From these skills, we can learn that people want to use their Alexa-enabled devices for the same basic functionality they use their phones (calling, texting, emails). I find this interesting because it suggests people wanting the convenience of digital devices, but without needing a screen or physical device. This break from “screen time” is also apparent in the Kids skill category, but it’s interesting to find it here too.
As we become more comfortable with voice interfaces (and as they get better), I suspect we will see more digital interactions become passive parts of our environment. We won’t pick up our phone to make a call or go on our computer to read an email. It will all be done from where we find it most convenient in the moment. And it will be done conversationally, the way humans evolved to consume information. I think the progress of music consumption illustrates a similar evolution: From concert to record players to boomboxes to portable music player to the on-demand music platform. It’s about making the media product available in the format desired by the consumer, wherever the consumer may be.
I did notice that the UK marketplace is still a bit bare in terms of popular 4+/5 rated Communication skills. It’s also curious that Mastermind has such a low rating compared to the US marketplace.
Mastermind by Convessa, Inc. – 🇺🇸 4.2 out of 5, 1516 ratings, 1231 reviews
🇬🇧 3.7 out of 5, 131 ratings, 68 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, 641 ratings, 630 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, 307 ratings, 42 reviews
This skill provides compliments to brighten your day, make you feel beautiful, and bring out your natural stunning smile!
Random review: i like it & find it amusing. (4 out of 5)
🇺🇸 Shared Thoughts by Fresh Squeezed Publishing – 4.2 out of 5, 181 ratings, 18 reviews
Ask her to share her thoughts and she will share her secrets, her ideas, or most personal thoughts.
Random review: Only time will tell if she has real intellect or is just a ghost in the internet. (5 out of 5)
🇺🇸 How to Say I Love You by SkillsDev – 4 out of 5, 287 ratings
Are you looking for different ways to express your love? or just want to spice up that love message? Besides saying “I love you”, this “How to Say I Love You” skill is to help you to express your love in different but meaningful and heart-touching ways.
🇬🇧 Call Handler by laldy – 4.2 out of 5, 29 ratings, 14 reviews
Call Handler rejects unwanted phone calls for you. It also play ‘on hold’ music – just like an expensive phone system, allowing you to step away from calls to find a pen and paper (or just make coffee!).
Random review: This skill is great for all those unwanted calls. I’ve tried this on a cold caller today and they soon put the phone down. The hold music I shall be trying with the next caller! would give this 5 stars if there were a lot more responses, and maybe categorised such as ones for car accident cold callers etc. All in all though, great skill skill will use more (4 out of 5)
🇬🇧 Newton Mail by CloudMagic, Inc. – 4.4 out of 5, 7 ratings, 3 reviews
Too busy or too lazy to open Newton and deal with your email? Just ask Alexa. The Newton skill ensures you stay on top of your emails without having to reach for your phone or computer.
Random review: It’s true that Newton costs money in the long run. But the amount of R&D they seem to do with that money makes it well worth it. I have used it since it started as CloudMagic and, although I have looked for other (free) options, I cannot find anything that matches it. The Alexa skill is a case in point. It is a lazy way of reading emails but, if you are on the sofa reading and your phone beeps, it’s a great way to just get info on who emailed you and whether it is worth putting the book down. Love it. (5 out of 5)