- Smart home devices saw record sales during the 2018 holiday season, with Amazon’s Alexa-enabled devices leading the charge.
- Alexa is Amazon’s virtual assistant, capable of controlling an array of smart devices and executing unique tasks called “skills.”
- Since Alexa launched in November 2014, developers have created more than 70,000 skills for Alexa. Skills can range from games and trivia to meditation routines.
It’s been a big year for smart home technology, as more people adopt smart speakers, appliances, and other connected devices for everyday use. Amazon said the 2018 holiday season delivered record sales for smart home devices, and their own Alexa-enabled Echo smart speakers were among the most popular items.
Amazon’s Alexa is one of the few virtual assistants capable of managing a wide range of smart home devices, and after four years of development, users can now ask Alexa to perform more than 70,000 programmed tasks, which Amazon refers to as skills.
Alexa skills are basically apps you can control with your voice, and they help customers enhance and personalise their experience. Skills can help users learn something new, enjoying a new game, or be more productive at home.
As 2018 draws to a close, Amazon announced the top Alexa skills used in the U.S. during the last year. The list is comprised of the most popular, engaging, and innovative skills and spans across several categories, including games, wellness, daily habits, family-oriented, and more.
You can check out the list of the top skills below and find them on Amazon’s Skills of the Year page. You can also ask Alexa, “What are the skills of the year?”
Beat the Intro (Musicplode Media Ltd.)
Beat the Intro is a straight-forward music game. The goal? Simply guess the song title and artist as fast as possible.
Heads Up! (The Ellen DeGeneres Show)
Pick a category and Alexa will provide up to three fun facts and clues to help you guess the word – you’ll have 90 seconds to see how many you can get right.
National Geographic Geo Quiz (National Geographic Society)
Inspired by the legendary magazine, the National Geographic Geo Quiz puts your geography knowledge to the test.
Question of the Day (VoicePress.AI)
Every day, Question of the Day poses a new trivia question for you to respond to, from arts and entertainment to literature and science. Collect points and hear how others have answered.
Skyrim Very Special Edition (Bethesda Game Studios)
Skyrim Very Special Edition is a voice-based adventure game inspired by Bethesda Studio’s popular video game “The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.” Players choose their path and embark on quests to find orcs and other fantasy creatures.
The Magic Door (The Magic Door, LLC)
Like Skyrim, The Magic Door is an interactive adventure game with original stories. You can tell Alexa what choices to make as you explore a magical land with various regions, including a forest, sea, garden and castle. You will collect hidden items, solve riddles, and help magical creatures.
Trivia Hero (labworks.io USA)
A general knowledge race against the clock, Trivia Hero gives you 60 seconds to answer as many trivia questions as you can. You can play on your own or against up to 20 other people.
World Mathematics League (Shanthan Kesharaju)
World Mathematics League is a global level mathematics competition. Every day you will get a chance to contribute to your team’s score by solving simple maths questions.
Would You Rather for Family (Voice Games)
Would You Rather for Family is a basic game that asks players to make a choice between two lighthearted and silly situations.
Yes Sire (Volley Inc.)
In Yes Sire, the player takes on the role of a medieval lord and is presented with an ever-expanding array of difficult choices to run the kingdom and stay in power.
Animal Workout (For Jack & Jill)
Animal workout is a fun game designed to get kids and adults moving around like their favourite animals.
Chompers (Gimlet Media)
Chompers is a skill designed to help families build good teeth-brushing habits. The skill provides a two-minute routine in the morning and night to pass the time while brushing your teeth, and will commend you for staying consistent.
Kids Court (Pretzel Labs)
Kids Court teaches kids how the judicial system works by turning everyday situations into a mock case. Friends, siblings, and parents can take on the role of defendant, witness or prosecutor. Fictional Judge Lexy presides over Kids Court and provides rulings and sentences.
Lemonade Stand (Mark Einhorn)
Lemonade Stand focuses on careful listening, maths, money, business, understanding odds and chance statements, and managing expectations by owning a lemonade stand.
Sesame Street (Sesame Workshop)
Elmo from “Sesame Street” will talk about the letter of the day or play a good game of Hide & Seek, with silly sounds as clues to where he’s hiding.
Chop Chop (bondad.fm)
Chop Chop is a hands-free kitchen companion serving up fun, easy-to-follow tutorials for chopping fresh produce.
Fitbit (Fitbit, Inc.)
Fitbit owners can check their daily progress with Alexa. Ask if you hit your sleep goal, how you did yesterday, or just get a quick update on the fitness stats you care about the most.
Headspace: Guided Meditation for Everybody (Headspace)
Headspace helps you build a meditation practice that fits into your daily schedule with guided instructions, plus a sleep exercise to help you wind down.
Sleep and Relaxation Sounds (Voice Apps, LLC)
Sleep and Relaxation Sounds plays calming sounds on loop (from ocean sounds to rainforest sounds to white noise) to help you fall asleep faster, relax, meditate, or drown out distracting noises.
Find My Phone (opearlo)
Find My Phone allows you to easily call your lost phone from Alexa. While this skill was once free, opearlo is now charging $US2.49 per 10 calls. However, the first two calls to your missing device are still free.
AnyPod (Harrison Digital Media)
AnyPod lets you play nearly any podcast. Explore thousands of comedy, drama, music, tech, news, education, and pop culture audio programs from a variety of sources.
Big Sky (Philosophical Creations)
The Big Sky skill gives you hyper-local, hour-by hour forecasts.
Make Me Smart (Marketplace)
Get smarter in 2 minutes a day as Marketplace hosts Kai Ryssdal and Molly Wood tell you what you need to know about the economy, pop culture, tech, and current events.
TuneIn Live (TuneIn)
TuneIn Live brings a massive collection of thousands of live sporting events and premium news stations to your Alexa-enabled device.
Custom Q&A Blueprint (Skill Blueprints)
Finally, you can customise your own Alexa responses in just minutes with one of the most popular Alexa Skill Blueprints, with no coding required.