Alexa can do many genuinely useful things. She can call you an Uber, order you a mediocre pizza, or turn your smartshoes on and off. She even has some witty repartee built right in. But sometimes, all you want is to shut out the world, throw on some Zubaz pants, and have Alexa read you some Sartre. These are the Echo skills for your alone times.

01

Make Spotify or Pandora the Default Player

First, some appropriate mood music. If you have Amazon Prime, you also have access to Amazon Prime Music. That doesn’t do you any good if your playlists and stations are on another service. To fix that, visit Settings in the Alexa app, tap Music & Media, and select the default service of your choice—Spotify, Pandora, TuneIn Radio, and iHeartRadio are all in there.

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First, some appropriate mood music. If you have Amazon Prime, you also have access to Amazon Prime Music. That doesn’t do you any good if your playlists and stations are on another service. To fix that, visit Settings in the Alexa app, tap Music & Media, and select the default service of your choice—Spotify, Pandora, TuneIn Radio, and iHeartRadio are all in there.

02

Make Some Drinks

Next, a stiff drink. Whiskey works, but you can also get all “mixologist” up in heah. The Bartender covers more than 10,000 drink recipes. If tequila is more your speed, enable and use the new Ask Patron skill. It recommends drinks, serves up margarita recipes, and knows a bunch of agave-themed trivia.

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Next, a stiff drink. Whiskey works, but you can also get all “mixologist” up in heah. The Bartender covers more than 10,000 drink recipes. If tequila is more your speed, enable and use the new Ask Patron skill. It recommends drinks, serves up margarita recipes, and knows a bunch of agave-themed trivia.

03

Lock Yourself In Your Home

Eliminating distractions is tough when you live next door to Kramer. Now you can lock the world out with your voice. August Smart Lock recently announced its own Alexa skill, making it the first lock you can yell at to operate. Obviously, you’ll need the $200 lock for it to work, but that’s a small price to pay for never having to leave the couch.

Josh Valcarcel/WIRED

Eliminating distractions is tough when you live next door to Kramer. Now you can lock the world out with your voice. August Smart Lock recently announced its own Alexa skill, making it the first lock you can yell at to operate. Obviously, you’ll need the $200 lock for it to work, but that’s a small price to pay for never having to leave the couch.

04

Use Alexa as a Shrink

With a skill called Therapy, you can complain about your day to Alexa and get semi-useful words of encouragement in return. You tell Alexa you’re sad, and it responds “Don’t be sad, turn your frown upside-down.” You tell Alexa you’re mad, and it responds “I’m sorry to hear that.” Don’t expect any therapeutic breakthroughs—you get what you pay for.

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With a skill called Therapy, you can complain about your day to Alexa and get semi-useful words of encouragement in return. You tell Alexa you’re sad, and it responds “Don’t be sad, turn your frown upside-down.” You tell Alexa you’re mad, and it responds “I’m sorry to hear that.” Don’t expect any therapeutic breakthroughs—you get what you pay for.

05

Play a Game of Spoken-Word Baseball

Rolling solo doesn’t mean you have to resort to Solitaire or Shut the Box for some entertainment. A weird skill called Robot Roxie loosely simulates the act of playing baseball. Tell it to pitch the ball. Then say “Home run.” Man, you’re probably the best voice-hitter in the bigs.

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Rolling solo doesn’t mean you have to resort to Solitaire or Shut the Box for some entertainment. A weird skill called Robot Roxie loosely simulates the act of playing baseball. Tell it to pitch the ball. Then say “Home run.” Man, you’re probably the best voice-hitter in the bigs.

06

Play a Game of Jeopardy!

Word-baseball isn’t much of a challenge. It’s time to hand things over to Alexa Trebek. This spoken-word Jeopardy! game uses actual questions (and sound effects) from the show, and you get a fresh set of five questions every day. No cash prizes, unfortunately.

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Word-baseball isn’t much of a challenge. It’s time to hand things over to Alexa Trebek. This spoken-word Jeopardy! game uses actual questions (and sound effects) from the show, and you get a fresh set of five questions every day. No cash prizes, unfortunately.

07

Freak Yourself Out

The Listeners is weird by design. It started as a sound installation in a giant crate, and it says things like “We are always listening… All these things that you have asked to know, correlate with our primary purpose, to represent, in a normalized form, the most frequently expressed, and potentially most profitable, human desires.” You can ask it to continue or go hide in a shed.

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The Listeners is weird by design. It started as a sound installation in a giant crate, and it says things like “We are always listening… All these things that you have asked to know, correlate with our primary purpose, to represent, in a normalized form, the most frequently expressed, and potentially most profitable, human desires.” You can ask it to continue or go hide in a shed.

08

Audio Pug-Bomb Yourself

You may know Pug Bomb from your favorite chat bot. You request some pugs, and it delivers good photos of pugs. This is an audio version of that. You ask for some pugs, and Alexa describes them. Like, “Here’s a pug whose mouth is stuffed full of french fries,” and “This pug is wearing slippers that look like pugs,” and “This pug is staring eagerly at a cookie.” It’s pretty great.

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You may know Pug Bomb from your favorite chat bot. You request some pugs, and it delivers good photos of pugs. This is an audio version of that. You ask for some pugs, and Alexa describes them. Like, “Here’s a pug whose mouth is stuffed full of french fries,” and “This pug is wearing slippers that look like pugs,” and “This pug is staring eagerly at a cookie.” It’s pretty great.

09

Play the Name Game

This skill does this: You say a name or a word, and it does the whole “name game” spiel with it. Reynolds Reynolds bo-benolds, banana-fana-fo-fenolds, fee-fi mo-menolds, Reynolds. That’s all it does. (Pro tip: Try it with “Duck” to hear Alexa’s on-the-fly censorship skills.)

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This skill does this: You say a name or a word, and it does the whole “name game” spiel with it. Reynolds Reynolds bo-benolds, banana-fana-fo-fenolds, fee-fi mo-menolds, Reynolds. That’s all it does. (Pro tip: Try it with “Duck” to hear Alexa’s on-the-fly censorship skills.)

10

Figure Out What Day It Is

How long have you been in this room, talking to this cylinder? Doesn’t matter. What really matters is whether it’s national cheesecake day. And it is, my friend. It really is. Time to come out of your hole.

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How long have you been in this room, talking to this cylinder? Doesn’t matter. What really matters is whether it’s national cheesecake day. And it is, my friend. It really is. Time to come out of your hole.

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The 10 Best Amazon Echo Skills for Loners