Amazon added a few capabilities to Alexa last month, introducing a range of Super Bowl-related skills and the ability to do home automation on its own, but today the company told us about some new alarm and COVID skills that sneaked under the radar.
You’ve been able to set custom alarms and alarm sounds using Alexa devices for a while now, but now you can do it with Minion sounds, if you just have not woken up angry enough. The sounds include classics like “Peep Peep Peep”, “Banana” or “Boing Boing Boing!” Lovely.
There are now a number of brand alerts available for Alexa, including sounds from Disney, Spongebob, Jurassic World and Harry Potter. They can be set by saying “Alexa, wake me up to Minions / Jurassic World / Spongebob / etc alarm tone.”
The alarm sounds can be added by asking your Alexa device for them, and you can also browse and add them to the Android version of the Alexa app. If you are using the iOS version of the app, just read the list and ask your smart speaker to install them. It seems that Amazon was able to work out an agreement with Apple to make Prime video rental work, but not Alexa separate payment processing.
For skills that may be a little more useful, Alexa can now help you find the nearest COVID test site, or help you find vaccine samples. Asking Alexa “where can I be tested for COVID” will make it read out a list of nearby places you can be tested at. You can then get Alexa to call one of the places if you want more information.
If you are looking for vaccine samples, you can also ask “Alexa find a COVID trial”, and it will look for someone within 30 miles of you, using the research organization IQVIA to search for studies. Of course, this is information you can find on the internet yourself, but it can be a handy option if you do not mind Amazon knowing.