The shelter-in-place lifestyle is a strange one to which many of us are still getting accustomed. Normal sleep schedules vanish, the commute to work becomes from-bed-to-couch, and we consume news endlessly, with a focus on one never-ending story. Social distancing orders are vitally important, but they can also take a lot of getting used to. Fortunately, your Alexa devices are here to help.
Alexa now sports a host of brand new skills and features that are tailor-made for those of us stuck inside our homes. Here’s a breakdown of some of Alexa’s newest powers and how to use them, along with a few of our own recommendations for ways to smart-shelter with your Echo Dot.
This is a great new Alexa feature for those of us falling out of our daily flow or anyone looking to add some extra structure to their life at home. The new Stay at Home and Work from Home routines turn
Adding the routine is a cinch. Grab your phone and open up your Alexa app. On the homepage, tap the Menu icon at the top left of the screen, then select Routines. On the next page, tap Features. Both new routines are located at the bottom of the Recommended section.
Tap whichever one you want to enable. On the next screen, switch the toggle button from Disabled to Enabled. That’s all there is to it. From here, feel free to customize the individual commands as you see fit. Here’s a snapshot of both routines side-by-side. They’re pretty similar, so if you plan on using both, customizing the commands will be worth it.
Not sure how to properly disinfect your home? No problem. The next time you’re near your Echo or scrolling through your Fire TV, say, “Alexa, give me tips for cleaning.”
Speaking of disinfection: Can Alexa help disinfect me? We’re glad you asked, and (in a manner of speaking) the answer is yes. In the U.S., Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, India, and the U.K., say, “
If you’re looking for a quick news update, Alexa has got you covered. If you’ve got a Fire TV or Echo Show, the next time you’re plopped on the couch, just say “Alexa, play the CDC video,” and Alexa will pull up the latest public service addresses from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Those with an Echo Show can also request the latest headlines from CBS by saying, “Alexa, play news from CBS.” If you’ve tried to shop for groceries (or that impossible-to-find toilet paper), you’ll know that many store hours are changing so personnel have more time to properly restock and disinfect.
Before you head out for your next grocery haul, you can ask Alexa about new store hours by saying things like, “
Stay in touch
Social distancing is keeping many of us away from our friends and families, but Alexa can help you bridge the gap. If both you and a loved one own an Echo Show device, you can easily make video calls by saying, “
Better yet, if you personally own more than one Echo device, you can use the Drop In feature to check on someone in your home that may be sick or if you simply want to see what the kids are up to downstairs. Just say, “Alexa, drop in on [name of room or Echo device].” If you just want to let everyone in the house know it’s dinnertime, you can make one giant, shared announcement to all of your Echo devices by saying, “
This section could also be called “Stay Sane.” Being trapped at home loses its impromptu vacation charm pretty quickly. Fortunately, Alexa is loaded with plenty of skills to keep your mind engaged and spirits high. For starters, SiriusXM is offering a boatload of stations for free through May 15. To enable, just add the Sirius skill to your Alexa app and then say, “
If you’ve still got the blues after all that, just say, “Alexa, play music,” to be treated to a rotating selection of free top playlists and stations. Turn things up to 11 by saying, “
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