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7 Surprising Amazon Echo Features You Didn't Know About

Alexa has some useful tricks up its sleeve that are already built into your Amazon Echo.

Amazon Echo Plus on a table
The Amazon Echo will keep your pets entertained.
Ian Knighton/CNET

You use your Amazon Echo for all sorts of things around the house -- from playing music and replacing an old alarm clock to using it as a base for all your smart home devices. Or maybe you wanted it to make you laugh or you wanted more than one Echo speaker for whole-home audio. Whatever the case, Alexa has so many other surprising features that you may not know about. 

For example, did you know you can turn your Echo into a TV speaker? Keep reading to learn how these surprising tips can be an asset to your day-to-day schedule.

You can stream sound from your TV to your Echo speaker

Instead of spending money on a new soundbar, you can just stream sound to your Echo device from your TV. This is useful for when you'd like the sound to be louder (and closer) without waking up the entire house.

To do so, you'll need to connect your Echo devices to a smart TV with Bluetooth capabilities or a Fire TV. Saying, "Alexa, connect," can help you get started. When you're ready to unpair the two, just say, "Alexa, disconnect."

Tile Tracker on keychain

Never lose your keys again.

Josh Miller/CNET

Echo can help you care for a loved one

If you've been worried about an older loved one during the pandemic, Amazon now has a feature that gives you some ease of mind. It's called the Alexa Care Hub and it allows you to monitor their activity and receive alerts if they haven't been active for some time.

To start using the Care Hub, open the Alexa app and tap More > See More > Care Hub. Select Get Started and follow the instructions. Your loved one will need to accept the request in their email and then set up a four-digit code to complete the setup.

Alexa can find your keys that always go missing

When you get home, it's easy to just plop your keys down somewhere without thinking. However, all that time spent searching for your keys can become tiresome. Fortunately, you can use Alexa to help you find your keys when you're in a hurry. You'll need to attach an RFID device, like a Tile tracker, to your keychain and then pair it with Alexa.

Another option is to set your keys down somewhere and immediately activate your Echo to let it know where you've placed them. For example, say, "Alexa, remember that I placed my keys in the basket by the TV."

Alexa can talk to your cats and dogs

Gray cat standing behind a spray bottle

Your pets get into everything, so keep them entertained with your Amazon Echo.

Alina Bradford/CNET

Worried about your furry best friends when you're at work all day? They're probably missing you too, so why not have Alexa entertain them while you're gone? You'll need to download a skill in the Alexa app, like Meow! for cat lovers and Woof! for dog lovers.

The way it works is Alexa acts as a virtual cat or dog and converses with your pet by meowing or barking. Alexa can start the "conversation" and once your pet responds, the virtual assistant will continue mimicking the animal sounds. Just say, "Alexa, enable Meow or Bark," and your pets will be entertained all day. 

If you prefer talking to your pets, you can always use the drop-in feature to get your dog's tail wagging. You'll need to turn that function on in the Alexa app in the Communicate tab. Once it's enabled, you can say, "Alexa, drop in on the Echo Plus ($95 at Amazon)."

Medication reminders

Much like the keys you always misplace, Alexa can remind you to take your medication and which medication to take. You can set a reminder to, say, take your blood pressure medicine at 4 p.m. and Alexa will remind you. You can also tell Alexa that you took your medicine and if you later can't remember if you took it, Alexa will let you know you already did. 

Donate to a charity

If you'd like to give back to your community but you don't have time to volunteer, you can always donate to the cause. To get started say, "Alexa, I want to make a donation." Alexa will ask which charity you want to donate to -- there are nearly 400 options. Alexa will ask how much you want to donate. Make sure you have Amazon Pay set up before you donate.

Echo Show 5 sitting on a table

Hey, Alexa, what should I wear today?

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Alexa, what should I wear today?

Not everyone has time to check the weather in the morning. If you're pressed for time, ask Alexa if you should wear rain boots or sandals, pants or shorts, a jacket or T-shirt, so you can get the wardrobe info that you need.

Start by saying, "Alexa, what should I wear today?" It will then give you the weather forecast and an outfit based on the weather. For example, on a hot day Alexa may tell you to consider a white dress or gray shirt and linen shorts.

Want to know more things you can do with your Amazon Echo? Check out these six essential Amazon Echo tips you'll use daily, how to turn your Fire TV into a larger Echo Show and how you can still use your Echo when you're not home.