I always enjoy looking further into how smart devices work, and what features they have to offer. Today, I talk about Amazon’s Alexa and what useful and fun features I found.
Here are the top 11 everyday uses for Alexa and some more, Let’s get started…
1. As a Timer and Alarm
These are two of the most popular functions of the Echo. In the past, these features were limited to only one or two timers and alarms.
However, now, the features have been updated. Currently, you can set multiple timers and even name them so that when the timer goes off, you will know what it was meant to remind you to do.
This is a great update, especially for people who are trying to multitask and keep track of multiple things.
I find this great for when preparing dinner for my wife and kids, having multiple meals cooking, you can have multiple timers running that are named, so you know that the alarm is for the Fish, Eggs, Paste etc…
2. Listening to Music
Bored and want to listen to some music without having to leave your seat? Alexa has you covered.
You can listen to music no matter the room you are in or even have each room playing the same tune simultaneously if you have multiple Echos. It will be more like having a centralized speaker system in your home.
The best thing is that Amazon Echo allows you to stream music on Amazon Music, Spotify, Pandora, Tuned In, iHeart Radio, Apple Music, Amazon HD music, Sirius XM, and much more.
This means that you will rarely miss out on a song you want to listen to. The addition of Apple Music to the Echo was a welcome update to many as Apply Music is not available in every country.
With all these music streaming avenues, you will find virtually all the artists, music, and genres you would like to listen to.
With Amazon, it is possible to create a playlist by issuing commands. You can add songs to your playlist by just saying add the song to (your playlist name).’ With other services, you may need to create a playlist through the app.
3. Triggering Certain Actions Based On Your Routines
A human assistant doesn’t have to be given separate requests by the boss to act. An assistant should be conversant with your morning routine, and if they are serious and passionate about their work, they know what you need without you having to ask them every other morning.
And now, Alexa can read your behavior and automate some actions based on your routine, thanks to the Routines’ feature.
Routines are useful and can help save time. With Alexa, you can create a series of actions that can be triggered by a specific command or voice at a particular time. The voice can be linked to an alarm, location, smart devices, Alexa Guard, or Alexa gadget.
In other words, you pick what will trigger a routine, and then select the actions that follow the routines.
For example, you can set actions that follow after you say, “Alexa, I’m home” in the evening. Alexa can greet you (after you say this), turn on the smart lights in your living room, read the news of the day or even emails, and then start playing your set music playlist.
Also, you can say, “Alexa, good night,” and Alexa may reply, “Good night to you too,” followed by executing actions such as locking the doors and turning off all the lights in the house.
What’s more, Alexa now allows you to set the wait times whereby you put “waits” between actions. Maybe you want Alexa to turn off the lights after 10 minutes when you say, “good night.” You may also want to delay lights downstairs by 10 minutes after dismissing the alarm.
There are many possible combinations for routines provided for by Alexa- you just have to set your routine.
The fact that you can trigger a routine by using Alexa without having to dictate each and every command is really impressive.
4. Smart Home Management
One of the reasons people invest in the Echo is to be able to control their homes remotely. Echos have always made it possible for one to control smart plugs, switches, cameras, smart lights, and much more. And now, Amazon has made it easier for one to control a set of smart devices simultaneously by the addition of the group feature.
You can put together all the smart devices and lights in one room into one group so that you can be controlling all conveniently.
For instance, by just saying “turn off the lights,” the echoes in a certain group will know the lights it is grouped with. You don’t have to remember the name of a group or each light. Now you can go from one room to another and switch on or off lights with the same command.
This is a great upgrade as it makes life easier. I mean, you have a lot in mind- you don’t need to complicate things more by memorizing different commands for different rooms.
5. Multi-room audio
As we had mentioned earlier in the music section, you can play music in different rooms in your home simultaneously as long as you have multiple Echos. You can choose to operate them like a centralized speaker system in your home, whereby you play the same music in all of them simultaneously.
In addition, you can create a speaker group of echos, whereby one section of the house plays a different set of music to the one you are playing in the living room.
Recently, Amazon added an option to allow one to add your fire TV Cubes or fire TV sticks into a group of speakers to facilitate multi-room audio.
What this means is that you can now play music on your TV. This is a great upgrade for people with quality sound systems.
6. Drop-In Functionality
This is an old functionality that many people already know but still worth a mention. The feature makes it possible for one to talk to someone in another room or even someone who is outside the house.
This functionality is more of an intercom system for Echo’s as it directly connects you to another echo. To use it, just say “drop-in” on the name of the Echo you want to connect to, and you will be connected to it.
It is also possible to use the drop-in feature via the app, which means you can connect to another echo when outside the house.
7. Set Reminders and Create Lists
Your Echo device can also remind you to complete a task or create a list of things to do. You can also set reminders for others too.
What’s more, you can choose to send a reminder to your phone via the app. This means that you will be notified of a missed reminder, especially if you were away from your Echo. A yellow light on your phone will notify you of a missed reminder.
With a list, you can create a list and add items to it using your voice. And the best part is that you don’t have to add one item to your list at a time- you can add multiple things to a list at the same time.
For example, you could say, “Alexa, add cleaning the house, washing the dishes, organizing the wardrobes, and cleaning shoes to my to-do list.”
Isn’t that convenient?
8. Keep Track of Your Day with Calendars
It is easy to add events to your desired calendar so that you don’t miss out on a crucial meetup or event. Alexa allows integration with Google, Microsoft, Apple Calendar, or Microsoft Exchange Calendar accounts. By connecting your desired calendar to your Echo, your events will be synced up.
For those with Echo Show, you can set it up so that your calendars will be showing you an incoming event. When you want to know what is coming up next, you can just say, “Alexa, what is on my calendar today?”
9. Hands-Free Phone Calls
When setting up your Echo, you can authorize it to sync up your contacts. The same way your Bluetooth speaker in your car function, is the same way you can use Alexa to make hands-free calls. You can call anyone from your contact list.
To activate Alexa hands-free phone calls, you will need to have an Amazon account, the Alexa app installed on your phone as well as your mobile number.
As long as you have set up a voice profile, Alexa will know your voice and thus will not get confused and call another person.
It is also possible to make a call by saying the numbers in your phone book, instead of using the name. Another great option added to Alexa is the ability to call users via Skype App or their Echo. This means you can do a voice or video call.
10. Audio Books and Podcasts
Another great everyday use for Alexa is listing to audiobooks or podcasts. For people who don’t like reading books, this will come in handy. With your Alexa, you can ask for a specific podcast, and it will search from its available services such as Tune In or iHeartRadio, and find the podcast you want.
And a creative part about Alexa reading books for you is that when you ask for your audiobook, it will pick up from where you last left.
What’s more, you can have Alexa read Kindle books for you too.
11. Get news
During those hectic mornings as you get ready for work or in the evening after a long day at work, Alexa can give you a flash briefing of what’s happening.
Whether it’s sports, markets, politics, or celebrity gossip, we all need daily updates (or maybe a few of them).
Alexa allows you to customize your news sources and includes to your morning routine. Go to your Alexa app and click settings to customize your Flash Briefing to get news from all the news sources you can think of. Briefings take no longer than 3 minutes, making it ideal when you are on-the-go.
All you have to say is “Alexa, play my flash briefing” when you need it, and “Alexa stop” when you want to turn it off.
If you love following sports and want to keep track of your favorite teams, Alexa can provide you with the latest updates on live games, finished games and upcoming schedules. The Sports Update Feature lets you add your favorite teams to get a summary of what’s happening.
When you need news on your favorite teams, you just say “Alexa, what’s my sports update” and you will get a quick update.
Bonus: Alexa Guard
Remember the bonus feature we mentioned at the beginning? The Alexa Guard is an amazing feature when you need extra peace of mind.
It can listen to any suspicious activity such as smoke alarms, carbon monoxide or a glass breaking and give an alert. When you leave the house, just ensure that the guard is activated to have further peace of thoughts.
Do you like to give your home the “someone-is-still-here” look when you are not around? Alexa Guard turns lights on and off at random instances so that anybody thinks you’re in the house.
The device uses your ZIP code to find out sundown times to find out the night time. Another cool addition is you can choose which lights to use at random instances.
With these new functionalities, you should be able to make your home a smart haven- and more useful.
Yes, we all know that these smart assistant units can set timers, play music, and automate your home, but we believe that you have learned something new about their functionality that can help you even get more value for your money.
Share with us other ways you use Alexa for in the comment section below.