There's a lot these smart speakers can do -- so much so that it can feel overwhelming to figure out where to start. Rather than dig around theapp looking for features, check out the 10 best tips and tricks to get you started.
Read more:announced several and features at its September 2021 invite-only , including a new smart display and the feature.
1. Make phone calls (basically, landline calls)
Just when you thought house phones were dead, Amazon brings them back. Alexa can now be used to make calls to other Alexa devices in other houses. And, like the answering machines of the '90s and '00s, you can even leave a message.
Just note that anyone who has your number can call your Alexa speaker, but.
I happen to think it's a wonderful and welcome feature, provided my parents don't use it to check in on me too often...
And what if you lose your phone?.
2. Control your smart home
Controlling your appliances, switches and other is probably what Alexa is best at doing. You can browse the to see what Alexa works with, but here are some ideas to get you started:, door locks,
- Control your lights. You can ask Alexa to turn lights on or off. She'll even if the lights are color-changing.
- Open or close your garage door. like work with Alexa.
- Change the temperature. "Hey Alexa, set the temperature to 68." $60 smart thermostat device works with Alexa, according to Dave Limp, Amazon senior vice president for devices and services, and is meant to work with most existing HVAC systems (the product is available now for preorder and is scheduled to be released Nov. 4.). , and are just a few that work with Alexa. Amazon also recently unveiled the . The
3. Get cooking ideas and tips
No, Alexa can't actually cook for you (yet), but she definitely. I personally keep Alexa in the kitchen to do things like:
- Get conversions. "Alexa, how many tablespoons in a quarter cup?"
- Ask for recipes. Alexa can get recipes from AllRecipes. She can also be used to follow recipes step-by-step on your iPad with GoodNes.
- Play music. "Hey Alexa, play some smooth jazz." Because cooking is more fun with music!
- Control a sous vide machine. If you cook sous vide, you can ask Alexa to set the temperature.
- Set a timer. You can set multiple timers and ask her for time remaining.
Here's our longer list of(and how it all works.)
4. Get the news
As you get ready for work or arrive home after a long day, Alexa can let you know what's happening in the world. This is called your here you go.and to include the news sources you want to hear from. What's that you say? You want to hear CNET News? No problem --
5. Entertain your kids for hours on end
Actually, more like, "let your kids entertain themselves." Alexa is full of games, Easter eggs, silly answers to silly questions and much more. Here are some ways Alexa can keep your kids busy:
- . This guide includes .
- . Alexa loves a good inside joke.
- Set timers and play music. Kids will quickly learn how to talk to Alexa and can ask her for timers, music and random trivia.
6. Learn about more features
If Alexa can't do something out of the box,. There are so many Skills, in fact, that Amazon made something called a Skill Finder, which you can use to, um, find Skills. Launch it by saying, "Alexa, open Skill Finder" or "Alexa, tell Skill Finder to give me the skill of the day."
7. Get fit (or try to)
While you can't take Alexa to the gym (unless you have a Tap, of course), you can get her to give you fitness feedback and guidance. Here are some ways she can help you get healthy:
- Check on your FitBit stats. Once you sync your FitBit with Alexa, there are , like, "Alexa, ask FitBit how I'm doing today."
- Get nutrition information. "Alexa, how many calories in a banana?"
- Do a workout. After enabling the 7 Minute Workout skill, just say, "Alexa, Start 7 Minute Workout."
Want more fitness help? Starting in 2022, Amazon is going all-in on health and fitness. At the annualin September 2021, the company announced , a platform full of fitness content from top instructors, and Halo Nutrition, a service providing personalized tools to help you eat better. These services are designed to work with the newly updated .
8. Control your TV
Forget digging around for the remote -- Alexa can control your TV almost entirely by voice. The setup takes a bit of time (and money), but once you're set up, you can say things like:
- Alexa, turn on the TV.
- Alexa, turn on Netflix.
- Alexa, tell Harmony to pause
To do this, you'll need a(you can also buy the Hub separately). Then .
You can also.
9. Use Spotify to play music
By default, Alexa plays music through Amazon Music, because obviously. But if you use Spotify, you can.
Alexa does have more built-in features for Amazon Music, however. For example, you can ask Alexa for the song of the day, and she'll play it for you.
10. Train Alexa to do practically anything else
Alexa can't talk to every device or website -- many companies just haven't gotten on board yet. Likewise, not all features of supported smart home devices can be controlled with Alexa. However, there is a workaround that lets you connect Alexa to unsupported devices, apps and websites. It's called IFTTT.
So, for example, you can use IFTTT to create a "rule" that changes your light bulbs' color when your timer is up. That's not something you can simply ask Alexa to do -- you have to program it through IFTTT. If you're ready to take the plunge, here are .
Get more from Alexa
First published May 11, 2017 at 8 a.m. EST.