It’s passed one year, Amazon Echo turned one-year-old winning the hearts of millions of people, and she is growing and improvising day by day. Yes, in late November 2014, Alexa (Amazon Echo) made her debut in the US and many didn’t know what to do with this speaking gadget. Meantime, Amazon tested thousands of Alexa consumers and improved her over time, adding features and enhancing her listening capabilities.
She responds to your commands, but she will be quiet when you ask inane questions, never mind she may do that too in near future. Amazon has constantly kept her busy adding new features since her launch. The Amazon Echo is more than a speaker, she listen to you, talk to you, play music for you, reports traffic, weather, local business info, controls lights, places order for you, and a hell lot more.
She is purely designed around your voice and works at the moment when she detects the wake word – Alexa or Amazon. She requires a WIFI connection to work. You can use Alexa app to connect with her anytime, anywhere, which works based on clouding. For instance, if you are in the grocery store, your family members can update the shopping list right from home talking to Alexa and you will be able to view it on your iPhone or Android phone.
What else will Alexa do? Here I have listed some of the primary features that you must know so that you can work with her better than ever.
IFTTT (“If This, Then That”)
It’s a predefined feature that you can command Alexa to do. All you have to do is to create a To Do list, add predefined functions. It provokes every time you say “Alexa, trigger + blah blah blah”. For instance, if you set the phrase as “Party time”, you can say “Alexa, trigger party time,” it will create an atmosphere for a part celebration with “Philips hue” that is already integrated to control it.
You have to create To Dos so-called “recipes” as Amazon say and just simple trigger them to make it happen.
Play music and listen to audio books
Currently, Alexa supports Prime Music, Pandora, iHeartRadio, TuneIn, Audible and Amazon Music. Also, you can stream music from your phone through supported apps such as Spotify and iTunes by enabling Bluetooth.
You can ask her to connect to your Bluetooth devices and you will be connected within seconds. You can do anything such as play, pause, repeat, skip and many more just by commanding her. You can even control volume levels.
It’s not possible to input everything at once into your shopping list. Now, you can create a shopping list in Alexa and you can add anything you wish anytime.
“Alexa add milk, eggs, olive oil, and onions to my shopping list”
Find local businesses, sports update, weather and traffic reports and many more…
You can get info on local businesses, restaurants, sports update, weather update, traffic reports so on. The list will be a lengthy one. Just ask her and you will have the info in seconds.
“Alexa, find me a nearby Chinese restaurant.”
“Alexa, what are the hours for a nearby pharmacy?”
“Alexa, how is traffic?”
“Alexa, how is weather?”
Set alarms and timers
You can use Alexa to set timers and alarms. Want to listen to music before you fall asleep, just say, “Alexa, set a sleep timer for 30 minutes.” Are you cooking? Set multiple timers till your recipe is done. Are two people waking up at different times? Set multiple alarms.
The list never ends. Use the Echo for your daily activities. You can teach the Echo how to understand you better using a Voice Training feature in the app. Though it’s a stunning device, it has its own drawbacks. I wouldn’t rather say cons; it’s something that Amazon should take into consideration when they release new versions.
It has to be plugged in at all times. It would be better with a wireless rechargeable one. As of now, it supports only English. If you are slow in talking, the Echo finds it difficult to handle it. Since everything is cloud stored, you can’t use it in offline mode. When you are in a store where there is no network, you can’t retrieve your shopping list. As it is integrated with Alexa app in your phone, a copy of useful things like shopping list should be stored in your phone.
I believe that the Echo is an amazing digital assistant that I have never come across. Once you are used to it, you would never abandon it at any cost. The Amazon Echo carries a price tag of $180 plus free shipping within the US. So, grab yours now.