Each week, we take a look at new and important Alexa skills you might want to consider enabling for your Alexa device. Amazon continues to improve Alexa with its own updates, but skills are software components that allow Alexa users to extend functionality across all Alexa-enabled devices in use for very specific functions.
Alexa is available for Amazon devices Echo, Echo 2, Dot, Tap, Echo Spot, Echo Plus, Echo Show, Echo Look, Echo Connect, Dash Wand, Amazon Cloud Cam, Fire tablets, and Fire TV, Amazon Fire TV Edition TVs, in the Music app, but also on iOS, Android, and the web with Reverb.ai.
This week’s skill: Down by the bay
Description: Come sing “Down by the Bay” in an interactive sing-along! When the song goes “have you ever seen a…”, you can suggest an animal name, and hear a song verse with a silly rhyme.
Real world use: With its quarterly revenue reports, Amazon also took the time to announce that there’s now over 30,000 skills available in the Alexa skills store. Yep…30,000. That’s quite a number. But, it suffers from the same thing as any mobile app store in that the majority of skills are unusable or so specific they can only be valuable to a small group of people.
So, that’s one reason why a column like this weekly one – which has been going on for almost forever (it seems) – is so important. We’ve become good at identifying, not only those that are rewarding, but also those that are unique enough to be both enjoyable and valuable.
This week’s “Down by the Bay” Alexa skill goes outside the normal skill and provides a fun, interactive experience for kids. Each of my kids has grown up with their favorite set of “kids” songs. Each has had their own CD that they would listen to as lullabies at night. But, one of the favorites that each kid adored was an album from Joe Scruggs called Late Last Night. That CD has been in our house so long and has been played so much that even my wife and I can sing along without missing a lyric.
And, that’s what the “Down by the Bay” skill reminds me of. Like Joe Scruggs, the author (Adam Varga) puts his vocal and guitar skills to use, but then unlike Joe Scruggs melds those with his developer skills to produce something that all kids and parents will appreciate.
Adam kicks off a round of his “Down by the Bay” song, and then pauses to allow listeners to insert a favorite animal. Then, through Alexa magic, the song continues and inserts the animal into the lyrics. The skill recognizes up to 70 different animals and Adam promises that if you provide feedback on ones he missed, he’ll add them.
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