Amazon Alexa is one of the most popular smart assistants available. With support for a wide range of devices and the ability to check the news, give a quick update on your favorite sports team, or perform hundreds of other tasks, it’s an incredibly useful piece of software. But it’s the support for smart home products that really makes Alexa compelling, as it can quickly send commands to most devices and gives you remote access to all your gadgets.
If you’ve never used an Alexa-enabled device before, it’s worth taking a few minutes to customize it. Tap the Three-line menu icon in the bottom-right corner of the screen to access the following:
- Routines: Alexa lets you set up a series of actions to perform at specific times or under specific circumstances so you can use a single command to turn on lights, switch on a radio station, turn up the heat, and other actions with a single command. The app recommends featured sequences like “Alexa, good morning” and “Alexa, I’m home,” for example.
- Reminders: You can set reminders for meetings or appointments on specific times or days, or just ask Alexa to remind you to do something regularly, such as take a pill every morning.
- Alarms and Timers: You can add an alarm directly from the app or adjust alarms and timers you’ve set using your Alexa-supported device — for example, cancel or make adjustments to a timer.
- Lists and Notes: Here’s where you’ll see items you’ve added (via voice command) to your Amazon shopping and to-do list from the Alexa app.
- Skills and Games: You can browse, enable, and manage the thousands of third-party apps that extend Alexa’s functionality from categories like Business and Finance, Food and Drink, Health and Fitness, and many more. See which ones you’ve installed by tapping the Your skills button in the top-right corner of the screen.
- Settings: This menu lets you set up your profile, location, and preferences like Music and Podcasts, TV and Video, Sports, Reminders, Photos, Notifications, and more.
- See More: Select this to open a drop-down menu with other options you can set up, including Find My, Workout, Things to Try, and Blueprints, which allows you to create personalized skills.
You can tap the Three-line menu icon, and select Settings to review your various Alexa-enabled devices and set names for them, as well as locations, time zones, and preferences for temperature and distance measurement units.
The Alexa app can tell the time, deliver a weather report, or provide daily sports and news summary from NPR, CNN, the Associated Press, and more. Here are some commands that Alexa supports:
- Alexa, what’s the time?
- Alexa, what’s the latest news?
- Alexa, flip a coin.
- Alexa, 10 dollars to pounds.
- Alexa, 15 times 32.
- Alexa, how’s the weather outside today?
- Alexa, set a timer [X] minutes.
- Alexa, add milk to my shopping list.
- Alexa, what’s on my calendar?
- Alexa, start a seven-minute workout.
- Alexa, tell a bedtime story to [your child’s name].
The Alexa app is compatible with Amazon’s Kindle and Audible services. If you ask, “
You can pair a variety of home appliances and electronics with the Alexa app, not to mention commands over your automobiles. If you have a Philips Hue or Samsung SmartThings device,
Alexa and Amazon’s shopping platforms are tightly integrated, allowing you to place an order for anything on Amazon Prime, including Amazon Fresh groceries, Amazon Prime Pantry non-perishables, and Amazon Prime Now 2-hour delivery items. You can pull up the status of shipments due for arrival with the simple verbal command, “
Many apps fall within Amazon’s collection of skills, meaning that Alexa can enable these apps through voice recognition. A particularly useful one is the Chef app, which can read recipes, send shopping lists, and track expiration dates. Uber and Lyft’s apps can summon rides to your approximate location and Fitbit’s app can tell you how many steps you’ve taken. The Capital One app details your bank balance, while apps from Dominos, Pizza Hut, and Grubhub allow you to get food delivered.
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