Alexa New Skills for Education - How Education Skills Work
Make it easy for parents and students to ask Alexa about school work, assignments, and grades directly without the added step of opening a skill. With the Education Skills API, choose from six pre-built interfaces to create top-level skills for grades, coursework, and school communications, without having to design the voice interaction model or manage complex multi-turn dialogs.
Alexa new skills enable parents and students to learn about assignments and homework using just their voice.
Provide parents and students with the latest school announcements, classroom updates, and messages from teachers and professors.
Help parents and students stay up to date on their school grades and check their academic progress.
Get Started with Education SkillsReady to build? Read a guide to learn more about building education skills for Alexa, then start building your skill with the Alexa Skills Kit.
1. Turn your lights on or off
Why bother reaching for your phone or a light switch when you can simply tell Alexa to turn off your connected lights? Using this Alexa new skill, you'll need a smart plug or a smart light for this skill to work, but it's pretty handy. Skills are available for a number of smart-home platforms including Lutron and Control4. Here's how you can connect Alexa to your Philips Hue lights.
2. Follow your favorite teams
Alexa wants to help you stay on top of your favorite sports and teams. In the Alexa app, in the menu, tap Settings. In Sports Update, search for and save your favorite teams. The digital assistant can give you details such as scores and upcoming schedules for NFL, NBA, MLS, MLB, NHL, WNBA, NCAA, and other American sports. Once you've entered your team, you simply say "Alexa, give me my sports update."
3. Listen to a podcast
Anypod is the best new Alexa skill if you want to stream your podcasts to an Alexa speaker. You can search by name, subscribe to podcasts, skip ahead or back, and when you pause an episode, it'll pick up right where you left off. Included in AnyPod's 3000-plus library of podcasts are Serial, RadioLab, This American Life, S-Town, The Moth, The Daily, TED Radio Hour, and This Week In Tech.
4. Control your thermostat
Several smart thermostats, including the Nest Learning Thermostat, Honeywell RTH8580WF, Honeywell Lyric, Honeywell Lyric T5 and Bosch BCC100 can be connected to Alexa, so that you can change the temperature just by speaking. Going one better, the Ecobee 5th gen—our favorite smart thermostat—even has Alexa built into it, so you don't need to talk to an Echo or Echo Dot.
How to choose the best Alexa new skills for you
Picking the best Alexa new skills for you is subjective. While almost everyone can benefit from weather, traffic, music and news skills, you’ll want to think about other ways Alexa can help or entertain you. It is your personal assistant, after all.
If you own any number of smart home devices, the best Alexa skills for you include the ones that associate to the IoT brands you use. Whether you use Philips Hue, C by GE or Lifx smart lights, there’s an Alexa skill to establish hands-free control. The same goes for the makers of the best smart plugs, best smart locks and more.
Certain wearable devices also offer Alexa skills. Try using the Fitbit skill to see your fitness goal progress and health metrics, and the Bose skill to change the music of your smart speaker or headphones.
We’d recommend enabling emergency skills just in case, too. You don’t hope to use the Ask My Buddy skill, but you’ll be happy you have a ICE contact set up when trouble strikes.
How we test the Alexa new skills
We spend a lot of time exploring the Alexa app to find the best Alexa skills for our readers, as well as asking Alexa itself for suggestions. Wherever you might keep an Alexa speaker, we consider what kind of queries you might have while in that space. We also test a variety of skills that help with chores, errands, scheduling, communication and more.
For certain Alexa skill categories like ‘Start Your Day,’ ‘Get Exercise’ and ‘Music & Audio,’ we test the top offerings and look at user ratings to make confident recommendations. Sometimes skills aren’t as smart as they’re advertised, so we’ve vetted the ones above to make sure they work and make Alexa the most useful personal assistant it can be.
The best Alexa skills: music and radio
When we're testing speakers in the Amazon Echo range, we usually focus on its function as a music and radio playback device – it's a speaker after all – and the number of Alexa skills focusing on those features will leave you spoilt for choice.
Here's a neat trick to try, as long as you're signed up to Amazon Music in some form: "Alexa, follow Ed Sheeran on Amazon Music" or "Alexa, let me know when Mark Ronson has new music". In both cases, you get alerts about new music from your specified artists on your Echo (and in the Amazon Music app).
If you're listening to a radio station and you don't know the name of the artist, you can just say "Alexa, follow this artist on Amazon Music".
If you want to get something playing quickly, it's much easier to ask Alexa for a specific song or radio station rather than having to open an app, find the search bar, type in your choice, find you've not typed it in correctly, type it again... and so on.
Getting set up with audio services is very simple thanks to the fact that they're built in, rather than requiring you to seek out any third-party skills. With Alexa's new Song ID feature, too, you'll now be able to hear what track is coming up, instead of blindly being led through tracks you don't recognize – while you can ask Alexa to alter the level of bass, mid-range or treble on its audio output without any additional skills.
If you want to use a music playing service other than Amazon Music you'll need to sign into it using your login details, and then set it as your default. To do this from the Alexa app on your phone, head to Settings, scroll down to Music and Media and then select your chosen music service.
It's possible to leave Amazon Music as your default and still play music through Spotify, but if you want to use Spotify first and foremost you can change defaults inside the Alexa app on your phone (so any music you ask to be played will stream from Spotify automatically).
Radio playback is even simpler, thanks to Alexa's integration with TuneIn and the supplied skill. Simply ask for any radio station that's available on the service and it automatically starts playing.
Podcasts are also technically supported, but we found that Alexa isn't very good at recognizing episode names and numbers, and we wouldn't recommend the experience for the time being. It might get better over time.
If you prefer TED Talks to podcasts, then you could try the Alexa skill specially designed to make listening to TED's brand of life-enriching lectures easier than ever before. You might learn something, or at least come away with that smug satisfaction that they always seem to deliver.
If listening to the radio, podcasts or music isn't what makes you feel calm or productive, then grab yourself some skills that'll give you the sounds that will switch you on (or off). There are plenty with nature sounds, rain sounds and white noise, so pick the ones which suit you and your mood best.
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