Your Amazon Echo has been on your countertop for, oh, six months at least. But for the most part, you’re still using Alexa only for the basics: checking in on the weather and listening to music. Still, there are a lot more ways you could be putting this little digital assistant to work.

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Courtesy of Amazon

She Can Recap the News

Amazon calls it a flash briefing—aka you can hear daily (and quickie) updates on top stories from news outlets ranging from NPR to PureWow. To enable your flash briefing, open your Alexa app, then tap the Skills section in the left-hand drop-down menu to see a list of brands offering daily updates. (Click here to activate Good News from PureWow.) Now you’re totally up to speed.

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Or Tell Your Kids a Bedtime Story

Maybe you’re too tired to rattle off Good Night Moon for the umpteenth time. Enable the Short Bedtime Story skill and say, “Alexa, tell a bedtime story to Stella,” and she’ll connect to your account and start reading a classic in your place. 

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She Can Talk to Your Cats

Feel guilty leaving your feline friends home alone all day? Meow makes kitty sounds (purring included) to keep them company. To activate, simply say: “Alexa, meow meow.”

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And Tell You Your Horoscope

Daily, monthly, weekly—you choose how often you want it dispatched. Set up the skill (it's called My Horoscope), input your birth month and start getting routine updates on what the stars have in store. 

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She Can Decipher Board Game Rules

What's the actual role of the banker in Monopoly? And who really takes the first turn in Scrabble? With the Board Game Answers skill, Alexa can weigh in on common questions about the rules of classic games. (She currently knows just a handful of games, but more are added all the time.)

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She Can Order You a Car Service

Alexa syncs with both Uber and Lyft, which means that you can use voice commands to request a pickup when you’ve got your hands full. You while applying mascara: “Alexa, ask Lyft to call a ride.”

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She Can Help You Whip Up Dinner

This trick is as basic as asking: “Alexa, how many cups in a quart?” Or requesting that she set a timer for eight minutes—the approximate time it takes pasta to boil. Think of her as your digital sous chef when you simply don’t have a hand to spare.

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