Amazon Echo Tips to Fresh Up Your Experience with the Smart Speaker

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Originally published at onix-systems.com.

If you are reading this post, it is likely that you own an Amazon Echo and/or regularly use Alexa to manage your smart home devices or check the weather forecast. You also know that these devices constantly receive updates and are getting smarter. New ways to use Amazon Echo may appear faster than you may realize.

We will explore several surprising options that users often underestimate, neglect, forget, or are unaware of. Try them to enrich your experience with Echo speakers.

Create a Profile for Each Person

If you have a family, you can create personal Alexa profiles for each family member. Each profile will connect to their corresponding Amazon account. Then you will need to remember about switching profiles every time you come home, just in case someone was using Alexa while you were away. This will prevent confusion while adding useful functions. For example, you can share calendar events and movies or music between profiles.

When you’re not sure which profile is active, just ask ‘Alexa, which profile am I using?’ If it is not yours, say, ‘Alexa, switch profile’ to fix this. It would be useful if you also make voice profiles for everyone. This way, Alexa will recognize everyone’s voices and not mix up your musical playlists with other family members.

You may change the settings via the Amazon Alexa app. Choose ‘Settings > Account Settings > Amazon Household,’ and follow the on-screen guidelines.

Wake Word for Alexa and Your Nickname Are Changeable

This one seems obvious but is often overlooked. ‘Alexa’ sounds cool, but for various reasons, users may need to use a different name. A few options are available: ‘Computer’, ‘Echo,’ and ‘Amazon’. To change the name, choose your device in the Alexa app, then tap the ‘Wake Word’ option.

You may also choose any word you like (except curse words) for Alexa to address you. To do this, you need to go to ‘Communicate > My profile and settings’.

Tie Non-Supported Smart Home Devices and Extra Options

You may find it frustrating to give multiple voice commands every time you need to manage everything that happens in your smart house. However, you can connect some smart devices that Amazon Echo doesn’t support officially and make use of their possibilities.

To expand the usefulness of Alexa, check the Yonomi and IFTTT connection sites. There, you will find out if you can ‘break the rules’ imposed by Amazon. For example, IFTTT’s extra Echo tips include:

  1. Find your phone. You can create an IFTTT applet that will help you find your phone. You can choose your unique phrase for this or use the default one. Alexa will call your phone when you say the command. It works on all phones unless it is on silent mode.
  2. Send a shopping list to your Android phone. Use Alexa to create a shopping list, and if you forget it, Alexa can send it to you as a message.
  3. Night lockup. This option is especially useful for people who are always unsure if they have locked the doors. With such an applet, they will check or lock their Alexa-compatible smart locks.
  4. Make a cup of coffee. When you wake up, just say ‘Alexa, trigger brew coffee,’ and it will be ready when you get to your coffee maker.

These are just a few examples of how new applets can make your experience with Alexa more efficient. Just like the official skills, their number grows constantly.

Calls via Alexa

Amazon lets you call anyone from your phone contact list using Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Show, or another Alexa device, provided that they have an Echo device too. If it’s not urgent, you can send a message the same way. They will receive it via the Alexa app.

Intercom-like calls are another option. If you have multiple Alexa devices around the house, you can retranslate anything you say in any room. No need to yell to gather everyone to dinner.

Alarm Options

If your usual alarm becomes boring, or you are so accustomed to it you don’t even hear it anymore, try to set your favorite music on the alarm. You only need Alexa and a streaming service: Amazon Music, Spotify, Pandora, TuneIn, iHeartRadio, or Sirius XM. You can test the new alarm by saying, ‘Alexa, wake me up to the Roxxete” (or Christmas carols, or any other music you like).

Bluetooth Speaker Is Dead? Play Music with Echo

When your speaker is dead, it’s time to remember that you own another one. You can stream Amazon Music and Audible audiobooks or make Alexa read something from your Kindle library.

With unsupported music services, such as Apple Music, Google Music, or your music library, you will need to connect your devices via Bluetooth and use Echo as a typical Bluetooth speaker.

Educate yourself with Amazon Alexa

One of the most plain ideas is to learn a new language. For example, the Daily Dose skill helps in learning 34 languages. It can be a new-word-in-one-minute or a full lesson that takes 10–20 minutes.

A special skill from Coursera won’t allow you to do your homework or quizzes, but will help you not to miss your deadlines and check on your progress. This way, Coursera hopes to fit education into the daily life of its students.

You may find custom skills for very special expertise. For example, Birdzilla will help you become an expert in North American birds and even distinguish them by their songs. The Alexa skill allows you to not only listen to almost 600 different bird songs but also learn more about the feathery singers. If you have Echo Show or any device with a screen connected to your Echo, you can see a picture of the singing bird.

Add New Alexa Skills with Your Voice Only

Initially, when users wanted to add a new Alexa skill, they had to open the Alexa app and do it manually. The skills library wasn’t organized well, but now that has been fixed, and you can manage the skills via voice commands.

Now, knowing the skill name all you have to do is say, ‘Alexa, enable Magic-8 ball’ (or the Bartender skill, or whatever skill you need). You can use the enabled skills right away.

Additional Amazon Echo Tips and Tricks

Here are a few more Alexa Amazon tips:

  • Take Alexa in your car. You can plug Echo Dot or use the Echo Auto to enrich your driving experience. You no longer need to press buttons and become distracted.
  • Mute the wake word. Echo is always listening, and if you don’t want it to, you can mute it by pressing the button on top of the device.
  • Control your Amazon Echo through the web. This may sound inconvenient, but wait until your phone with the Alexa app is dead.
  • You can adapt your Flash Briefing to your liking. You can choose what resources Alexa will use to give you the news, weather, or a sports update.
  • Let Alexa brief you on traffic details. You can enter all the addresses you will travel through and check on the traffic just before your commute.
  • Link your calendar to Alexa. It can be Google, Apple, or Microsoft calendar. After that, you only need to ask, ‘Alexa, what’s on the calendar’.
  • Protect your voice purchasing. You and any user of a particular Echo device can make a purchase on Amazon with Alexa. To prevent somebody from making purchases on your behalf, protect that option with a voice code.
  • Pair your Echo with a Bluetooth speaker. Now it’s a music system.
  • You can also connect your Echo to an actual music system using a standard 3.5 mm cable. Bigger and better speakers will then be paired along with the convenience that voice control provides.
  • Multi-room music. You can connect all of your Echos in every room to play the same music simultaneously, which can be ideal for parties.
  • Use Alexa instead of ‘Shazam.’ If you know some lyrics but can’t remember the song, you can try to sing what you remember to Alexa for it to guess the song.
  • Create a routine. It means that when you say the particular phrase, Alexa will execute the particular sequence of actions.
  • Check Alexa’s geek side. You can try to quote some famous phrases from ‘Star Wars’ or ‘Monty Python’ and see where this conversation will go.

We’ve covered some useful yet often overlooked Amazon Echo tips and tricks which can make your life easier and more fun. There are many more. If you want to be up to date, ask, ‘Alexa, do you have any new features?’ and receive a rundown of what is new.

Even after all of this, it’s quite possible we have yet to discover the best way to use Alexa. Do you happen to have a groundbreaking skill idea? Do you need to improve the experience for your Alexa skill users? Onix is ready to help.

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Onix-Systems provides IT services in website, mobile app and emerging technologies software development. Check our blog -> https://onix-systems.com/blog

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