearest supermarket?”
You don’t need to activate any additional skills for the above information. If, on the other hand, you want to know where you parked your connected car, skills from Mercedes and Skoda, for example, will be able to help. You can plan your journeys by train or public transport with skills from Deutsche Bahn or simply asking, “When will the bus arrive?”
You want to enjoy your favourite song or podcast right this very moment? Alexa voice commands will help you locate it faster than an app menu. In addition to Amazon Music, Alexa also supports streaming services such as Apple Music, Apple Podcasts, Deezer, and Spotify. She is able to control audio playback from Audible, too. She can call up radio stations from TuneIn or the ARD audio library, for example.
Alexa doesn’t need any extra knowledge for in-house services Amazon Music and Audible. You will have to teach her the voice commands of all the other audio services with skills and also connect to the respective user accounts. This can be done in the Alexa app via “More”, “Settings”, “Music and Podcasts”. From there, you can also set your preferred default service. Once that is done, you control everything with your voice as follows:
- “Alexa, play music.”
- “Alexa, play music for yoga.”
- “Alexa, play something I can relax to.”
- “Alexa, play music for cooking.”
- “Alexa, play music from the ’80s.”
- “Alexa, play Deutschlandfunk Nova.”
- “Alexa, play Beyonce’s new album.”
- “Alexa, search ‘Thinking About You’ by Calvin Harris.”
- “Alexa, play a rock station.”
- “Alexa, play tech house.”
- “Alexa, play my dance playlist.”
- “Alexa, play ‘crime’ on Apple Podcasts.”
- “Alexa, turn down / up.”
- “Alexa, continue / next song / stop.”
Most smart home tech can be controlled via Alexa voice commands. For devices that do not appear under the Amazon brand, you will always need a skill. This applies to smart lighting from Philips Hue and radiator thermostats from Tado, as well as wireless speakers from Sonos, household appliances from Samsung, or vacuum cleaners from Roborock, in addition to surveillance cameras and a home cinema universal remote control from Logitech. You won’t need their manufacturer apps to start, stop, or adjust certain operational settings on a day-to-day basis. Your voice alone is enough:
- “Alexa, change the bedroom lights to orange.”
- “Alexa, set the brightness in the kitchen to 60 percent.”
- “Alexa, turn on / off the light in the living room.”
- “Alexa, set the living room temperature to 22 degrees.”
- “Alexa, turn on the TV.”
- “Alexa, tell Roborock: ‘vacuum’.”
- “Alexa, play meditation music in the bedroom.”
- “Alexa, ask Samsung: ‘What is the remaining time on the dishwasher?'”
- “Alexa, light up the front door.”
Give yourself a break in between games, brainteasers, or puzzles. Alexa is a great game partner. She has a few ideas right out of the box. For additional distractions and quizzes, in particular, install Skills. For any of the following voice commands that require it, Alexa activates the necessary skill on its own.
- “Alexa, play Snick, Snick, Snick.”
- “Alexa, start Akinator.”
- “Alexa, start Brain Jogging.”
- “Alexa, what’s the puzzle of the day?”
- “Alexa, open TIME Quiz.”
- “Alexa, open True or False.”
- “Alexa, open ‘I’m Bored’.”
- “Alexa, let’s play ‘Who Am I’?”
- “Alexa, start ‘Advertising Guess'”
Getting a good night’s sleep and waking up at the proper time is important to start the next day fighting fit. Alexa can help you relax more easily when you go to bed in the evening and get out of bed in a good mood in the morning.
- “Alexa, play ocean sounds / rain sounds”.
- “Alexa, turn this off in ten minutes.”
- “Alexa, wake me up every day at six in the morning to rock music.”
- “Alexa, set my alarm for eight in the morning with NDR Info from TuneIn.”
“What’s for dinner today?” is a challenging question when you spend a lot of time at home. Alexa can help you prepare a good meal by giving you step-by-step recipes for specific dishes or ingredients. And, if you want to keep the kitchen clean without having to get rid of grease, she can also order pizza or other treats from various delivery services for you.
Alexa very often uses third-party skills for this. But you don’t have to explicitly activate all of them beforehand. The assistant can also retrieve recipes from a cooking portal, for instance. By the way, Alexa can then offer to send detailed instructions to your smartphone. Again, online delivery services like Domino’s and Lieferando require not only an activated Skill, but also your customer account in order to order your favourites.
- “Alexa, find me a broccoli recipe.”
- “Alexa, how do I make pizza?”
- “Alexa, how do you cook the perfect egg?”
- “Alexa, what vegetable is in season?”
- “Alexa, ask ‘Meal!”https://www.nextpit.com/”Chef”https://www.nextpit.com/”Chef”https://www.nextpit.com/”KptnCook’ what you want me to cook.”
- “Alexa order pizza from Domino’s / Lieferando” (Requires a customer account).
If you have access to multiple Echo speakers, they offer you a handy function as an intercom. Amazon calls this “Drop In”. With an Alexa voice command, you will be able to establish a connection from one speaker to another. No one single speaker has to accept the call explicitly – and contact will be established immediately. This works across multiple Echo devices in a household as well as between different households. This makes it possible to call your family for dinner as easily as it is to check up on your grandparents who live further away.
Before this can happen, however, a one-time drop-in authorisation must be created for each speaker involved. To do this, go to “Devices” in the Alexa app and then select the respective device under “Echo and Alexa”. In its settings, you activate the corresponding options under “Communication” and “Drop In”.
If you simply need an announcement without a direct, immediate response, you can use the text and voice message function instead of “Drop In”. You only have to set this up once and synchronise it with your contacts. This can be done in the Alexa app under “Communication”. The appropriate voice commands are then:
- “Alexa, drop in living room / bedroom / nursery”.
- “Alexa, send a (voice) message to mom.”
- “Alexa, play my messages.”
How helpful do you find Amazon Alexa in everyday life and what tips do you have for other Alexa users? Tell us about your favourite voice commands and skills in the comments!