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Smart Home

7 unusual Alexa skills you should try

Haven't you always wanted to listen to vintage radio broadcasts?

Tyler Lizenby

Alexa's library of third-party skills is now enormous — there are over 30,000 skills that range from insanely useful to downright dumb. You can control your lights or order pizza with your voice. Or you can request Alexa to play a fart sound or insult you.

Because there are so many, however, a lot of the gems get lost in the noise. Some skills may also sound weird or useless, but turn out to be really helpful. Below you'll find seven unusual Alexa skills that you should consider trying.

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Therapy

While Alexa won't (and shouldn't) replace your actual therapist anytime soon, the Therapy skill can help by letting you vent to your smart speaker. The skill will then try to determine how you are feeling and shower you with words of encouragement.

Just to clarify, this shouldn't be used as a replacement for or alternative to actual help. It also shouldn't be taken too seriously. But it's a great way to get some much-needed reinforcement on demand. Positive words, even when spoken by an artificially intelligent computer, can be helpful.

Vintage Radio

Have you always wanted to know what it was like to listen to radio before the dawn of TV? The Vintage Radio skill can bring the golden age of radio back into your life by pulling shows from the archives over at vintageradioshows.com

When Vintage Radio queues a new show, it will tell you the name of the show and the date it originally aired. You can also find the top 10 shows, play shows in sequence or at random.

Curiosity

Want to learn something new every day? The Curiosity skill will tell you random yet interesting facts. It's almost like going to Wikipedia and clicking Random article

When you first open the skill, Alexa will ask you which of two topics you are most interested in, such as fire tornadoes or aviation. When you choose one, Alexa will go in-depth on that topic for a few minutes before asking you to choose between two more topics until you're done with the skill.

It's very simple to use but easy to get lost in.

This Day in History

Much in the same vein as Curiosity, This Day in History, powered by the History Channel, will tell you all the historical events that occurred on that particular day of the year. While very concise, the skill is also very information dense. Once the skill has told you everything about the history of the current day, you can ask about other days of the year.

If you have kiddos around your home, informative skills like this are a great way to have them learn something new while having "fun" with the Alexa speaker. But, honestly, it's just a great, underrated skill you can use every day.

Tomato Helper

If you work from home or have the habit of studying for countless hours without moving before a big test, try the Tomato Helper skill. When sitting, it's best to get up every so often to promote healthy blood flow. It's also beneficial to productivity to take a short break every 30 minutes to an hour.

The Tomato Helper skill is essentially a Pomodoro timer. When it starts, it will begin a 25-minute countdown timer. After the time has elapsed, it will sound an alarm. To start the five-minute break, just say, "Alexa, next." Another alarm will sound. Say, "Alexa, next" to begin the next countdown.

Night Light

Despite having the now universally recognizable blue light ring, Alexa speakers don't come with a built-in night light function. That doesn't mean you can't add one, however. 

The Night Light skill (and many like it) allow you to use the light right as a night light. Just say, "Alexa, open Night Light." The light ring will light up and remain lit until you tell it to "stop." Or you can say, "Alexa, open Night Light for 10 minutes," for a 10-minute night light.

Just The Temperature

Alexa excels at giving you current weather conditions and forecasts. The Big Sky skill is even better than the native weather app, but sometimes you don't want an information overload when you just want to know the temperature. That's where the Just The Temperature skill comes into play.

When you say, "Alexa, open Just The Temperature," you will be given just the temperature. It's as simple as that.

Make sure to check out our ever-growing list of Alexa commands.

Also, check out the first skills you should enable on your new Alexa speaker.