More than any other device, Alexa has become our closest approximation of artificial intelligence

Considering that it’s been barely four years since Alexa stepped into our homes, Amazon’s interactive voice service has already become a member of our families. Amazon’s voice assistant has a voice and personality, and if you ask the right question, it’ll even get sassy with you. Users even refer to the device as “she.” We usually prefer to say her name, rather than the name of the device itself, Amazon Echo.

Here is a sneak peek of the most popular requests to Alexa.


Alexa, start my day

You can set up a daily routine on your Amazon app so that when you say “Alexa, good morning” she will tell you things in order. For example, the weather, the traffic on your route to work, breaking news headlines, calendar appointments.

Set alarm and timer

There you are, comfortably tucked into bed, and the light is out. Certainly, you remember: you have to wake up at 5 AM for an early appointment. You’re not sure where your phone is, and you don’t feel like setting the alarm clock across the room, so ask Alexa.

You can also use the device in your kitchen (or anywhere else for that matter) to set multiple timers to help with cooking. You can name your times so you don’t get confused, too. A great helping hand.

Add events to calendar

Alexa is best known as a virtual assistant, and in many ways, interacting with her is sort of like having a secretary follow you around your living room, clipboard in hand, awaiting your next appointment. This is helpful if you’re forgetful, or you just have your hands full.


Your phone has a basic weather report, and with the weather apps, you can check precise meteorological patterns. If you’re sitting in your living room, just too far away from a phone or an open window, you can say, “What is the weather going to be like this afternoon?”


Science fiction has long anticipated a “universal translator,” and Amazon is working to make that dream a reality. Alexa can already translate dozens of languages, from Spanish to Hindi, thanks to its Translated skill.

Play a song based on lyrics

You’re pretty sure it’s a band from the Nineties. You can remember that the refrain goes something like, “the time of your liiiife.” But you have no idea what the other lyrics are, nor what the title is. With this skill, all you have to do is say, “Play the song that goes [lyrics].” Then she will say, “‘Roads’, by Portished,” and you may be shocked that you never knew the actual title.

Check notifications

You’ve just stepped out of a bath, and you don’t want to pick up your phone with wet hands. Or your eyes are weary and you just can’t bring yourself to look at another screen. If you’ve connected Alexa to your phone or another device, you can ask her to orate your notifications. 

Control home devices

Turning on your lights, setting the temperature and listening to music with your voice has become the norm. You can ask your digital friend to check on your garage door while you lay on the sofa. Make it part of your routine and you can confirm that the biggest access point to your home is secured when you tell your robot buddy good night. And if the door is open, have it closed, completely hands free.

Add things to the shopping list

Another handy way to use your new device is to add to your shopping list. So, if you are sat on your sofa watching TV and suddenly remember you are out of bin bags, you needn’t get up to find your pen and paper to make a note. Then, before you head out, just say “Tell me my shopping list”. You can even see this in your phone while you are actually in store.

Store hours

This can be as simple as a Google search, but you can also just ask Alexa the time your favorite stores open and close. She should know the nearest box stores, but you may have to specify the location of an independent business.

Sunrise and sunset

With fireworks displays and movies in the park, it’s nice to know when the sunsets ahead of time. You might also want to know when to take that predawn run. But this is especially useful when you travel, and sunrises and sunsets occur at unfamiliar times. You could say, “What is sunset tomorrow in London?”

Meal ideas

You’re not alone if you’ve run out of ideas for dinner. You’ve cooked the same meals over and over for so many years that your family knows exactly what to expect. Well, surprise them and yourself. Alexa can give you a recipe based on up to three ingredients that you have in the fridge and pantry. This skill can be activated by saying: “Please, open meal idea.”