If you haven't joined the universe of smart speakers, it's about time that you do. Amazon's smart speakers feature the popular voice assistant, “Alexa.”
It's an extremely popular choice that you'll find yourself using constantly on a daily basis. To add Alexa to your life, you'll need to pick up one of Amazon's smart speakers.
The Echo is a range of smart devices that utilizes your voice to carry out commands around your home. For example, if you wanted Echo to turn on the lights at 6:30 each morning, you could do that. Routines also help you achieve this desired result.
Fun Fact: Alexa developers wanted to recreate the computer in "Star Trek" that answered all questions. Eventually the name “Alexa” was agreed upon. It is also reminiscent of the “Library of Alexander.” In "Star Trek," this library is the keeper of all knowledge.
Amazon smart speaker options
The Echo family includes Echo Dot, Echo Spot and Echo Show. The Echo Dot is a smaller speaker than the Echo and doesn't deliver the same quality of sound that you'll find with the Echo. While the Echo Spot and Show include a screen and speaker for your viewing pleasure.
Now that you know your smart speaker options, let's take a look at why you'll love Alexa and use it every day.
1. Ask Alexa to play music or read news
Amazon’s smart speakers are powered by artificial intelligence and can help with a wide array of everyday tasks, such as setting timers, playing the radio or podcasts. You can ask Alexa to help you with many things, such as turning on the lights in your house. Or, reading you the news or checking in on the weather for that day.
The draw to use Alexa is that you can do all of these hands-free, using only your voice. There is no need to whip out your phone and open an app when just speaking a command will do the trick.
You can also create a routine using the Alexa app. A routine is a specific event that happens each day at a specific time. For instance, Alexa could turn on your lights in the morning at a certain time.
Note: Alexa can read you the news or play your favorite song each morning. Alexa works with Amazon’s own music services and with a host of others. Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, and SiriusXM to name a few.
2. Alexa can help in an emergency
You might already have some use cases in mind for your Echo. But here is something that you might not have considered.
If you are living alone you might want to consider using the “Ask My Buddy” skill. Ask My Buddy helps you ask for assistance in an emergency using only your voice and makes it easy to let your contacts know you are doing OK.
You can set up personalized contacts in case of an emergency. For example, if you fell in your kitchen, you can simply say “Alexa, contact Emily.” Emily will then get a personalized message stating that you need help.
3. Listen to your favorite audiobooks
One of the best things about your Amazon echo is that it can read to you! This comes in handy when you want to jump feet first into your favorite story, but don’t want the hassle of finding your reading glasses.
To access this feature you will need to connect to Audible. Audible is a company that sells digital products like audiobooks, TV shows and radio. Your Amazon and Audible accounts should be synced. So you can purchase a book from Amazon.com’s Kindle feature, have it automatically download to your library and then say “Alexa, read (name of book)."
4. Use your voice to shop with Alexa
Alexa voice shopping can make your life so easy. With a couple of words you can order food from your favorite restaurant, groceries, diapers and more.
To order from a restaurant, first log on to the Alexa app and select which restaurants you’d like to include. Then, enable the Alexa skill that controls ordering food.
Alexa can make a shopping list and order products too. Alexa will remind you of your product history and when it’s time to reorder so you don’t need to worry about remembering it. Have Alexa be your personal assistant!
5. Call loved ones with Alexa
A great Alexa feature is the ability to call or text loved ones by using your voice. Voice commands such as “Alexa, call David” or “Alexa text Hannah” can help you stay connected with your family and friends.
Make hands-free calls in a matter of seconds! Cooking dinner? Busy feeding your pet? No problem!
Another way to connect with your family and friends is to use the drop-in feature. The drop-in feature allows you use one of your echo devices to drop in on your friends' or family members' devices. Say, “Alexa, drop in on (someone's name in your contact list that also has enabled the feature).”
You will need to use the Alexa app to add contacts such as your son or daughter to the drop-in feature. To do this open the Alexa app and say, “Alexa, show my contacts.” Then, select the contact of your choice and turn on the Drop-in option. The selected contact will need to turn on the Drop-in option on their device also.
Complete list of Amazon Alexa commands you didn't know you could use
Many Amazon Alexa users are stuck in a rut and they don’t even know it. They say things like “Alexa, play my music” and “Alexa, what is the weather for today?” Those are handy commands, but they barely scratch the surface of what this very capable voice assistant can do.