More and more people are integrating Alexa into their daily lives. We use the assistant to perform tasks ranging from setting our morning alarm to turning off our lights before bed. Amazon’s voice assistant comes out with new features pretty regularly, and the assistant has gone from a voice service that can perform a few tricks to a truly useful smart assistant. Newer features like whisper mode made it so we don’t have to wake up those around us to talk to Alexa, Alexa Blueprints made it possible for us to create our own custom skills, and the ability to create routines made it possible for us to control multiple smart devices with a single command.
In 2019, you can do even more with Alexa than ever before. We’ve created a guide on the best new Alexa features. Here are some new things to try with Alexa in 2019.
Using a music service other than Amazon Music hasn’t always come easy with Alexa. But, you can now listen to your Apple Music playlist with Alexa if you link your account through the Alexa app. Of course, you can also use other services (like Spotify, Pandora, Vevo, and more), but the addition of Apple Music was truly exciting news for a lot of customers.
If you’re looking for something to watch, you can have Alexa help you find a movie or show by asking her questions like “Alexa, what movies are on TV tonight?” or “Alexa, what crime shows are playing right now?”
Many Alexa users take advantage of flash briefings to get tidbits of news from their favorite media outlets. Alexa can now provide longer, better flash briefings. So, if you want to catch up on the world of sports, you can simply say “Alexa, play news from ESPN,” and you’ll get long-form sports news. You can also ask Alexa to “play news from CNN,” and you’ll get a lengthy summary of what’s happening in the news.
“Alexa, when is the next Halo game coming out?” Alexa can tell you when video games are releasing, and she can even provide reviews. Ask Alexa “How good is Red Dead Redemption 2?” and she’ll let you know rankings and reviews. If you add the Xbox skill, you can pair your controller, find our the latest games in Xbox Game Pass, and stay up to date on what your friends are playing.
Routines have made it a lot easier to control your smart home without a hub. You can have all of the connected lights in your home turn off when you say, “Alexa, we are going to bed,” or you can turn on the coffee maker and the lights when you say, “Alexa, start my day.” Alexa will now recommend routines when you connect a smart device, which makes setting up routines even easier.
You can also set up kid-friendly routines on your free-time enabled Echo speakers. A goodnight routine can play a voice message and turn off the lights, for instance. You can set up a wait time between actions when creating routines now too. So, you can say “Alexa, good morning,” and have the assistant turn on the lights, wait 15 minutes, then start the coffee maker. Plus, since you can make announcements with routines, you can set up a dinner bell and announce dinnertime through all your Echo devices.
The “call my phone” feature is incredibly helpful for those who lose their phone regularly. If you say, “Alexa, call my phone,” and Alexa will call your phone anytime you can’t locate your device. There are other “find my phone” skills for Alexa, but the “call my phone” feature is more reliable and easier to use.
In addition to finding your phone, you probably already know that Alexa can also make calls for you. However, Alexa can now look up local business listings and call those businesses, too.
You can now connect Alexa to your email account and have the assistant help manage your email and calendar. You can have Alexa read your emails and even reply. Don’t want others in your home checking your email? You can set up a four-digit code that you have to recite each time you use the email feature. Since you can connect Alexa to your email account calendar, you can also have Alexa check your calendar and add events.
Alexa has also improved its reminders. You can set location-based reminders and have Alexa send them to your phone. You can say things like “Alexa, remind me to take out the roast when I get home,” or “Alexa, remind me to talk to my boss when I get to work.”
Privacy has been an ongoing concern for Alexa users. But, Amazon is rolling out new features to make your Alexa-enabled devices more secure. You can say, “Alexa, delete everything I said today,” and erase all of your Alexa queries for the day. You can also say “Alexa, delete what I just said,” if you want to erase specific questions or commands.
Alexa Guard is a newer feature that can help enhance your home security. When enabled, Alexa can send you a notification if she hears a sound like breaking glass or a fire alarm. While it’s not a substitute for a home security system, it can provide some extra peace of mind.
Over the past few years, Alexa has gotten better and better at answering questions. Those “hmm, I don’t know that,” responses are becoming few and far between, and the assistant is answering quicker and providing better information.
You can now ask Alexa questions like, “What are the symptoms of the flu?” and she’ll provide you info from Mayo Clinic, the National Institutes of Health, or the Centers for Disease Control.
When Alexa first hit the scene, there were reports of people accidentally purchasing all sorts of items. But, when you want to make a purchase with Alexa, you can now have her check the price of just about anything. Just say “Alexa, how much is dish detergent?” and the assistant will provide you with the price and details for top result or Amazon’s choice item.
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