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What can’t she do? The best ways to use Amazon’s Alexa around the house

Amazon's Alexa finally gets support for Outlook.com calendars

Whether you have an Amazon Echo, Dot, Tap, or any of the myriad devices that currently work with Alexa, there are lots of things you can ask the digital voice assistant to do. And while you likely already know she’ll read a couple lines of a Wikipedia entry or spout off a laundry list of facts, we doubt you’re aware of everything she’s capable of. That said, below are some of our favorite ways to use Alexa around the house, including the new flash briefings.

Setup

Once you get your Alexa device up and running on your Wi-Fi network, there are still a few more things you might want to do before diving in, either using echo.amazon.com or the iOS or Android app. First, if your name is Alexa, you will definitely want to change the “wake” word, which cues the device in that it should be listening. Choose your device under the settings tab, then select your desired wake word, which can either be “Amazon” or “Echo.” Yes, you can call your Amazon Dot “Echo.”

By the way, the Echo Tap now features hands-free mode, too. That means customers have the capacity to control the Tap with their voice, all without pushing the microphone button. You can enable hands-free mode by way of the Alexa App, then simply use the wake word “Alexa” to take full advantage of its capabilities.

The Tap promises up to eight hours of continuous playback while in hands-free mode, and if you want to save battery life when you’re not using it, simply tap the power button to send it to sleep. A software update will be rolling out over the next few weeks, whereupon Tap will also support Echo Spatial Perception (ESP). This means that Tap will work in settings where there are multiple Alexa-enabled devices and will respond only when appropriate.

If your significant other has significantly different musical tastes, you’ll want to set them up with a different profile. Under settings in the app, go to account, and click Household Profile. You’ll be guided through a series of steps, which include entering your loved one’s account info — meaning they’ll probably need to be there when you’re setting it up. Once that’s done, you can switch back and forth between accounts by saying, “Alexa, switch profile.”

There are also a number of third-party developers who have created skills for Alexa, from games (even bingo) to quizzes (are you master of the Seinfeld domain?) to fitness routines (like a 7-minute workout), so you’ll want to oomph up what she can do right away.

Oops, did you ask Alexa something embarrassing? You can delete individual recordings by going to Settings and History. To delete a recording, select it and click Delete voice recordings. If you want everything gone, go to www.amazon.com/myx, choose Your Devices, click on your device, hit Manage Voice Recordings, and delete them.

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