Amazon has again updated its ever-growing list of Skills and questions for Alexa-enabled device owners to enable or ask when using its digital assistant, Amazon Alexa. It bears mention that since the What's New section of Alexa's support page is updated with relative frequency, some of its items listed here may have changed by the time of publishing. Some of the items on that list – such as asking how much Star Wars' Jabba the Hutt weighs, how old Alexa is, or who Alexa's favorite actor is – are mostly subjective or just for fun. Others are bound to be useful in one way or another for users, with a higher likeliness that they'll be used much more often. However, topping the list of new things to try, appropriately enough, users can start by asking Alexa to give a drum roll.
First, Amazon says Alexa can make life easier for users who ask the digital assistant to "tell me a life hack." It can also now play games – much like Google's Home-based Assistant – through the command "let's play a game." However, Amazon has also added three of the things that are most requested by its Alexa users. Namely, Alexa can now play back podcasts from Radiolab and answer history questions such as "who was the 10th U.S. president." There's also now an Alexa Skill called Box of Cats, which is described as a good way to convince a user's pets that there's a "ghost cat" wandering around their home. Furthermore, among suggested questions to ask Alexa, Amazon has listed queries about whether or not Alexa can play radio stations, who won a Golden Globe Award, what a normal blood sugar range is, how to receive calls, who's number one in the charts, and when Britney Spears released her first album. Alexa's abilities don't stop there either, with Amazon suggesting users ask Alexa for meal ideas or to tell them a Ninja joke. Finally, Alexa can now play Camila Cabello's latest album via Amazon Music for Prime members through January 25.
Setting those functions aside, the online shipping giant has also revealed some more practical features. For example, Alexa can now translate short phrases and words from English to supported languages. Those include Spanish, German, French, Japanese, Italian, and 31 others. An Alexa Skill called Vroom has also been made available, aimed at helping users grow the minds of their children through various activities and suggestions. Once the Skill is enabled, asking for a "Vroom" for a child of a specified age should return a response with an age-appropriate activity. Many users on the skill's page have expressed some concern about whether the suggestions are really age-appropriate, and there does seem to be an issue with name recognition according to reviews. However, those are likely kinks that will be worked out over time.