More Than Just Weather And Music

Bradley Metrock Offers 200 Alexa Uses That Aren’t Weather and Music in Forthcoming Book

Bradley Metrock spends a lot of time exploring the potential of voice assistants as the host of the This Week in Voice podcast. Now, he’s collated some of the best of what he’s learned about Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant in More Than Just Weather & Music: 200 Ways To Use Alexa,” set to be published on October 17.


Metrock, the executive producer of VoiceFirst Events and CEO of Score Publishing, started putting together examples of Alexa abilities and skills that he thought more people should know about after observing the relatively limited number of tasks people give the voice assistant.

“My belief is that people want to do more with Alexa and want to do more with voice, they just don’t know how,” Metrock told Voicebot in an interview. “It’s partly an education problem, partly a marketing problem, and partly a bandwidth problem. My working title was the Alexa Instruction Manual because I wanted to position this as something central. There are a lot of use cases beyond ones that received awards and are well known.”

The book is designed to make it very easy for anyone to understand. Each page is illustrated with exactly how to access a skill, and what it does. Metrock pared down the list to 200 after starting with nearly 400 that met his standards for inclusion. In part, that was to keep some space open for new skills that haven’t yet debuted.

“I thought it was going to be easier because I follow this stuff so closely,” Metrock said. “I knew 50 of the use cases that ended up in the book off the top of my head. I had my own sort of selection bias to overcome, but I feel like we got there.”

Show Don’t Tell

In addition to the book, Metrock is working on an adaptation for Amazon smart screens like the Echo Show. This version of the book, scheduled for release in January 2020, will have the detailed illustrations translated to a more interactive form.

“The way I envision it working is a PowerPoint or Slidedeck sort of delivery,” Metrock said. “Each skill is one graphic and the idea will be that some number will be available at no cost, then there will be a freemium model where people can pay to upgrade for more.”

Alexa Integral

Both versions of the book will include more than just skills created by third parties. Around a quarter of the book will be things Alexa can do without needing to add other skills. Metrock pointed out that even when purchasing an Echo or another Alexa-enabled device, the box only has a few examples listing what the voice assistant can do. And there’s data indicating people do tend to stick to asking Alexa for things like weather reports and music. But even within that context, people don’t always know what Alexa can do.

“One was so simple, and I had no idea. You can set a timer to wake you up with music or podcast or radio station of your choosing,” Metrock said. “It’s a simple thing, but boy, do I love that.”


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