Alexa skills

Alexa Skills are voice-controlled capabilities that can be either used by downloading the Alexa app or giving voice commands to Amazon Alexa.

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To begin using Alexa Skills, you will need three essential things. First, you'll need an Amazon account, which will serve as your login credentials for accessing and using Alexa Skills. If you already have an Amazon account for services like or Amazon Prime, you can use the same account for Alexa.

Secondly, you'll need to download and install the Alexa app on your smartphone or tablet. The app is available for both iOS and Android devices and acts as a central hub for managing and enabling skills for your Alexa device. Through the app, you can browse the Alexa Skills Store, add skills to your device, and customise settings.

Finally, you'll need a smart speaker or an Alexa-enabled device. These devices are equipped with Alexa's voice assistant capabilities and allow you to interact with the skills you enable.

Once you have these three elements in place you can start exploring and enabling Alexa Skills. The Alexa app will be your go-to tool for discovering, adding, and managing skills, while the smart speaker or Alexa-enabled device will serve as the interface for interacting with Alexa and using the skills you've enabled. There are currently thousands of Alexa Skills available, ranging from simple games, trivia and bedtime stories to more complex services like ordering food and controlling smart home devices.

You can discover and enable new Skills by using voice commands to Alexa. Once a Skill is enabled, you can interact with your chosen Skill by asking Alexa to perform specific tasks or provide information. For example, you can ask Alexa to play music from your chosen artist, order a pizza from a favourite restaurant, get the latest news headlines, plan meals, create shopping lists, and find and read recipes to cook along with.

By using Alexa's virtual voice assistant, you can easily access information without needing to use a computer or other device.

What are Amazon Alexa Skills?

Alexa Skills are voice-controlled capabilities that can be either used by downloading the Alexa app or by using voice commands to Alexa, Amazon's digital assistant, which is available on Amazon's Echo devices and Echo speakers such as Amazon Echo, Amazon Echo Dot and Amazon Echo show and other standalone smart speakers.

These skills are essentially third-party apps that can be installed on the Alexa platform and allow people to interact with different services and content using voice commands.

How to search for Alexa Skills Store on Amazon?

You can search for Alexa Skills on the Amazon website or using the Alexa app on your smartphone or tablet. 

Here's how:

  • To access Alexa Skills, visit the website and log in to your account. You can use screen reader software or magnification tools to locate and interact with the "Departments" option in the top-left corner of the page and select "Alexa Skills" from the dropdown menu. This will take you to the Alexa Skills page where you can explore and enable skills for your Alexa device.
  • If you are using the Alexa app on your smartphone or tablet, then tap on the three lines in the upper left corner to open the menu. Tap on "Skills & Games" from the list of options and just like with Amazon’s website you can browse the available skills or use the search bar to find a specific skill that you are interested in.

Best Alexa Skills: Which are the UK Variety of skills to choose from?

There are thousands of Alexa Skills you can download to support your daily life, covering a wide range of categories. One of our favourites is the Guide Dogs for the Blind skill, which is a great support tool with the latest advice on how to look after your guide dog. 

To activate all the Skills, you have enabled say "Alexa" or press the button on your Echo device. Here is just a sample of some of the best Skills you can choose from:

  • Podcasts: Listen to podcasts such as AnyPod, a podcast player that allows you to listen to your favourite podcasts on your Alexa device using simple voice commands.
  • Control your smart lights, such as the Philips Hue, including turning them on/off, adjusting brightness, and changing colours.
  • Timers: Alexa comes with built-in timer and alarm capabilities, allowing you to set reminders or alerts with just your voice.
  • Amazon Music and Apple Music: Stream music with Alexa, including playlists, albums, and individual songs.
  • Spotify: Control your Spotify account with Alexa, allowing you to play, pause, skip tracks, and more.
  • Audible: Listen to audiobooks from Audible with Alexa, including new releases and bestsellers.
  • Heating: Through a smart thermostat such as Hive smart thermostat with Alexa, including setting temperatures, schedules, and modes.
  • Netflix: If you have a compatible smart TV or streaming device, you can use Alexa to control your Netflix account, including searching for content and controlling playback.

What are the best Alexa Skills for the visually impaired?

Alexa's voice interface makes it an ideal tool for accessing information and services without relying on visual cues. There are also a number of great Skills available for the visually impaired. Here are just a few examples:

  • Be My Eyes: This Skill connects visually impaired users with sighted volunteers who can provide assistance through live video chat.
  • Talking Kindle: This Skill allows you to listen to books on their Kindle device through text-to-speech technology.
  • Audible: This Skill provides access to a large library of audiobooks, which can be listened to through an Alexa-enabled device.
  • Voice Dream Reader: This Skill can read text from a variety of sources, including ebooks, PDFs, and web articles.
  • Seeing AI: This Skill uses artificial intelligence to provide information about the world. It can recognise objects, read text, and provide descriptions of people and scenes.
  • Ask My Buddy: This Skill allows you to send an alert to a designated contact in case of an emergency.

Frequently asked questions 

Did you know that there are many other tools and devices available that can help you navigate your needs with vision impairment?

Technically reviewed by: Subject Matter Experts on 02/11/2023

Guide Dogs is committed to integrating technology into our service delivery and promoting excellence in accessibility and usability. Our staff undergo comprehensive training in technology and accessibility in collaboration with industry leaders like Apple. We foster knowledge of technology and create content through our Technology Champions, comprising Vision Rehabilitation Specialists and Habilitation Specialists. We review this content periodically to ensure that it is up to date and includes new features and changes with operating systems. We work with our partners to ensure accessibility is at the centre of the design. To find out more, there is more information in our accessibility policy.

Whilst Guide Dogs may be able to suggest various third-party websites and third-party applications which may be able to assist you, those are not endorsed by Guide Dogs. Guide Dogs have no control over those third parties and cannot be held responsible for the accuracy of information and support they can provide or the suitability and quality of any products or services they provide.