Wondrwall and Alexa in the Living Room

As of June, the number of Amazon Alexa skills available stands at 15,000 and counting. In addition to that, the growth in the number of skills being added each month has risen to a staggering 23%.

As Wondrwall is built on the Alexa platform, this means that the cool functionality you can access through your Wondrwall light switch is growing exponentially and includes a whole lot more categories than it did even 6 months ago.

It’s a tough job keeping up with Alexa’s latest whistles and bells but someone’s got to do it; We’ve taken it upon ourselves at Wondrwall HQ to do some rigorous and extensive research to uncover some of the niftiest skills out there at the moment and this time we’re concentrating on what Alexa can do for you in the living room.

A recent survey revealed almost 50 % of those buying voice controlled assistants did so primarily to get speedy access to news and information. Flash briefings are a great place to start and it’s easy to customise your briefings to hone them to exactly what you’re interested in. Our favourite news briefing was Sky News which is regularly updated, just the right length and nicely edited.  Sports fans can get flash briefings on their activity of choice – we liked the Formula One Flash Briefing – and you can even get a daily fix on events in Westeros via Daily Thrones.

You can use Alexa to stream music, podcasts, audiobooks and lots more. If you’re a Prime member you can access over two million free songs and Amazon Music Unlimited subscribers can listen to a catalogue of tens of millions of songs. Say “Play songs by [insert your favourite artist here].” Clearly here at Wondrwall, we say “Play Wonderwall by Oasis” and then “Turn up the volume”. However, if you’re not in the mood for music, you can always listen to you by saying “Read my kindle book”.

If you’ve managed to nab a bit of “me time”, good for you! You can use Wondrwall to get your living room all cosy and zen by asking it to raise the temperature to your preferred setting or recreate the spa vibe by using Wondrwall to control hue lighting and opting for a colour of your choice. There’s a whole host of ambient sound skills on Alexa and if you’re looking for help drowning out unwanted noise or getting the little one off to sleep, you’re spoiled for choice. Popular sounds include “babbling brook”, “fireplace” and even “vacuum” if that’s what floats your boat. If meditation is your thing try one of several guided meditation skills like Stop, Breathe and Think, designed to reduce the stresses of everyday life. Finally, to round off your “me time” and get you ready to face the world again, dip into a skill like Perk Me Up which will deliver you a fabulous compliment whether you deserve it or not!

Maybe it’s the morning after the night before and, while you’ve managed to navigate the kitchen and make yourself a coffee, you’re sprawled bleary-eyed on the sofa in need of reorientation. First call on Alexa for clarification of the date and time and any important appointments you’ve got scheduled that day, then bring yourself up to speed with the latest sports news. As you’re coming around, fire up your cerebral cortex with one of many trivia skills like Three Questions which tests you on, you guessed it, three questions on a range of topics from science to literature and culture. Once you’re feeling human again try Alexa’s Random Workout for a fun way to get your heartrate up and ready you for the rest of the day.

We had a lot of fun testing Alexa’s latest games and trivia offerings. If you’re child free for the night, Insult Generator is a guaranteed ice-breaker and, though not for the faint-hearted, there’s something inexplicably hilarious in being repeatedly insulted by Alexa. Deal or No Deal was popular with the Wondrwall team and the Categories Game is a hoot for parties and sure to uncover your most competitive guests.  For diehard fans of Joey Tribbiani et al, try Friends or Foe and find out who knows their left phalange from their moo point.

Our kids loved Animal Game which challenges Alexa to guess your chosen animal (she knows over 300), by asking a series of questions like “Does it fly?” and “Is it a predator?”. Older kids will enjoy The Wayne Investigation where they can head to Gotham and solve clues to solve the murder of Bruce Wayne’s parents Thomas and Martha. Finally, when you’re ready to wind down for the evening, what’s not to like about Alexa reading your little ones a personalised bedtime story? The Short Bedtime Story skill is VERY cute and parents will have to restrain themselves from trying their own names out in the stories too!