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7 things you didn’t know your Amazon Alexa smart display could do

Everyone knows the Echo Show can walk you through recipes, drop-in to chat with relatives, and let you control your smart home with just a few taps of a button. But did you know that it has a lot of lesser-known features, too?

While these aren’t exactly hidden features, they aren’t as well-known as many of the mainstream features the Echo Show is capable of. You might find that your Amazon Alexa smart display is can do much more than you thought.

Alexa can make restaurant reservations

You don’t have to navigate complicated audio menus or wade through incomprehensible websites to secure a table for date night. Thanks to the OpenTable Skill with Alexa, you can make restaurant reservations straight from your Echo Show.

All you have to do is say, “Alexa, ask OpenTable to get me a table” or “Alexa, ask OpenTable to make a reservation.” Give the name of the restaurant as well as the date and time of your reservation and you’re off to the races — or maybe just off to dinner.

Alexa can act as a baby monitor

Let’s say you’re a new parent with an abundance of security cameras but not an abundance of cash to purchase a dedicated baby monitor. After all, diapers are absurdly expensive. Alexa can act as a baby monitor — just set up an Alexa-compatible security camera in your child’s nursery, like the Logitech Circle 2, and then you can display the livestream on your Echo Show.

Amazon Echo Show Review Baby
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Alexa works with a huge number of brands of security cameras including Ring, Nest, Logitech, Netgear, and more. Just ask Alexa to display the feed from your security camera on your Echo Show and you can keep an eye on your baby while they nap.

Alexa can make Zoom calls

Zoom was the poster child of 2020 and is one of the most-used video conferencing apps on the market today. The problem is that it takes up a lot of screen real estate if you’re using a monitor. Instead, display it on the Echo Show — specifically the Echo Show 8 and Echo Show 10 (3rd Gen), which are the only two that currently support it.

John Velasco / Digital Trends

You can join Zoom meetings, start calls, and much more with just your voice. It’s an easy way to keep your computer screen clear so you can research the topic or reference your notes during a meeting.

Alexa can sound like Samuel L. Jackson

If you’re tired of the same freaking voice on your same freaking smart speaker, good news: Alexa can sound like a celebrity. You can change your Alexa’s voice to sound just like Samuel L. Jackson.

Though the voice only works for certain commands, there’s still a certain amount of hilarity associated with asking your smart display a question and getting a response from the king of attitude. You can even say, “Hey Samuel” to trigger the assistant, rather than the far-more-common “Hey Alexa.”

And if you have kids around the house, even better news: You can turn off Jackson’s trademark potty mouth on your Alexa. There’s a cost of $3 to B089NGHR7K, but it’s well worth it.

Alexa can update you on traffic conditions

If you’re like most people, you have at least two different ways of getting to work — the “fast” way that takes you straight there, and the “better” way that avoids traffic backups. The last thing you want is to head out the door without knowing the kind of traffic to expect.

All you have to do is ask, “Alexa, how is traffic?” Of course, you’ll need to set up your starting point and ending points within the Settings menu. Alexa will suggest the fastest route to work if traffic is backed up on your normal route.

Alexa can enter Do Not Disturb mode

A smart display in your bedroom gives you easy access to YouTube, Prime Video, and a lot of other entertainment options, but it also means your slumber might be interrupted by unwanted notifications.

Amazon Echo Show 5
Amazon Echo Show 5 Image used with permission by copyright holder

Instead of falling victim to irritating announcements in the middle of the night, you can put your Alexa smart display into Do Not Disturb mode. This mode silences notifications as long as it’s active and includes a brightness slider.

You can adjust the brightness level so the clock doesn’t wake you throughout the night or interfere with your REM sleep.

Alexa can help you communicate with others without using voice

Often, we think of our smart assistants as purely voice-controlled technology, but that isn’t always the case. The Echo Show has an on-screen keyboard that can be activated through the Accessibility menu.

Swipe down from the top of the screen and tap Settings > Accessibility and scroll down until you see Tap to Alexa. Toggle the slide to the on position and then tap Continue.

A small icon appears in the lower-left corner of the screen. Tap it open a new menu and then tap the Quick Question icon to bring up the on-screen keyboard.

You can give commands to your smart home, ask Alexa to perform tasks, and much more. You can also do this straight from the Alexa app on your smartphone.

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Patrick Hearn
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Patrick Hearn writes about smart home technology like Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, smart light bulbs, and more. If it's a…
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