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Alexa Tips and Tricks: May 2020

Welcome to the second monthly roundup of Keeping Up With Alexa. If you’re curious about the latest tips and tricks Amazon promoted for Alexa in May 2020, look no further. 

This month, Amazon released several promotional emails of new—or newly promoted—Alexa commands. Collectively, there were 82 commands in total. While that number alone is a lot to take in, I’ve listed a few of the most interesting and useful below. So go ahead, get the most out of your Amazon Echo Dot, Echo Show, and other Alexa-enabled devices by giving these a try. 

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Best Alexa Commands from May

The below are selected from Amazon’s promotional emails. While all are not brand new to Alexa, the commands are likely new to you and serve as the best of the bunch. If you’d rather see the full list to decide for yourself, check out each week’s Alexa commands.

Create your own Alexa Skill

As with April, the month of May largely consisted of many of us staying home to limit the spread of the Coronavirus disease. And for those of you who are married, this month’s close quarters could have brought on additional problems. For instance, have you ever argued with your spouse over chores, like whose turn it was to do the dishes? I know I have.

Fortunately, Amazon offered to help this month by newly promoting the ability to create your own Alexa Skill. Simply say, “Alexa, how can I create my own skill?”

When you use this command, Alexa tells you about Blueprints—a service where you quickly and easily create skills with Alexa. One such experience is with having Alexa keep a chore tally for you. By selecting “Whose Turn” from the list of available Blueprints and by completing a few quick steps, I’ve created my very own Alexa Skill. Now, remembering who did the dishes last is no longer a problem, thanks to Alexa. 

To learn more about adding specific behavior to Alexa that’s tailored to your needs, check out the Alexa Skills section on May 4th

Play games suggested by Alexa

If you’re a longtime user of Alexa, you may already know Amazon likes to have its Voice Assistant entertain you and your family with games. But the list of available options is small, making up barely 4% of all commands promoted in May. 

Finding new game commands that Alexa supports is a tall order. Fortunately, that’s where Alexa can help. To be matched up with a children’s game that you’ll actually want to play with your kids, say, “Alexa, let’s play a game for kids.” 

Discover new games with this command. You might just be paired up with my favorite game called “Lemonade Stand.” This Alexa Skill creates a classic lemonade stand business where you and your kids are asked to help set the scene. Not only will you be asked to provide how many cups of lemonade you’ll make, and how much each costs, but you’ll also be asked to shape the scene by choosing the weather and advertising sign.

So if you’re running low on your list of games to play with your kids during quarantine, rely on Alexa for suggestions. See the full walk-through in the Games section on May 11th.

Have Alexa read you poetry

Beyond children’s games, Alexa also offers self-reflecting activities to do as a family. One such activity is to listen to the works of Rudyard Kipling. 

For those of you who don’t know, Rudyard Kipling was an English author chiefly remembered for his collection of stories called “The Jungle Book.” And thanks to Disney’s 2016 live-action version, “Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle,” and its original 1967 animated version, Rudyard Kipling’s work still lives on. 

But beyond his children’s literature, Rudyard Kipling was also a gifted writer of poetry. And as it turns out, Amazon agrees. Alexa can now read you poems by Kipling all in her own voice. What’s more, if you have an Echo Show or Fire TV, Alexa displays the lines of poetry on screen to have you follow along with her. 

To experience this for yourself, say, “Alexa, tell me a poem by Rudyard Kipling.” While Amazon’s Voice Assistant has more ground to cover in reading long-form content, Alexa piques your interest nonetheless with her rendition. For instance, Alexa read me the poem “If–,” which I loved as it proves especially timely to mull over in today’s trying times. To learn more about this functionality, view the Reading section on May 18th

Celebrate holidays with Alexa

This month it seemed there was a barrage of holidays to celebrate. And Amazon kept up the pace with related—whether directly or indirectly—Alexa commands. 

Star Wars Day brought us the ability to train as a Jedi. Within nine lessons, Alexa levels you up to be one with The Force–even during the pandemic–guaranteeing you a few laughs in the process. To activate this interactive feature, say, “Alexa, May the Fourth be with you.”

For Mother’s Day—or any day for that matter—you can show your appreciation to mom via Alexa. Simply say, “Alexa, celebrate moms” for the Voice Assistant to play a cheerful tune and wish a great day to all the moms out there. It’s a cute command to nudge your kids to do, especially when mom is feeling frazzled with finishing up homeschooling during quarantine. 

And last but not least, Memorial Day topped off the holidays this month. As a hat tip to the day of remembrance, Amazon promoted the ability for Alexa to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner.” What’s impressive is it’s sung in her own voice. To hear for yourself and get into the red, white, and blue spirit, say, “Alexa, sing the National Anthem.”

Still grappling with interesting things to say or ask Alexa? Be sure to check out the entire roundup of Alexa commands.

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