Do you have a new Alexa speaker? Or considering getting one – like Amazon Echo Plus ($ 120 on Amazon) or Echo Input ($ 20 on Amazon) ?
There are many these smart speakers can do – so much so that it can feel overwhelming to find out where to start. Instead of digging the Alexa app, looking for features, check out the top 10 tips and tricks to get started.
first Calling Phone Calls (Virtually Fixed Calls)
Just when you thought phones were dead, Amazon takes them back. Alexa can now be used to call other Alexa devices in other homes. And, like answering machines from 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 think it's a wonderful and welcome feature, provided my parents don't use it to check in on me too often …
2. Control Your Smart Home
It's probably what Alexa is best at controlling your lights, door locks, appliances, switches, and other smart home devices. You can browse the smart home compatibility tool to see what Alexa is working on, but here are some ideas to get started:
- Control your lights. You can ask Alexa to turn on or off light. She will also change the color if the lamps change color.
- Open or close your garage door . Smart garage door opener like works with Alexa.
- Change the temperature . "Hi Alexa, set the temperature to 68." and are just a few thermostats that work with Alexa.
3rd Get cooking ideas and tips
No, Alexa can't cook for you (yet), but she definitely makes it easier and less stressful. I personally hold Alexa in the kitchen to do things like:
- Download conversions. "Alexa, how many tablespoons in a quarter bowl?"
- Question by recipe . Alexa can get recipes from AllRecipes. She can also be used to follow the recipes step by step on your iPad with GoodNes.
- Play music. "Hi Alexa, play a bit of even jazz." Because cooking is more fun with music!
- Control a sous vide machine . If you cook, you can ask Alexa to set the temperature.
- Set a timer . You can set several hours and ask her about the remaining time.
Here's our longer list of all Alexa can do in the kitchen (and how it works.)
4. Get the news
When you get ready for work or come home after a long day, Alexa can let you know what's going on in the world. This is called your Flash Briefing and can be customized to include the news sources you want to hear from. What are you saying? Want to hear CNET News? No problem – here you go.
5th Maintain your children for hours at the end
Actually more like "let your children enjoy themselves." Alexa is full of games, Easter eggs, stupid answers to stupid questions and much more. Here are some ways Alexa can keep your kids busy:
- Play games . This guide contains some of our favorite Amazon Echo ($ 70 on Amazon) game.
- Find Easter Egg . Alexa loves a good inner joke.
- Set timers and play music . Children will quickly learn how to talk to Alexa and can ask her about timers, music and random trivia.
6th Learn more about features
If Alexa can't do something out of the box, it's probably a skill for it. There are so many skills that Amazon has done something called a Skill Finder, which you can use to find Skills. Start by saying, "Alexa, Open Skill Finder" or "Alexa, tell Skill Finder to give me today's skill".
Here are 35 of our favorite Alexa skills.
7th Take Care (or Try)
While you can't take Alexa to the gym (if you don't have a crane, of course) you can get her to give you workouts and feedback. Here are some ways she can help you recover:
- Check your FitBit statistics. When you sync your FitBit with Alexa, there are many things you can ask, "Alexa, ask FitBit how I do today."
- Get Nutrition Information . "Alexa, how many calories in a banana?"
- Make a workout. After activating the 7 Minute Workout skill, just say, "Alexa, start 7 minutes of training."
8th Control your TV
Forget about digging for the remote control – Alexa can control your TV almost entirely by voice. The setting takes some time (and money), but once you've 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 need a(you can also purchase the hub separately). Then follow this manual.
ninth Use Spotify to play music
By default, Alexa plays music via Amazon Music, for obviously. But if you use Spotify, you can change this setting so that Alexa uses Spotify as the default player. Here's how.
However, Alexa has more built-in features for Amazon Music. For example, you can ask Alexa for today's song, and she'll play it for you.
10th Train Alexa to do virtually anything else
Alexa can't talk to every device or site – many companies just haven't boarded yet. Similarly, not all features of supported smart home devices can be controlled with Alexa. However, there is a solution that allows you to connect Alexa to undisturbed devices, apps and websites. It's called IFTTT.
So, for example, you can use IFTTT to create a "rule" that changes the color of your light bulb when your timer is up. It's not something you can only ask Alexa to do – you have to program it via IFTTT. If you're ready to visit, our favorite Alexa IFTTT recipe is.
CNET Smart Living Guide: Everything you need to know to live smarter.
Smart Home 101: How to create your own smart home.