Hello, I am here to tell you about the world of absolute shit that exists in the Amazon Alexa app.
Because I'm an American patriot, I celebrated Amazon Prime Day and bought a discounted ($35 instead of $50!) Amazon Dot. The Dot is the smaller, cheaper version of the Echo. I have heard good things about the Echo, and I was excited to try it out the smart-speaker life.
I start to set it up, eagerly looking for cool "skills" (Alexa lingo for "apps," basically) to add to it. Obviously, add the BuzzFeed News flash briefing (start your morning with it!). But then...I'm looking at this list, and it's like last call at Club Penguin in here.
The "skills" interface seems to offer no differentiation between an official or essential skill vs. some random gimmick a teenager probably made. It appears it's quite easy to make your own "skill," which means there are a lot of super amateur ones, or ones that seems tailored for one person.
I imagined my new sleek and efficient life where I'm chatting happily to Alexa, telling her to fire up my Juicero, put Tide pods on my shopping list, and add dinner dates to my calendar.
That's not exactly how things went...
1. I Pooped. You tell it when you pooped most recently, and it encourages you. I told it I pooped today, and it said "good job!" I'll admit: I LOL'd.
2. A skill that just tells you how many chicken nuggets to order. I tried asking. It said..."seven." Fair enough.
3. The official Dunkirk movie skill. It's a choose-your-own-adventure game based on the movie. TBH it's actually pretty cool? But also...unnecessary.
4. The official skill of the Amazon show Bosch. It's another choose-your-own-adventure type game. It's also kinda fun, but...do Bosch fans also want to act out their own episodes?
5. The 24 skill. Lol.
6. Kangaroo facts. This whole animal-facts genre is huge on Alexa.
7. Eel facts. It told me an interesting fact about how eels die after mating (same).
8. Mantis shrimp facts. Imagine loving a species of shrimp so much you made an Alexa skill for them. I salute you, Eric Wang.
9. Facts about the town of Kimberly, Wisconsin. There are tons of these for small towns, as if at some mayors' conference they all decided they needed this hot new technology.
10. A skill that just repeats what you say.
But apparently it doesn't even do that one thing!
11. Date ideas. I asked it for a date idea, and it suggested "going skiing or snowboarding." That's a TERRIBLE date idea!
12. Fidget Spinner. It tells you that an imaginary fidget spinner is spinning.
EXCEPT THAT IT ACCIDENTALLY ORDERED ME A FIDGET SPINNER FROM AMAZON!!!!!!!
13. Fart sounds.
14. Cow Translator. It just repeats back "moo moo moo" to whatever you say.
15. A skill just for information about a baby named Hunter's first birthday party.
16. Jurassic Bark. It's just a recording of some random dog that parks when you open the skill. That's all. Just dog bark sounds.
17. Cat sounds. It just makes a loud purring noise. Forget everything I've said here, this actually totally rules. Best technology ever.
Katie Notopoulos is a senior editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. Notopoulos writes about tech and internet culture is cohost of the Internet Explorer podcast.
Contact Katie Notopoulos at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.