Amazon’s popular Alexa voice assistant is constantly learning new tricks, but it took developers some time before they finally delivered on two very highly requested features: reminders and named timers. Before in Alexa’s earlier days, you could set multiple timers, but the system would only recognize them by their length. You had to remember which timer was for what. Reminders weren’t even an option. Now they’re both available as new features and here’s how to use them:
Reminders and Alexa are a natural fit. While Alexa has been able to track Apple, Google and Microsoft calendars, she couldn’t just pop up and give you casual reminders at pre-set times. Now it’s easy to enable this feature. Say “Alexa, remind me to go to my dentist appointment at 3 p.m. today” or “Alexa, remind me to call my mom on Friday.” If you don’t mention a time, then Alexa will ask you for specifics.
When the reminder comes due, Alexa will glow, sound a gentle alert, and say, “Here’s your reminder. Call my mom.” She will continue to remind you until you ask her to stop.
You can manage your reminders through the Alexa app (select “Alerts & Alarms” from the main menu). You can also view a list of completed reminders here. If you’re away from home and can’t talk to Alexa directly, you can still set a new reminder through the app. The app lets you choose which Alexa device will issue the reminder if you have more than one. Voice commands can also be used to cancel a reminder or check on reminders you’ve already set.
The named timers feature is pretty intuitive to use. You set a timer by using phrases like “Alexa, set an oven timer for one hour” or “Alexa, set a nap timer for 20 minutes” or “Alexa, set a timer for watering for 15 minutes.” She will announce back to you the name of the timer, so you will know if she got it right.
As with the timer function, before the new feature was introduced, you can cancel, stop, or resume the named timers using your voice. If you don’t specify which timer, Alexa will ask which one you mean. You can also ask Alexa about the timers you have going and she will give the time remaining on each one. When a timer goes off, Alexa will announce “Your oven timer is done.” The alert will then continue to sound until you ask Alexa to stop.
As with Reminders, you can view your named timers in the Alexa app under “Alerts & Alarms.” You will see a list of the names and you have the option to pause or cancel the timers right in the app. Amazon notes, “If two or more timers are set for the same amount of time, use the app to cancel them.”
Amazon debuted named timers and reminders in early June. It’s easy to see the usefulness of these new features. Just imagine hosting Thanksgiving and setting a timer for the turkey, a timer for the pie, and a reminder that the in-laws are going to show in an hour, so you can finish getting dressed before they arrive.
These aren’t the only new features out now on Alexa. Amazon is feeling the heat from competitors like Google Home and the upcoming Apple HomePod, so the company is busy offering up new and creative ways to use the voice assistant. Click here to check out our guide for getting started with Alexa Calling & Messaging, and explore some lesser-known, but very useful commands right here.