Alexa can do more than just help you remember to send flowers this year.
It's become a sort of holiday in its own right -- Panic Day, perhaps, or Alexa Saves the Day. Every year, the Sunday before Mother's Day, I ask with great trepidation, "Alexa, is today Mother's Day?" And every year, Alexa reminds me, "Mother's Day is seven days away… " This year, it's on Sunday, May 9.
"Whew," I always say. "Alexa, remind me to order flowers." Only this year I changed it up: "Alexa, remind me to send my mom a hug on Mother's Day." (If you're curious about how to send hugs with Alexa, keep reading.)
Now, like many folks, my mom is a boomer, which at one time meant she had the technological savvy of a garden gnome. But times have changed, and these days she's as adept at making video calls and sending Alexa hugs as any digital native. This Mother's Day, I intend to lean on technology even more than I have in years past to help bridge the 400-plus-mile distance between our respective cities.
I haven't quite decided what all I'm going to do for my mom this year, but here are my five best ideas for connecting with your mom on Mother's Day, using Alexa.
The only things I know for sure my mom really loves (besides her family, of course) are coffee and gossip, and we've already shared enough of both to last a lifetime. So, I needed some help finding a gift for Mother's Day. It just so happens that Alexa was created by the world's largest retailer, so Amazon's digital darling knows a thing or two about what kind of stuff moms like.
Start by asking, "Alexa, give me gift ideas for Mother's Day," but don't stop there. First, Alexa will send a notification to your phone with a link to Amazon's Mother's Day buying guide (we've got one of those too, by the way). While you're browsing through those listings, Alexa will regale you with gift categories for sporty moms, techie moms, moms who love to be pampered (aka, all moms), etc. After describing each one, Alexa will ask if you want to hear about a different category (say, "Alexa, next") or dive deeper into the current one ("Alexa, tell me more").
Play around for a while and you're liable to get some decent Mother's Day gift ideas. I'll admit, I was a little reluctant to test this out. But I've got to hand it to Alexa, this was a pretty fun way to shop, and Alexa came up with some great suggestions (that I can't, unfortunately, mention here -- hi, mom!) If you've got an Alexa smart display, like an Echo Show 5, 8 or 10, it helps a lot to see the gifts Alexa is describing, too.
After a year of lockdowns and social distancing, mom hugs have become a precious commodity, and not just for people like me who live far away from their moms. An Alexa hug isn't a huge deal, and it doesn't replace a real hug by any stretch, but when physical distance or health concerns get in the way of giving your mom a real hug, a virtual one is better than nothing.
It's a pretty simple thing to do -- just say, "Alexa, send my mom a hug" and confirm that Alexa has the right contact from your list. Your mom will receive a notification on her end that plays a little jingle (and an animation if she's on an Echo Show display) and lets her know you sent a hug her way. Simple. Sweet. Endearing.
If you run into any complications (Alexa doesn't know which contact belongs to your mom, or doesn't know your mom has an Alexa account, for example) check out our in-depth guide to setting up Alexa hugs here.
When I learned you can send songs with Alexa, one of the first things I did was play You and Me Against the World by Helen Reddy on my Echo Show 5 and send it to my mom. If you share a special song with your mom, you can send it to her on Mother's Day (or any day!)
Just get the song you want to send playing on your Amazon Echo device, then say, "Alexa, share this song with my mom" (or whichever contact you want to share it with -- this works for more than just moms, too). Alexa might double check the contact info, then ask if you're ready to send. Say, "Yes," and your mom will get a message on her Alexa device with the song you sent queued up.
What's great, too, is this feature seems to resolve differences in music subscriptions on its own (if you subscribe to, say, Apple Music, but your mom uses Amazon Music, Alexa resolves the difference in the background).
If you've got an Amazon Echo Show smart display, bet you didn't know you have your own personal photo booth sitting there on the countertop or table. If yours is the kind of mom who likes to use photos of her kids or grandkids as the wallpaper on her Echo Show, here's a fun, easy way to refresh her background image.
Get everyone in front of your Echo Show and say, "Alexa, take our picture." Repeat as necessary until you get the perfect shot. Then say, "Alexa, send this photo to mom."
We've almost reached peak technology when text messages and audio or video calls seem antiquated, but here we are. Don't forget you can always message, call or video call your mom, from any Alexa device to another or to the Alexa app. That means, for example, you can hop on a video call where only one person has an Echo Show smart display if the other uses the app. Here are the basic commands: