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The best apps and skills for the Echo Show family
To some, Amazon’s first Echo smart displays might have seemed like an expensive gimmick — it’s not like smart speakers were inherently missing something. But a few years on, the Echo Show lineup has expanded considerably, in no small part because of a variety of apps and skills that take advantage of the format. These are some of the best ones you should be using.
Read more: How to use Amazon Alexa
Skype and Zoom
One of the more obvious benefits of a smart display is video calling, which used to be the stuff of science fiction, but for many of us has become integral to daily life. Beyond meetings and interviews, it’s how friends and loved ones keep in touch from thousands of miles away. Putting the technology on an Echo Show can be freeing, simply because you no longer have to hold up a phone or sit in front of a computer. The cameras on a few recent models (like the upgraded Echo Show 8) can follow you as you walk around a room.
Though Amazon has its own video calling platform, it’s limited to people with an Echo Show or the Alexa app. Skype and Zoom work across a broader number of platforms, and are de facto in some business and social circles.
You’ll have to sign up for the services elsewhere. Once that’s done, though, it’s relatively easy to log in and make calls. You can ask Alexa to call anyone on your Skype contact list, while Zoom takes advantage of Alexa calendar integration to join meetings automatically with the phrase “Alexa, join my Zoom meeting.” You can also hop into meetings manually, although it’s less than ideal given that you can’t enter alphanumeric meeting IDs.
If you want to watch the news and not just hear it, Reuters Now is one of the best options on an Echo Show. The news agency offers five minutes worth of headlines updated throughout the day.
There are two ways to trigger Reuters Now on an Echo Show. The first involves making it a part of your Flash Briefing using the Alexa app. That lets you combine it with other news sources, such as NPR, and run everything in order with the command “Alexa, play my Flash Briefing.” Alternately, you can just say “Alexa, play Reuters Now,” and your Show should start streaming the latest update.
If there are any complaints, it’s that Reuters doesn’t change its stories much until the next day, and that the last headline in each update is sometimes a fluff piece.
A smart display might not seem like the best way to watch movies or TV, and certainly David Lynch would agree. But if you like falling asleep to video, or putting something on while you work in the kitchen, office, or garage, an Echo Show can be the most cost-efficient option. A Show is certainly better for the bedroom than a TV if you want to avoid disturbing sleeping partners.
Netflix comes preloaded on Echo Shows, so all you have to do is swipe down from the top of your screen, tap Video, then Netflix. If you’re not already signed into your subscription, you’ll be prompted to enter your login.
Wyze’s security cameras are popular for the simple reason that they’re cheap and often just as good as cameras three times the price. With the Wyze skill enabled, you can stream video from any of your Wyze Cams on an Echo Show, the one exception being the Wyze Cam V1. You’ll need the Wyze mobile app to view cloud recordings, use intercom features, or manage settings.
The skill also links Alexa with other Wyze accessories, such as bulbs, plugs, and locks. But it’s cameras that steal the Show, so to speak — a Wyze Cam and an Echo Show 5 would make for a great baby monitor, or just a way of watching your doorstep for that expensive delivery.
An Echo Show offers recipes you can follow without getting grubby hands all over your phone or tablet, although you’ll probably need to wipe off your Echo at some point. Before you start, make sure you have a well-stocked pantry.
Whenever you’re ready, asking Alexa to “show me a recipe for [blank]” will by default display content from the Food Network, Recipedia, or Allrecipes. You can say something like “Alexa, ask Recipedia for a [blank] recipe” to choose a specific service. Search Amazon’s skill directory for additional recipe sources.
With the default services, you’ll get a list of ingredients, and buttons to start instructions or add items to your shopping list. At least some recipes are available as videos, though there should also be step-by-step text instructions in case you want to avoid pausing repeatedly.
Sadly, Food Network Kitchen subscribers can no longer access “premium” content on Echo Shows as of July 12, 2022. Recipes from the service will still work.