Geting Started with Amazon Alexa
Who, er, what is Amazon Alexa, you ask? Alexa is the brain behind the Amazon Echo, Amazon Echo Dot, Amazon Tap, Amazon Echo Show and the voice-controlled assistant inside the Fire TV. The female voice lives in the cloud, and is thus always up to date. This virtual personal aide learns your voice and preferences as you use her. She also has her own companion Alexa app for Android and iOS devices.
Amazon gave Alexa plenty of smarts, allowing you to control your music, news, weather, alarms, smart home devices and streaming media device with just the power of your voice. Alexa can get you directions, track your calendar, order products off of Amazon, read books, find local businesses and answer your questions by grabbing information off of Wikipedia. She can do so much that you’ll want to make sure you're taking full advantage of this personal assistant.
Before you even purchase an Alexa-enabled device, make sure you're getting the one that best suits your needs and budget.
You just bought an Amazon Fire TV, Echo or Echo Dot. Here are the settings you'll want to adjust before you start using it.
By using the Echo in conjunction with the Alexa app, you can train the personal assistant to better understand your vocal patterns.
If you'd rather not talk to Alexa, you can change the word that wakes her up to Amazon.
You don't need to keep saying "Alexa..." every time you want her to do something.
Did you know you can order stuff from Amazon just by talking to Alexa? Here's our brief explainer on Alexa Voice Shopping.
Did you—or someone else—order something on Amazon that you'd rather not have? Here's how to cancel the order, if you act fast enough.
There are a lot of things that you can ask Alexa to do; here are some of our favorites.
Making Voice and Video Calls with Alexa
You don't need an Echo in order to use Alexa; you can access the voice assistant from Amazon's Alexa app, too.
iPhone users haven't been left out! Here's how to get Alexa on your iOS device.
Personalize the background of your Echo Show by adding your own photos.
Did you know you can make voice and video calls from one Alexa device to another? Here's how it works.
If enabled, Drop-In lets other Alexa users call your Echo device unannounced. If that creeps you out, here's how to make sure that feature is turned off.
Alexa and Smart Home Devices
Now that you have an Echo, Echo Dot, or Tap, here are the best smart home devices that will work with it.
One of the most popular devices people use with Alexa is smart LED lights. Here's all of them, and what they do.
Through a free Web service called IFTTT (If This Then That), you can enable the Amazon Echo to do a lot more. Here's how to connect the two.
You can automatically change your home's lighting with a word. That's what happens when you connect the Philips Hue Lights to your Amazon Echo.
Voice control your Nest smart home thermostat by connecting the Amazon Echo to it. But first you'll want to connect the Echo to IFTTT.
Belkin's WeMo smart plugs are useful for turning a lamp or light into a smart device. Here's how to control them with Alexa.
You can have Alexa turn on (or off) connected smart home devices at certain times, or when you say a specific phrase. Here's how to set up a routine.
Using Music, Video, & Books with Alexa
It's a cinch to connect Amazon's streaming music service to Alexa, so you can request songs, playlists, and more using nothing but your voice.
The Echo puts out pretty good sound, but if you want to boost your audio, here's how to connect it to a Bluetooth speaker.
Make your Harmony Remote truly universal and voice controlled by connecting it to the Amazon Echo.
If you have more than one Echo device, you can set them up to play music throughout your house. Here's how to set it up.
You can change the default music service that plays through the Amazon Echo to be either Spotify or Pandora.
Alexa can read select Amazon Kindle books to you. Here's how.
You can adjust the bass, mid-range, and treble tones of your music with Alexa. Here's how.
Increase Your Productivity with Alexa
You can use Alexa to text someone—if you're using an Android phone. Here's how to do it.
Uber is just one of hundreds of Skills Amazon has added to Alexa. Now you can order a car simply by talking.
You can sync your Google Calendar, Apple Calendar, and Microsoft Calendar with Alexa, so you can add events, look them up, and get reminders about upcoming appointments.
Todoist is a great tool for creating and managing to-do lists. Here's how to sync the service with Alexa.
Other Fun Things to do with Alexa
By connecting your Fitbit to the Amazon Echo you can simply ask Alexa how you're tracking without ever checking the app or looking at your wrist.
Everyone wants to know their future. With the Crystal Ball Skill enabled on the Amazon Echo you'll get Magic 8-ball like answers to all your pressing questions.
Wanna solve the murder of Bruce Wayne's parents? Simply enable The Wayne Investigation Skill and you can talk your way through this choose-your-own-adventure game.