Amazon Echo is currently the number 1 bestselling high tech gadget on Amazon – but most people are still asking, “What Can Amazon Echo Do?” This post explains some of the amazing things that Amazon Echo can do. As soon as we got our Amazon Echo, we loved it. It makes a whole lot of things easier to do, and is a great addition to an ultra-modern home.
Basically, Amazon Echo is a smart speaker, but it also doubles as so much else, such as a timer, a radio, a weather forecaster, a music streamer, a book reader, and a general butler-in-chief to control your home. You speak to it to control it, and it hears you because it has seven microphones listening out for you. She knows you are addressing her when you start a sentence with her name, “Alexa.” (You can change that default.)
Alexa can hear you even when music or the TV are playing. Even better, Alexa tends to understand you almost all of the time too. Alexa also has no problem with accents that are not American. This is a huge plus to me, as I often have problems with computers such as Siri and GPS units not understanding what I am saying.
Explaining to my Mom what Amazon Echo can do
I really wanted to give Amazon Echo as a gift to my 76-year-old mom and her 82-year-old husband. Simply to make their lives easier, and to make it easier for them to listen to music or the radio by just speaking to Alexa. Like many older folk, they find it hard to keep up with ever-changing technology. I know that if I set up an Amazon Echo for them, it would enable them to have better control of their home and entertainment.
BUT I could not figure out how to explain to them exactly what Amazon Echo actually DOES. So, I decided to just SHOW my mom. Here is a video showing how I surprised my mom with my Amazon Echo. It is fun to see how she reacts to the mysterious music that suddenly floods my living room, in response to a voice command from me!
As my Mom and I agreed, Alexa is amazing. And now she will know its potential when I give her an Amazon Echo.
This next video shows a bit MORE of what Amazon Echo can do. I recorded this when Maggie (Mrs. Average Joe) had a sprained ankle. She loves music, and was able to amuse herself with an endless stream of music from Spotify, without having to actually move!
Basically, Amazon Echo (aka Alexa) responds to an amazing variety of voice commands, giving you the ability to do all kinds of things more easily.
Things You Can Say to Alexa
“Alexa, what are the news headlines today?” You can program your Amazon Echo so it knows the news channels you like, and the subjects you are interested in.
“Alexa, what is the weather like today?” (You can ask what the weather is like in almost any major city in the world.)
“Alexa, play some jazz music from Amazon Music.”
“Alexa, play Christmas classics from Spotify.”
“Alexa, volume 5.” (Alexa’s volume settings are from 1 to 10, with 10 being the loudest. She also understands louder and softer.)
“Alexa, I love you.” (Try saying that and see how she responds!)
“Alexa, set a timer for twenty minutes.”
“Alexa, set a second timer for three minutes.”
“Alexa, how do you spell futuristic?”
“Alexa, what does futuristic mean?”
“Alexa, what time is the Rangers game?” (For this, you have to link her with an appropriate app.)
“Alexa, what’s the score on the Rangers game?”
“Alexa, order me a pizza from Dominos.” (For this, you have to link her with an appropriate app.)
“Alexa, get me a car from Uber.”
“Alexa, play my favorite channel on iHeartRadio.” (For this, you have to have the free iHeartRadio app.)
“Alexa, what’s the traffic like on Main Street?”
“Alexa, read me Close to the Bone on Audible.” (For this, you have to have the free app Audible, plus buy books from Audible.com.)
“Alexa, Wikipedia Mozart!”
“Alexa, what’s on my calendar today?”
“Alexa, what’s the square root of 244?” (Alexa is great at math, but discovered Alexa doesn’t do trigonometry.)
“Alexa, add wine to the shopping list.” (As if we’d forget that!)
Yes, you can pair your Amazon Echo with a shopping list app, so that you can access your shopping list wherever you are. I had been wanting this for a long time, as I used to constantly forget my shopping list, and have to phone someone in the house to photograph it and message it to me! Here’s the photo my daughter sent me last week. At the time, peering at this photo sideways in the store, I thought, there has to be a better way – and yes, there is!
This video shows some of the super geeky things Alexa says. She really is the most advanced artificial intelligence form I have come across, and is WAY smarter than Siri.
Amazon Echo apps
Interacting with Alexa is achieved with the Alexa app, which is adding “Skills” all the time – you just have to choose which ones you want to use. Then, you ask it questions appropriately, as in:
“Alexa, ask TV Shows what time Gotham starts.”
You can run the Alexa app on your computer, or on just about any smart phone. (Although note that you can only download the Alexa app if you live in the USA or the UK. If you happen to live elsewhere on the planet, you can only control the Amazon Echo via your browser.)
Most usefully, you can say:
“Alexa, stop!” (For when you are tired of the music, the book or the radio station you are listening to, or just want to shut the device down in mid-sentence.)
Other Devices Compatible with Amazon Echo
Amazon Echo can control TP-Link Smart Plugs, Bluetooth switches, thermostats with compatible WeMo, Philips Hue lights, Samsung SmartThings Home Monitoring Kit, Wink, Insteon, Nest, ecobee smart home devices, Rachio Smart Sprinkler Controller, Ooma voip system (answering the phone).
Here’s a video showing how to set up a basic starter kit of white Philips Hue lights, and what they can do.
Other things you can say to your Amazon Echo once you have compatible devices are:
“Alexa, make some coffee.”
“Alexa, turn the heat up by two degrees.”
“Alexa, turn off all the lights.”
“Alexa, switch on the TV.”
What devices is Amazon Echo compatible with?
Amazon Echo can control TP-Link Smart Plugs, Bluetooth switches, thermostats with compatible WeMo, Philips Hue lights, Samsung SmartThings, Wink, Insteon, Nest, ecobee smart home devices, Rachio Smart Sprinkler Controller, Ooma voip system (answering the phone).
Can You Buy Things from Amazon with Your Amazon Echo?
Yes, in fact, this was one of the main objectives when it was introduced. You can buy things from Amazon.com by talking to Alexa. However, I find it too annoying. There are just too many choices and possibilities for shopping to be done verbally, at least at this point in our technological development. It could work for repeat purchases, but for anything else – I believe most people, like me, need to look at the picture and the specs.
Which Music and Radio Streaming Devices are Compatible with Amazon Echo ?
Amazon Echo can stream music via Spotify, Amazon Music, Pandora, iHeartRadio, TuneIn and a few others. Sadly, no Apple Music yet. Apple, get with the program! Really …
Of course, the list of compatible items grows constantly, thanks to the runaway success Amazon Echo is enjoying. At first a lot of people thought it was just a gimmick, but honestly, it makes everyday life so much easier – I think it is the future of our living spaces. And I’m not alone – Amazon Echo is the number one best seller on Amazon. I don’t think even Amazon thought it would be this successful! Get one and test it for yourself. Note that the cheaper Echo Dot does the same things, but does not include a speaker. It is intended as an add-on to Amazon Echo, but can also work as a stand-alone. Read more about the Echo Dot here.
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