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Alexa can save your life by telling you if severe weather is coming

Tornados, like the one that recently hit Nashville, Tennessee, can happen any time of year, according to the National Centers for Environmental Information. They can also occur just about anywhere in the country. Early warning is important with an impending tornado, or any type of major weather event such as flooding, strong winds, and hail because it gives you time to take shelter. While you can get severe weather alerts through your phone with apps, Alexa has a new feature that may save lives as well.

Alexa in a storm
Composite photo with images by Moritz Böing and Amazon

Now you can get severe weather alerts from Alexa, which can be particularly useful if you tend to have your phone on silent while you sleep or work.  To set up the feature say, “Alexa, tell me when there’s a severe weather alert.” The next time there is a local severe weather warning, Alexa will let you know. Don’t worry, if you find you don’t like the alerts, you can turn them off by simply saying, “Alexa, turn off severe weather alerts.”

This isn’t the only new Alexa feature revealed recently. You can also now ask Alexa to send you information about your daily commute, traffic conditions, or directions to a destination to your phone, so as you leave the house you can take all of your important information with you. To use this feature ask Alexa what information you need, then tell her to send it to your phone. For example, you could ask, “Alexa, how is the traffic to the airport?” When you get the answer you simply say, “Alexa, send that to my phone.” After a confirmation from Alexa, you’ll get a notification on your phone. In this example, tapping on the notification would send route guidance to the airport to your phone’s map app.

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Another new feature is for basketball fans, just in time for March Madness. Miss a game or want to relive a great moment? You can now watch NBA game highlights on Alexa devices that have a screen, like the Echo Show. To see clips say, “Alexa, play the (your favorite team) highlights.” Then, the highlights from your team’s most recent game will play on the screen. If you want the best clips from all of the recent games throughout the league say, “Alexa, play the NBA highlights.”

Alina Bradford
Alina Bradford has been a tech, lifestyle and science writer for more than 20 years. Her work is read by millions each month…
Lonely this Valentine’s Day? Alexa can help you feel better
lonely this valentines day alexa can help you feel better amazon echo dot plum on dresser

Valentine's Day doesn't need to be lonely this year. You have Alexa, and even though Amazon's virtual assistant isn't a real person, there are a lot of ways Alexa can help you through this February 14. Here are some things to try if you find yourself feeling down.

Link up, even when you're far apart
Seeing a friendly face is always a good way to boost your spirits. Even if you and your best friends, family member, or sweetheart are separated by miles or trapped at home with a cold, you can all still feel like you're in the same room, chatting it up by using your video-enabled Alexa device to make video calls. Though you'll get the best experience with an Echo Show, you and your loved one can use the Alexa app to make video calls, too. Just go to the app, tap on the person you want to contact and choose the video chatting option.
Use your imagination
If reading a trashy novel to give yourself vicariously the romance you need isn't your thing, then maybe try a game. The Alexa skill MyCrush by Is It Love? is a kind of mashup between the Sims video game crossed with a Choose Your Own Adventure book combined with a romance novel. All played out in your imagination, though, with a little help from Alexa. Using the skill, you go on dates with imaginary people and choose how the romance progresses.
Listen to a story
If there's nothing on TV and you're sitting around bemoaning your love life, have Alexa tell you a story to occupy your night. The Story Stream skill has stories in many different genres to suit your mood, including paranormal, thrillers, horror, Creepypasta, sci-fi and comedy.
Do something for someone
Sometimes helping someone else can boost your spirits like nothing else. You can show a little love to someone in need this Valentine's Day with the help of the Daily Kindness skill. It gives 50 different suggestions on how you can randomly help a person around you.
Share the love
Even if you don't have a romantic love, it doesn't mean you can't share love this Valentine's Day. The Share Worldwide skill is basically an audio message board. You can listen to the message the last person left and leave your own for others to hear. It's a great way to spread kindness and uplifting messages between strangers anonymously. It's a little connection that can make you, and others, feel good, no matter what day it is.

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You can now scan bar codes for your grocery list with the Amazon Echo Show
Barcode on a cookie pack

Amazon.com announced their fourth-quarter sales are up 21% to $87.4 billion and, interestingly, they revealed that people talk to Alexa billions of times per week. While Alexa's abilities haven't reached the billions yet, they are now one feature closer. In addition to being able to give medication reminders and order refills, order pizza, pay utility bills, and purchase fuel at more than 11,500 Exxon and Mobil stations, the smart assistant can scan, too. Now when you need to add a new item to your grocery list, you can scan the item's bar code by holding it up in front of your Echo Show 5 and Echo Show 8. This new feature was announced in the What's New with Alexa Monthly Roundup for January.

 

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Alexa can now show more emotion when your sports team loses
Echo Alexa

Folks who converse with Alexa on a regular basis may be interested to know that Amazon’s voice-activated digital assistant will soon be putting a lot more feeling into her responses.

The team behind the smart technology has been making gradual adjustments to Alexa since its launch in 2014, and these latest changes continue that work.

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