Whether you have an Amazon Echo, Dot, Tap, or what we can only imagine will be an increasing list of third-party devices that currently work with Alexa, there are lots of things you can ask the digital voice assistant to do. And while you likely already know she’ll read a couple lines of a Wikipedia entry or spout off a laundry list of facts, we doubt you’re aware of everything she’s capable of. That said, below are some of our favorite ways to use Alexa around the house.
Once you get your Alexa device up and running on your Wi-Fi network, there are still a few more things you might want to do before diving in, either using echo.amazon.com or the iOS or Android app. First, if your name is Alexa, you will definitely want to change the “wake” word, which cues the device in that it should be listening. Choose your device under the settings tab, then select your desired wake word, which can either be “Amazon” or “Echo.” Yes, you can call your Amazon Dot “Echo.”
If your significant other has significantly different musical tastes, you’ll want to set them up with a different profile. Under settings in the app, go to account, and click Household Profile. You’ll be guided through a series of steps, which include entering your loved one’s account info — meaning they’ll probably need to be there when you’re setting it up. Once that’s done, you can switch back and forth between accounts by saying, “Alexa, switch profile.”
There are also a number of third-party developers who have created skills for Alexa, from games (even bingo) to quizzes (are you master of the Seinfeld domain?) to fitness routines (like a 7-minute workout), so you’ll want to oomph up what she can do right away.
Oops, did you ask Alexa something embarrassing? You can delete individual recordings by going to Settings and History. To delete a recording, select it and click Delete voice recordings. If you want everything gone, go to www.amazon.com/myx, choose Your Devices, click on your device, hit Manage Voice Recordings, and delete them.
In the kitchen
Since your hands are often covered in food or busy chopping, Alexa can be a big help in the kitchen, whether you need her to set a timer for 10 minutes or convert ounces to cups. There aren’t a lot of recipe options in her skill set yet, but both the Bartender app and Drink Boy can coach Alexa to tell you how to make a cocktail, and MySomm and wineMate can offer wine recommendations based on what you’re cooking. If you missed what comes between the cognac and lemon juice in a sidecar, you can ask Alexa, “Can you repeat that?”
If you’re planning what to make for dinner and notice you’re out of coriander, you can ask Alexa to add it to your shopping list. If you’ve bought paper towels from Amazon Prime before, you can reorder them by saying, “Alexa, reorder paper towels.” Don’t worry; you can cancel the order right away, too.
In the bedroom
Alexa is more than willing to help you start and end your day. Saying “Alexa, set an alarm” will prompt her to ask for a time, and you can set your 7 a.m. wake-up call for every day, weekdays, weekends, or just on Thursdays. To edit existing alarms and change the tone, or to get Jason Schwartzman’s sleepy voice to coax you from your slumber, you can go to the Alexa app. There you can delete an alarm, or say “Alexa, cancel alarm for” the day and time you have set. Forgot when you’re supposed to wake up tomorrow? Just ask, “Alexa, when is my alarm?”
When you’re ready for bed, you can ask Alexa to turn off the lights and lower the thermostat, provided you’ve enabled compatible smart home devices.
When your alarm goes off in the morning, you can ask Alexa for traffic, weather, and news briefings. The Echo, Dot, and other Amazon devices can also tell you what’s on your Google Calendar, or you can add an event. You can even call an Uber if you’re running late.
In the living room
Don’t forget that the Amazon Echo started as a Bluetooth speaker, so obviously you’ll use it to listen to music. First off, you can listen to anything on Amazon Music, just by asking Alexa to play it, so long as you have an Amazon Prime account. But those with Spotify premium accounts can sync them with their Amazon devices, and TuneIn, iHeartRadio, and Pandora will also play tunes, internet radio, and podcasts on command. If you bought some Taylor Swift MP3s and upload them to your Amazon Music Library — which stores 250 songs for free — you can also listen to those. You’ll have to go through the Amazon Music desktop app to upload them, though.
If you prefer to listen to audiobooks, you can do so with your paired Audible account. It’s not quite the same, but if you have a list of eBooks in your Kindle account, you can find which are compatible with Alexa in the app and ask her to read it. She’ll do it, in her somewhat robotic Alexa voice, so don’t expect a Jim Dale-like experience.
Once you’re done deciding what movie to see or planning that family trip with Kayak, you can have a little fun with Alexa. She has jokes, Easter eggs, and amusing answers to all sorts of questions — like where do babies come from? — and Reddit has a pretty good roundup of some fun ones to try. Want to choose your own adventure? Enable the skill, then say, “Alexa, open the magic door.”
This entry passed through the Full-Text RSS service – if this is your content and you’re reading it on someone else’s site, please read the FAQ at fivefilters.org/content-only/faq.php#publishers.