Although Amazon Echo is not (yet) released in the Great White North, it hasn’t stopped some entrepreneurial developers from unleashing a few very helpful Canadian specific skills. The Echo app store, aka the “Skills” section in the Amazon Alexa mobile app, has now grown to over 130 applications since Amazon began rolling out its first third-party applications last August.

TTC Skill

Toronto Transit provides live predictions for the arrival time of Toronto buses and streetcars so you never have to wait outside too long (especially during the winter). Under the covers we use GPS locations to receive real-time route data as to when the next buses/streetcar will arrive at any specific bus stop.

Just tell Alexa a streetcar/bus number and stop number to receive live arrival times. You can save your nearest stop number and your usual bus or streetcar as defaults so next time you can simply ask “Alexa, ask Toronto Transit when should I leave ?”

OC Transpo Skill

OC Transpo provides live predictions for the arrival time of Ottawa Carleton buses and O-Train so you can leave on time to catch the bus. Under the covers we use GPS locations to receive real-time route data as to when the next bus will arrive at a particular bus stop.

To use the OC Transpo skill, try saying…

  • Alexa, ask Oh See Transpo when is the next route 95 at halt 3047
  • Alexa, ask Oh See Transpo when is the next bus for halt 3060
  • Alexa, ask Oh See Transpo for next 95 at 3047

Google Translate Skill

Ok, we admit this skill isn’t specifically written for Canada, but all considered, it can be quite useful (in particular if you have French relatives).

Use Translator for Alexa to translate English words and phrases into over 50 languages. Alexa will tell you the translation of words and short phrases in languages she can speak and send a card to the Alexa app with the translation and the phonetic transcription. 

To get a translation in one step, say: “Alexa, ask Translator to say ‘Hello’ in French.”

These skills can be loaded into Echo using the Alexa app or your favourite web browser. Keep a watch for any new Canadian centric skills that may appear in the Echo app store soon.

Update: the Translator skill was pulled from the Skills store. The skill seemed to have stopped working as of the new year.