Are you like millions of others who are turning their place into a “smart home?” This, of course, means a home that is equipped with electronic devices that can be controlled remotely by a computer or phone.
One of the most popular virtual assistants is Amazon’s Alexa. You can find Alexa in several Amazon products such as the Echo, Dot and Tap.
If you already have an Echo, or better yet, multiple Amazon Echos around your house, here are 10 tricks and commands you have to try.
1. Multi-room audio
Do you have multiple Echos in your home? You can set them up to play the same music simultaneously! It’s like having a full centralized speaker system in your house. If you’re familiar with Apple’s Airplay or the Sonos system, it works similarly.
Here’s how you set up multi-room audio. Go to Settings in the Alexa app then scroll down until you find Audio Groups and select Multi-Room Music. Here you’ll see all your Smart Home Groups. Select Add Group >> Amazon Multi-Room Music Group. Select a name for your new group, then add the Echo devices you want to include.
Once you have your groups set up, just tell Alexa the song, artist, album, station or genre you want to play followed by your group name.
2. TV control
In case you didn’t know, if you own one of Amazon’s Fire TV streaming devices, you can control it remotely by merely using an Echo and your voice.
Setting this up is easy! Just open your Alexa app >> Music, Video & Books. Select Fire TV >> Link Your Alexa Device then follow the on-screen instructions to select the devices you want to link. To confirm the link, tap on Link Devices.
Note: If you only have one Fire TV registered to your Amazon account, it will link to your Echo automatically.
To use your voice as a remote control, just say “Alexa,” followed by a playback command, such as pause, fast-forward or skip an episode. You can also tell Alexa to search for a specific video and open other apps on your smart TV.
Aside from answering basic questions, Alexa can also expand her answers with more information about a topic with information from Wikipedia.
Just say “Wikipedia” followed by the name of the topic then say “More, “Hear more” or “Tell me more” to have Alexa read more information from the topic’s Wikipedia page.
Another thing you can try with multiple Echos is setting up a multi-room intercom. You can then use your Echos to Drop In or call another Echo.
To set this up, open your Alexa app, go to Settings then select the desired Echo device and tap Drop In. Now, select either On or Only my household to enable Drop In conversations.
To call an Echo, just say “Alexa, Drop in” followed by the name of the Echo you want to call.
5. Make phone calls
Here’s a great use for your Amazon Echo, place hands-free phone calls! Just link your mobile number to your Echo and it will let you call anyone from your contacts list.
To activate Alexa calling, you’ll need an Amazon account, your mobile number and the Alexa app installed on your phone. Just open the Alexa app, go to the Conversations tab (on the bottom menu, it has a speech bubble icon) then follow the on-screen instructions to verify and link your mobile number.
To make a call from your compatible Echo devices, just ask Alexa to call the person or contact you want to reach by name.
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.
It’s easier than ever to set up reminders using your Echo. Just 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.
8. Cooking assistant
Some of Alexa’s best kitchen features don’t require you to activate a new skill. You can add items to your grocery list by saying “Alexa, add hot dogs to my shopping list.”
You can then check the Alexa app on your phone to access your shopping list while you’re at the store.
Alexa is also a quick way to get conversions. Just ask, “Alexa, how many tablespoons are in a cup?” Alexa will quickly tell you the answer is “16.” Alexa’s named-timers feature will help you manage everything you have cooking. Say, “Alexa, set a pizza timer for 20 minutes.”
9. Tell a joke
Here’s a fun command you can try, ask Alexa to “tell a joke” and she’ll try to make you laugh with a random quick riddle. Try this too – say “Alexa, sound like a cat” and she’ll “meow.”
10. Ask about Alexa’s competition
Another light-hearted request you can try is to ask Alexa about her rivals like Google Home, Siri or Cortana. Ask her “Alexa, what do you think of Siri?” or “Alexa, are you better than Cortana?” and you might be surprised by her answers.
Bonus: Alexa gets first celebrity voice
Just in time for the holidays, Alexa is getting its first celebrity voice and it’s Oprah Winfrey!
Amazon and “O,” the Oprah magazine is bringing Oprah’s voice to the Echo via “Oprah’s Favorite Things.”
To hear Oprah’s voice, just say, “Alexa, let’s shop Oprah’s favorite things.” Oprah will then pick one of her favorite products and talk about why she picked the item this year. Of course, at the end, Alexa will then ask you if you’d like to buy the item.
List of Alexa commands you’re not using but should be
Need more helpful Alexa commands? Click here to learn more!