My Favorite Amazon Echo Features

Amazon Echo Dot

I’ve read a lot of stories of people who have picked up an Amazon Echo or Echo Dot and have no idea what to do with it.  What is it capable of?  What are people actually using it for?  To help answer that question, I thought I’d put together a list of my favorite Amazon Echo features.

This isn’t going to be a list of every single thing Alexa can do.  You can find those all over the place.  What I’m going to focus on is what we actually use it for.  What has made it worthwhile in my home.

My family has had the Echo Dot for over a month now.  It took us a few days to really get used to having it, but Alexa is now a part of our daily lives.

Music

One of my favorite things to do is play classical music at dinner.

Alexa, play classical music

It creates a relaxing atmosphere and at the right volume, lets us have a good conversation without being too intrusive.  My daughter, on the other hand, has a different taste in music.  Her favorite songs to play are “row, row, row”, “toes”, “abzzs”, and “happy”.  If you can’t tell from her musical style, she’s 1.5 years old.  Fortunately, even without Amazon’s Music Unlimited, there are still plenty of good songs under Amazon Prime that let her enjoy her music.  You can also ask Alexa to play lullabies and it’ll go through a whole bunch of children’s lullabies.

If you have Spotify Premium, like we do, you can hook your account up to Alexa and play music from that.  You simply append “on Spotify” to your statement to get it to switch music providers.

Alexa, play 80s music On Spotify

Of all the Amazon Echo features that I’m going to talk about, this is far and away the most used in our household.

Timer

This one seems trivial, but it’s been extremely helpful.  Are you cooking dinner and need to wait a few minutes before the next step in the recipe?

Alexa, set a timer for five minutes

In 5 minutes, you’ll hear an alarm-like sound.  It’s really that simple.  It sounds trivial, but it’s so natural that my wife doesn’t even realize she’s doing it now.  You can also ask Alexa how much time is left on your timer.

Alexa, how much time is left on the timer

Texting

If you have an AT&T cell phone plan, you can have Alexa text people for you.  You have to enable the AT&T Send Message skill.  During the setup process, you assign up to 3 contacts.  You can then text those contacts by simple speaking to Alexa.

Alexa, ask AT&T to text Marianna

Alexa will then ask you what you want to say.

What time will you be home for dinner?

Alexa will then reply by repeating what you’re about to send and make sure you want to send it.  Once you’ve confirmed, your text goes out.

Now, the catch is that you have to assign a phone number to your Echo.  Since I set it up with my phone number, when my wife texts me, it looks like I’m texting myself.  It’s a minor issue but it would be nice if we could assign multiple numbers.

Jokes

Alexa, tell me a joke

Simple and to the point.  My wife and daughter love this skill.  She always has a random joke to tell us.

Smart Home

This is obvious considering the point of this website.  I use this skill pretty often.

Alexa, turn the Sunroom on

Alexa, what is the temperature?

Alexa, raise the temperature by 2 degrees

Alexa, turn the hallway lights off

You can see how I use it in this area from all the articles on this site.  Since I have a smart phone, I also interact with all my devices through the SmartThings app.  When I don’t have my phone nearby, though, it comes in very handy to have another way to access my devices.

Of all of the Amazon Echo features here, this is my favorite due to how much cooler it has made my house.

Conversions

Alexa, how many quarts are in a cup?

Alexa, how many feet are in a mile?

Simple questions that take 1 minute to Google, but are a lot more readily available when I can just ask Alexa.

Weather

Alexa, what’s the weather?

I will generally do this while I’m getting ready in the morning.  Again, it’s something that takes a minute to do with my phone, but is now a lot more accessible.

Time

Alexa, what time is it?

This comes in handy when you don’t have a watch on.

Thunderstorm Sounds

Alexa, open Thunderstorm Sounds

Want some white noise while you’re reading?  Thunderstorm sounds is excellent at this.  I generally use this skill while I am napping.

Summary

There are a lot of tiny Amazon Echo features that all add up to make a great device.  It’s all a matter of figuring out how you can make it help you.

Read next:  Beginners Guide to a Smart Home

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1 Response

  1. March 2, 2017

    […] Read Next: My Favorite Amazon Echo Features […]

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