4 Amazon Alexa Commands We'd Love to See on Echo Devices

Amazon's digital assistant can play music, tell you the weather and even turn off your lights. So why can't it perform these actions?

Katie Teague Writer II
Katie is a writer covering all things how-to at CNET, with a focus on Social Security and notable events. When she's not writing, she enjoys playing in golf scrambles, practicing yoga and spending time on the lake.
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Nelson Aguilar
Nelson Aguilar is an LA-based tech how-to writer and graduate of UCLA. With more than a decade of experience, he covers Apple and Google and writes on iPhone and Android features, privacy and security settings and more.
Katie Teague
Nelson Aguilar
3 min read
Amazon Echo smart speakers on a circular table with chair and throw pillow in background.

Amazon's virtual assistant is smart, but it can't do everything.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

You can do so much with your Amazon Echo, like turn on your lightsorder household essentials from Amazon and play your favorite songs. And while Alexa has recently gained several new commands -- you can check out some of the latest additions here -- there's still so much that Alexa should be able to do, but can't.

Read moreEverything Amazon Revealed at Its Exclusive Device Event

If you own an Amazon Echo, or are thinking about preordering one of the new devices announced during last Wednesday's Amazon hardware event, you might be surprised to learn what your device can't do. Here are a few commands that we think Amazon should add to Alexa ASAP.

And if you want to learn more about what Amazon released during its hardware event, check out more about the new Kindle Scribe, Halo Rise, Astro, Echo Dot and more.

Watch this: Amazon Introduces New Echo Dot and Echo Studio

Call 911 in an emergency

While you can place calls to anyone in your contacts using your Amazon Echo speaker, you can't use it to directly call 911 or other emergency numbers. This is because it's not connected to a phone line. Amazon says if you need to call 911, you'll need to use your cell phone, landline phone or other telephone services. 

While you can't call 911 directly, Alexa Together enables urgent response features like hands-free 24/7 access to professional emergency hotlines. The feature is a $20 per month subscription service.

Alternatively, you can create an emergency contact and call it using Alexa for help during an emergency. Unfortunately, it can't be 911.

The 5th-gen Amazon Echo Dot and Amazon Echo Dot with Clock sitting on a bedside nightstand.

Unfortunately, you can't call 911 with the new fifth-generation Amazon Echo Dot.


Perform multiple actions with single command

If you try asking Alexa to perform more than one action with a single command, it just won't happen. For example, if you say "Alexa turn on the lights and tell me the weather," the voice assistant will only complete one of those commands. 

Yes, you can turn on Follow-Up Mode to complete several actions, but it's not the same. You have to speak one command, wait for Alexa to perform the action and then speak the next command. With this feature, you're only eliminating saying "Alexa" more than once.

If there are certain actions that you typically say together, you can always create a routine to complete several commands at once.

Read more: Every New Amazon Alexa Command You Can Make on Your Echo Device


You'll have to use more than one command if you want Alexa to turn off the lights and play music.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Record a voice memo

You can use your Amazon Echo to set reminders and make lists, but you can't use it to record a voice memo. This feature should be easy for Amazon to add since Alexa stores your voice records in the Alexa app each time you give Alexa a voice command. 

It would be nice to say "Alexa, read my voice memos," so you can hear everything you need to do, in your own voice, or leave a message for the family, rather than listen to Alexa mispronounce words.

Create custom wake words

While Amazon expanded its list of phrases for addressing its voice assistant in 2021, your Echo speaker can still only be activated with six words.

In addition to the traditional wake words, -- Alexa, Echo, Computer or Amazon -- Amazon added Ziggy, a masculine-sounding voice, in July, and Hey, Disney, a new voice assistant that unlocks interactive entertainment with Disney characters from Marvel, Pixar and Star Wars. 

While these are fun, new additions, they're still your only options. So if you wanted to call your Echo something like Jarvis, you won't be able to at this time. 

Watch this: 'Hey, Disney!' explained: Disney's twist on Alexa for home and hotels

More Alexa must-reads