If you've just introduced one of Amazon's Echo devices into your home and feel a little lost, you're not alone. The promises made by Amazon's virtual assistant Alexa are vast, and it's difficult to know where to start when you want Alexa to do something more than set a cooking timer or tell you tomorrow's weather forecast.
Aside from Alexa's basic features programmed by Amazon, there are thousands of Alexa skills to choose from; skills are features made by third-party developers that help Alexa do more than just the Amazon-sanctioned basics, and many of them integrate with other services, apps, and products. Each skill has to be enabled in the Alexa mobile app (or from your account on Amazon.com) before Alexa can use it.
Enabling a skill is almost like installing an app on a mobile device—simply enable a skill you want and Alexa will be able to use that skill until you disable it. There are more than 25,000 Alexa skills now, and while Amazon has improved the interface through which you can search for and discover skills, it's still not the easiest to work with. Here, we've outlined Alexa's main features and the best third-party Alexa Skills that you can enable now to use with Amazon's virtual assistant.