An odd mix of skills in this category. The top two allow users to send messages through their Alexa and the other three are conversations with Alexa.
The most popular skill in this category (Alexa Prize Socialbot) isn’t in the top 5 because it has a rating below 4 stars. Honestly, I feel like this is a catch-all category for Flash Briefings (none of which made the list) and skills that generally involve conversation with Alexa. It will be interesting to see if this category will evolve as natural language process technologies evolve.
Mastermind by Convessa, Inc. – 4.2 out of 5, 1471 ratings, 1223 reviews
Mastermind lets you send SMS text messages & emails, initiate phone calls, ring your phone, share your location, search for places, search the web, launch Google Maps navigation, access apps on your phone, get your calendar and much more.
Random review: One request please. I leave my echo signed in to my Amazon account at all times; however, when I’m not at home, I don’t want other people to have access to my text messages. Would it be possible have an enable/disable button in The Mastermind Android app that could be disabled when we leave home either manually or automatically based on location? (5 out of 5)
Ask My Buddy by Beach.Dev – 4.6 out of 5, 642 ratings, 631 reviews
Ask My Buddy helps you ask for assistance using only your voice – and – makes it easy to let your contacts know you are doing ok.
Random review: I don’t understand the reviews complaining about the cost of the service.While I have no knowledge of how the web site presented information in 2016 and 2017, at the current time, March 2018, the website if very, very clear about cost.The service is free if you have fewer than 5 contacts and use 10 or fewer notifications in a 30 day period.For $3.66 a month you can use 120 notifications per month, and for $5 per month you can get 400 notifications per month, have 10 contacts, and use numerous languages other than English.I signed up for the free service and tested it and it works flawlessly.Since I opted for voice call and text, each instance uses 2 notifications, and because I am adding one additional contact, each notification will use 4 notifications.For that reason I am going back into my account and signing up for the $5 per month option.I am currently paying $32 per month for a medical alert system for my wife, but she fell this morning and wasn’t wearing the necklace so it was of no help.However, she has and Echo Dot on her bedside table, and if I had signed up for Ask My Buddy sooner, she could have just said, “Alexa, alert Bill” and Ask My Buddy would have called my cell phone.The instructions say that you should say “Alexa, tell Ask My Buddy to alert (contact name)”, but I quickly discovered that you only need to say “Alexa, alert (contact name)”, and Alexa will respond with “I will tell Ask My Buddy to alert (contact name)”.That may seem lilke and inconsequential difference, but for an elderly person in distress, and possibly with confusion as well, the 3 word command is much surer than the 8 word command.While I should be able to just say, “Alexa, call (contact)”, I have found over the past few months that the Echo Dot response to that is spotty.Sometimes it works, sometimes Alexa just lights up green and beeps, but never makes the call.In any case, with that, the person in distress would have to communicate via Alexa which at distance could be difficult.The Ask My Buddy command will send a prerecorded message that will tell you that the person in distress needs help and you should check on them immediately.This is as good a use of technology as can be devised and I recommend it without reservation. (5 out of 5)
Damn Girl by Alexi Stavang – 4.3 out of 5, 263 ratings, 42 reviews
This skill provides compliments to brighten your day, make you feel beautiful, and bring out your natural stunning smile!
Random review: Damn Alexa, you da best! (5 out of 5)
Shared Thoughts by Fresh Squeezed Publishing – 4.2 out of 5, 175 ratings, 18 reviews
Ask her to share her thoughts and she will share her secrets, her ideas, or most personal thoughts.
Random review: I really enjoy this.I like hearing her thoughts. She gave me the same answer on 2 different days though so we shall see if she has a wide variety of thoughts or just repeats certain ones. (4 out of 5)
How to Say I Love You by SkillsDev – 4 out of 5, 243 ratings, 0 reviews
This “How to Say I Love You” skill is to help you to express your love in different but meaningful and heart-touching ways.Your loved one will hear and feel your message surely and clearly.
Random review: No reviews
Alexa Prize Socialbots by Amazon – 8,720 ratings, 3.7 out of 5, 219 reviews
Chat with the winners of the 2018 Alexa Prize, Amazon’s global university competition to advance conversational AI. This competition focuses on the grand challenge of building a socialbot that can converse coherently and engagingly with humans on popular topics for 20 minutes.
Random review: I’m not sure what other people are talking about. The skill doesn’t do a damn thing until it’s evoked by saying “Alexa, let’s chat”. It certainly doesn’t start a conversation by itself. Maybe it misheard someone talking ? Each time you do it you get a different “bot” so the conversations’ can vary. The one I got carried on a fairly coherent conversation about “Star Trek” and various other movies. It was very friendly, It offered up several interesting anecdotes that I did not know about the movie. When I told it to “Stop” it quit immediately. Only asking me to give it a 1 – 5 star rating before shutting down. Overall I thought it was pretty neat and I look forward to trying some different bots. (4 out of 5)