To me, it’s turning off the music “- the phrase Alexa always misunderstands. A phone call comes in, I tell her to turn off the music and suddenly the volume goes up just as I swipe to answer the phone. A moment of chaos occurs as I struggle to lower the volume manually while apologizing to my colleague at the other end of the line. Under snafu is a brief but embarrassing visceral feeling of anger at this lifeless Amazon Echo ($ 34 on Amazon) speaker.
OK, it̵7;s usually not that bad, but miscommunication with voice assistants can be an added pain during already stressful times. Fortunately, I have picked up some practical tricks over the years. Whether you are a beginner in using Alexa or an experienced early adopter, these changes will definitely make your interactions with your voice assistant.
Just stop ‘
Tyler Lizenby / CNET
The simplest but possibly most useful advice I can give is to lean hard to “stop”. Of course we want to talk more casually with Alexa and ask her to turn off the music or the alarm, but often – especially when we are a room away or we shout over sounds from Echo itself – just saying “Alexa, stop” is the most effective way to get her to stop whatever she does.
Edit your routines
Ry Crist / CNET
This trick came from my colleague Ry Crist, who uses his Amazon Echo for smarter home control than I do: If you get Alexa to misunderstand your commands, there’s a simple fix. Suppose you have smart light bulbs in the hall, but when you ask Alexa to turn them on, she says she does not see any “holiday lighting”. Instead of aggressively notifying her until she gets it right, go into the Alexa app, tap “More” and then “Routines.” From here, you can add a new routine that allows “Turn on the holiday lighting” to turn on your hall lighting. Problem solved.
Update your voice profile
Chris Monroe / CNET
Alexa may have asked you to create a voice profile when you set up your Amazon Echo for the first time, and if you’re like me, you may have skipped the complaining of extra steps. Well, it turns out that going back to set that voice profile – or adding one yourself if you’re not the primary user on your Amazon Echo – can improve your communication with Alexa.
Not only do you get more personal daily reviews (Alexa skips stories you’ve already heard, for example), but you also get more personal skills experience from third parties. My wife and I use the 7-minute workout ability fairly regularly, for example, but we have different fitness levels. So when we use the app, she wants a much more accurate training than me. The simple solution? You guessed it: voice profiles.
Test Alexa Blueprints
Chris Monroe / CNET
Alexa Blueprints are a little more involved to use than some of the other tricks above, but they also offer the most personalized experience with Alexa. Essentially, Blueprints let you program your own questions and answers in your smart assistant. This means that babysitters can ask Alexa when bedtime is rather than texting you in the middle of your date. Or if you are an Airbnb host, your visitors can ask Alexa for recommended restaurants in the area or check-out times.
More complex drawings are also available if you want to create your own adventure game or create a series of flash cards to study. All you have to do is log in to your Amazon account on Blueprint’s website, build your applications and then test them with Echo devices on your account.
Have you found your own tricks to get Alexa to respond more efficiently? Let me know in the comments.