Adding a screen to Amazon’s newest Alexa voice assistant means that the Echo Show can do some things the speaker alone can’t. Whether you want to watch a TV show, get a cooking tutorial, or see your calendar, the Amazon Echo Show can help out. Developers are racing to catch up on new capabilities rolling in after the device’s launch. Here are a few things you can now do with the Echo Show — just remember that you have to enable these skills in your app. We’ll update as the Show learns new tricks.
Need to see the news? Bloomberg and CNN both have updated skills that allow you to watch what’s happening in the world. Say, “Alexa, open CNN” or “Alexa, open Bloomberg” for a briefing. CNBC, People Magazine and “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” also have flash briefings. If you’d prefer to escape from the real world for a bit, you can say things like “Alexa, play “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2” or any of Prime’s other great movies. YouTube videos work, too. “Alexa, play [insert song name here] on YouTube” will bring up some choices, although it’s not as easy to find a specific video due to the volume of selections available.
Following Alexa’s verbal cues for a recipe can be a bit difficult, so Allrecipes and Food Network are taking advantage of the screen to show you visual guides as you cook. Tell Alexa to “ask Food Network for vegetarian lasagna recipes,” and the Echo Show brings up Alexa’s top picks. You can select a recipe and sometimes watch a video of a chef making the recipe. The Food Network skill can email you the full recipe with step-by-step instructions, while on screen you’ll see the ingredient list, difficulty level, rating, chef’s name, and photo.
With the OpenTable skill, you ask Alexa to book a reservation at a restaurant. The display will then show you available times, so you can select which one you want.
Amazon thinks looking at a few days of weather forecasts is easier than hearing them read aloud. Same with your calendars — if you have your Google or Outlook account synced. Some skills aren’t fully ready for Show-time, so the Jeopardy! skill, for example, just reads the clues and displays them on screen.
The Echo Show works with a few security cameras, so you can see the feed on the 7-inch touchscreen. Vivint, August Home, Nest, Amcrest, EZViz, IC Realtime, Ring, Logitech, and Arlo make cameras or video doorbells that work with the device. Nest Cam also works with Petnet, a smart pet feeder. You can direct Alexa to ask Petnet to feed your kitty a cup of food or view your pup if she triggers Nest’s motion alarm.
All Alexa devices now have the ability to call other Alexa devices, but only the Show lets you do video calling. You can see which of your contacts have an Echo, Dot, or Show in the app and then give them a ring. There’s also a “drop-in” feature that doesn’t give the other party a chance to reject your call. It’s meant to be a video intercom feature that can be used by people to check in on their elderly parents — even if they live in another state. It’s got some people spooked about hacking, though Amazon says it’s safe. Some are also a bit leery of the Show’s always-on camera. You can press the mute button at the top to turn off the mic and camera, but there’s no privacy shutter like the family-friendly Nucleus intercom.