​Amazon Alexa ultimate guide: How to set up and use your Echo speaker

Updated: Catch up on everything new from Amazon's September event

Amazon Alexa: The missing manual
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What is Alexa and how does it work? It's a question we get asked more than any other.

The basic premise of Amazon's voice assistant is simple - you ask questions, give commands and receive responses - but there's a surprising amount of depth to its capabilities.

This is where our complete guide to Amazon Alexa comes in.

In this missing manual, we'll be talking through very basics, such as how to set your Alexa device up, what you can do and whether you need to pay, as well as the more in-depth features, such as connecting other smart home gadgets and downloading skills.


Jump to the Alexa information you need

> Amazon Alexa devices
> How to set up Alexa
> Alexa skills and commands
> Alexa tips and tricks and how-tos
> The best Amazon Echo deals


For the likes of smart home control, you'll need other devices to be compatible with Alexa. Look out for the 'Works with Amazon Alexa' sticker on boxes, or on Amazon listings, to make sure.

With skills, think of these as apps built especially for Alexa. Common Alexa skills, for example, are TuneIn radio, so Alexa can play your favourite station, or BBC News, for the latest headlines.

We've spent years testing every aspect of the voice assistant and all the devices it calls home - read on for our expert advice to become a master of Alexa.

Read this: Best Amazon Echo deals


What is Alexa? What can Alexa do?

The popularity of Amazon Echo speakers is causing a lot of people to jump on the bandwagon – and then ask, "What can Alexa actually do?". The beauty of those first weeks is trying things out, and being pleasantly surprised. However, here's a helpful cheat sheet for things to do with your Alexa speaker.

Things Alexa can do

  • Play radio stations
  • Stream music from Spotify, Apple Music and more
  • Set timers and alarms
  • Get tailored news reports
  • Ask web-based questions
  • Control smart home devices with your voice
  • Group together smart home devices to work together using single commands
  • Make calls to contacts' cellphones
  • Intercom between Echo speakers in your home
  • Play games
  • Play sleep music or ambient sounds (and toggle off automatically)

Most people use their Amazon Echo smart speaker to listen to radio stations, stream music, set timers and alarms and control smart home devices, including smart lights, connected thermostats and appliances.

Of course, Alexa can also search the web and offer flash news briefings, weather reports, sports scores and more. It's a very versatile system.

And there are new features being added all the time. Alexa Calling and Drop In are both great way to stay in touch with those in your home, using your Alexa device as an intercom from room to room, and even house to house.

The Amazon Echo Show range and Echo Spot, with their displays, can show security cameras and let you check who's at the door.

Another really important thing to be aware of is that you don't need to pay to use Alexa.

Whether you want to set up an account and use the app, download skills or connect to other devices, there's no kind of monthly fee attached to the Amazon ecosystem.

The only things you need to be aware of, with regard to payments, is that linked subscription services (like Spotify Premium) will still require you to pay for full support, and you can also use your Echo speaker to shop (more on that below).

Update: New Amazon hardware and Alexa features coming soon

Amazon Alexa ultimate guide: How to set up and use your Echo speaker

As is now the routine, Amazon used its annual September event in Seattle as an excuse to launch an avalanche of new hardware and software. In fact, there was 14 new pieces of kit and roughly 10 big changes to Alexa announced at the press showcase.

We won't detail all the new Alexa features coming before the end of the year - you can read our extensive round-up for that - but let's quickly round off all the hardware announcements.

If you want a bit of a deeper insight into these new devices or details on pre-ordering, head to the section below.

A high-end speaker for audiophiles, the Echo Studio, was the highlight of the new wares. However, don't sleep on the Amazon Smart Oven, Echo Glow or Echo Flex as supplementary devices, or indeed the new Ring Indoor Cam or Eero mesh Wi-Fi with Alexa.

Meanwhile, there was updates to lines we're already familiar with, through the third-generation Echo, the new Echo Dot with Clock and the Echo Show 8.


Best Alexa speakers

Best Alexa speakers

There are two types of Alexa device – ones that simply work with Alexa, and ones with Alexa built in, which usually means they can be controlled using your voice. It’s an important distinction, and we’re dealing with the latter in this section – devices that natively host Alexa.

Check out our round-up of the best smart speakers with Alexa.


Amazon Echo (3rd generation)

The Amazon Echo ($99.99) is now in its third generation, with a refined design that matches the Echo Plus from 2018.

It also borrows much of the same sound technology that features on the more expensive Plus, now featuring Neodymium drivers and a 3-inch woofer. The now-familiar fabric cover is again available in Sandstone, Charcoal, Heather and an all-new Twilight Blue.

Check out our initial verdict of the third-gen Amazon Echo ahead of its full release.


Amazon Echo Dot

The Echo Dot ($49.99) was, in 2018, given its first true update since it was first released, and, like the EchoShow, its new design is much friendlier to place within your home.

A fabric makeover has hidden away the ugly plastic of the original, and new drivers make the sound a whopping 70% louder. That means it won’t beam out the same sub-par sound as the older versions when pushing up the volume.

And, guess what, in 2019, we've been gifted the Echo Dot with Clock ($59.99). The only difference is, well, the clock - and the price tag, which is $10 more than the standard model.

Check out our full Echo Dot review, as well as our initial verdict of the Echo Dot with Clock ahead of its full release.


Amazon Echo Studio

Completely new for 2019, the Echo Studio ($199.99) is Amazon's answer to Apple HomePod, Google Home Max and Sonos.

Alexa finally has a high-end speaker to call home, and this one comes packing three mid-range drivers with a directional tweeter in the front, and a 5.25-inch woofer at the bottom. Amazon also touts the 3D audio of the Studio, which also supportsDolby Atmos and Sony 360 Reality Audio.

Read our first impressions of the Amazon Echo Studio ahead of its release this November.


Amazon Echo Plus

Amazon's Echo Plus ($149.99) smart home hub has Dolby speakers, a temperature sensor, security sensors and a fabric cover reminiscent of the Echo's refresh.

It’s also a Zigbee hub, allowing you to connect it directly to compatible devices without a bridge, and there's also offline voice controls.

Check out out full Echo Plus review.


Amazon Echo Show

The Echo Show 2018 ($229.99) doesn’t just look better, either – it now works as a Zigbee hub, just like the Echo Plus. There’s also Dolby stereo sound, Skype for video calls, support for live TV through Prime Video and even the ability to play back TV recordings when paired with the new Fire TV Cast.

Read our full Amazon Echo Show review.


Amazon Echo Show 8

The Amazon Echo Show 8 ($119.99) is the latest addition to the range, but it sits right in the middle of the standard, 10-inch Show and the Show 5.

As you might imagine, this model follows the trend of its smaller sibling and packs an 8-inch screen, and it also manages to include a Zigbee chip, making it the cheapest Echo device that can act as a wider smart home hub.


Amazon Echo Show 5

The Echo Show 5 ($89.99) - named after its screen size, not the generation - is the third different version of the device currently available.

And it's really a more advanced version of the Echo Spot, which means you're still likely to be able to put it on your bedside table and tap into the power of Alexa.

Try our Amazon Echo Show 5 review.


Amazon Echo Spot

The Echo Spot ($129.99) is a smart alarm which features a built-in screen. That means that, like the Echo Show, it can do video calling and display information – but as a bedside companion.

Read our full Echo Spot review.


Amazon Fire TV Cube

The Fire TV Cube ($119.99) blends a number of Amazon devices into one, for a truly unique Alexa-based proposition. Firstly, it works as a streaming stick, and like the Fire TV 4K has Alexa built-in for your queries and supports Netflix, Prime Video, HBO GO, Hulu, Sling and PlayStation Vue.

A new version of the Fire TV Cube is coming on 10 October with better Alexa performance, and will be available in Europe for the first time.


Amazon Echo Input

The Amazon Echo Input ($34.99) turns regular speakers smart – simply hook it up via Bluetooth or 3.5mm audio cable and Alexa will take over. There's no speaker power here, but the 12.5mm device does have four microphones in order to pick up your commands.


Amazon Echo Dot Kids Edition

The Amazon Echo Dot Kids Edition ($69.99) was given a second-gen refresh earlier this year, matching the third-gen standard Dot but with a fancy rainbow design. However, the $20 premium gets you more than a jazzy look.

You get parental controls, which locks kids out of your shopping lists, and the $2.99 per month FreeTime Unlimited feature (of which you get a year for free) blocks sweary music, opens up access to kid-friendly audiobooks and radio stations.

Also, the neat Magic Word mode ensures they say please before they get what they want from Alexa. Unfortunately, though, this one's not available outside the US just yet.


Best devices compatible with Alexa

Third-party Alexa built-in devices

Alexa devices don't just come from Amazon’s factory. You can also buy other devices which have Alexa built in, thanks to Amazon's Alexa Voice Service (AVS), a cloud-based service that provides APIs for third-parties to use to interface with Alexa.

Why would you want to buy an unofficial product? Well, third-party companies are bringing functionality to the table that Amazon isn't yet providing.

Sonos One

Buy now: Amazon | $199.99

The Sonos One brings Alexa into the classic Sonos Play:1, offering the best quality audio of any Amazon-powered smart speaker out there at the moment. You can ask the Sonos One for tracks from Amazon Music and Spotify, and AirPlay functionality is a great bonus.

Triby Smart speaker

Buy now: Amazon | From $199

A nifty little speaker with a magnetic mount, Triby blends smart home systems to unique effect. Alexa is on board with both wake word and tap-to-wake functionality, and the physical buttons on the front hook up scenes for HomeKit and other manual actions.

Ecobee Switch+

Buy now: Amazon| $78.75

Amazon Alexa voice controls are built right into this light switch, which points to a future where voice assistants live inside everything in the house. It's a great shout if you're looking to step up your voice control.

Garmin Speak Plus

Buy now: Amazon | $139

A neat in-car system, the Garmin Speak Plus is a dash-cam with Alexa built in. It's a bridge between your smartphone and car that provides the data connection and uses your in-car audio system for the feedback. Think directions, smart home control and getting information, hands free, on the move.

C by GE LED table lamp

Buy now: Amazon | $62.93

Alexa in a stylish table lamp – this futuristic-looking device from C by GE shows that you don't have to fill your home with speakers to get Alexa everywhere.


New Amazon Echo and Alexa features

Latest Alexa features

Alexa Hunches

Alexa Hunches is a feature that better understands your routines and suggests things to you.

So, for example, if you tell Alexa you're about to go to bed, it'll let you know if your front door is unlocked, or your basement light is still on.

An update to this feature landing before the end of 2019 will also suggest routines you may want to set up based on your daily habits.

Email integration

Amazon says you can link your Gmail, Outlook.com, Hotmail and Live.com accounts to Alexa, and ask "Alexa, check my email" for a summary of your messages from the last 24 hours.

You can read, reply, delete or archive messages, and check for messages from specific people.

FreeTime

Amazon's Alexa-for-kids service now offers routines on FreeTime-enabled Echo speakers, so you can turn out the lights and play sleep sounds.

Routines improvement

You can now stagger Alexa routines, so if your alarm goes off at 7am you can have the headlines read at 7.30am, for example.

Business listings

Alexa is getting better at tracking down nearby businesses and restaurants. Ask "Alexa, where is the nearest Trader Joe's?" or you could ask, "Alexa, what's the number for Domino's?".

Local Voice Control

If your network is down, Local Voice Control will take the Zigbee element of the Echo Plus or Echo Show and use it so you can still exert some smart home control.

Multi-step requests

If you want the smart assistant to play music from Spotify and do it at a certain volume, it will also be able to do so.


Alexa on your computer

That's right, Alexa is going to be appearing on PCs from the likes of Acer, Asus, HP and Lenovo. Most of the Alexa-enabled PCs will be ready for purchase by the end of the year, though the Acer model is ready now.

When you boot up your PC, you can use this method to activate the service:

1. Open the Start Menu.

2. Click the Alexa icon.

3. Sign in to your Amazon account.

Or, you can use this method:

1. Click on the Windows search bar.

2. Type Amazon Alexa.

3. Sign in to your Amazon account.


How to set up Alexa

How to set up your Alexa speaker

Getting your Amazon Alexa speaker set up and ready to go is pretty hassle free. Just follow these steps.

1. Download the Alexa app on your smartphone or tablet. It's available via iOS/Android and of course there's a Fire OS version if you own one of Amazon's own devices. You'll need to log in with your Amazon ID (we're assuming you have one, or you'll need to create one), and this will now be your account for Alexa. Naturally, if you have an Amazon account with Prime, make sure you use that for the set-up.

2. In the app go to menu > Settings > Set up new device. When that's done, choose the type of Amazon Echo you're going to be adding.

3. Now just plug in your Alexa device and sit back and wait. It will go through its cycle, displaying a spinning blue light before changing back to orange. This means it's in pairing mode, so in the Alexa app feed it your Wi-Fi settings. You can opt for these to be stored and used by future speakers at set up.

4. If you need to put your speaker back into pairing mode then just press the button on the top.

5. You're now good to go – just say "Alexa" and look below for some cool things to ask.


Best Alexa commands

Best Amazon Echo commands

There are so many Alexa commands for so many types of people, it would take an entire feature to list the best – and luckily, we’ve done just that in our essential guide. But if you’ve just fired up your Amazon Echo for the first time, don’t be dumbstruck.

"Alexa, play [artist] name."

Alexa, set timer for [x] minutes.

"Alexa, what's the weather today?"

“Alexa, set alarm for 7.30am” and then “Alexa, snooze!”

"Alexa, play [radio station]."

“Alexa, volume 4” (choose number between 1-10)

"Alexa, what will the weather be like tomorrow?"

Alexa, what's in the news?

While these are some simple ideas to get started, check out our full guide to Amazon Alexa commands to become a power user.

Amazon Alexa ultimate guide: How to set up and use your Echo speaker

Essential Amazon Alexa skills

Alexa uses skills to add extra features and connect with smart home products – and these are the secret to making your Echo be more than just what happens out of the box.

Think of skills as like the apps you install on your smartphone – there’s a huge collection of different ones to choose from. We’ve devoted an entire article to Alexa skills, but here are five to get you started.

Amazon Story Time

Just ask "Alexa, ask Amazon Storytime to read me a story" to get a narrated story – aimed at kids between 5-12 – from the Amazon Rapids app library and Audible.

BBC News

Get the latest world headlines from the BBC World Service added to your flash briefing. Just say "Alexa, what's my flash briefing?"

Big Sky

The ultimate weather app, it's not only for forecasts but you can ask "Alexa, tell Big Sky to give me a weather fact".

Ambient Sounds: Various

If you want something to drift off to sleep to, say "Alexa play Ambient sounds"; you'll get a list of the entire range of ambient sounds. Otherwise, just say "Alexa play ocean sounds" to go straight to the water's edge.

Spotify

The daddy of music skills for Amazon Alexa devices, Spotify can be can be selected as a default music destination and play all your tunes.

Apple Music

Only a recent addition to the pack, Apple Music is now a live skill through Alexa – and you can make it your default player, just like Amazon Music Unlimited and Spotify.

Check out our round-up of essential Amazon Echo Skills you need to download.


Funny things to ask Alexa

Brilliant Amazon Echo Easter eggs

Unlike many voice assistants, Alexa has a fun side. There are thousands of silly and quirky things you can ask Alexa, and you can see a better run down in our dedicated Amazon Alexa Easter eggs guide. But try these commands to have a little down time with your virtual assistant:

“Alexa, tell me a joke”

“Alexa, I’m home”

“Alexa, talk like Yoda”

“Alexa, roll a dice”

“Alexa, play 20 questions”

Check out more funny things to ask Alexa.


Control the smart home with Alexa

Amazon Alexa and the smart home

When it comes to controlling the smart home, Alexa has become the best platform available.

Its mix of top-drawer voice recognition and the sheer number of supported devices that play nicely within its ecosystem makes it an extremely powerful gateway to the smart home.

Before you can enjoy it, though, you're going to need some smart home devices. You know, bulbs, thermostats, plugs, that kind of stuff.

We've listed some below, which links out to our big list of Alexa-compatible devices. We'll take it as a given that you've got that far.

Best Alexa compatible deals

Echo Connect - Save $15
Echo Connect - Save $15
Amazon
$19.99
Echo Show 5 - Buy 2, save $30
Echo Show 5 - Buy 2, save $30
Amazon
$89.99
Sengled multicolor starter kit - Save $20
Sengled multicolor starter kit - Save $20
Amazon
$49.90
Philips Hue white starter kit - Save $42.99
Philips Hue white starter kit - Save $42.99
Amazon
$107.99


Best Alexa compatible devices

As we mentioned up top, devices don’t have to have Alexa built in to slot into your ecosystem. Alexa and Amazon Echo really start to make sense as smart home gateways when you plug in Alexa compatible smart home devices.

There are scores of devices that boast “Works with Alexa” accreditation, with even more due to land over the course of 2019. But here are the brightest stars in the Alexa ecosystem, including some devices from Amazon itself.

Alexa Smart Plug

Buy now: Amazon | $24.99

It may not be as sexy as a new speaker, but Amazon is now officially in the smart plug business. The Alexa Smart Plug doesn't have the smart assistant built into the plug itself, but it can be remotely controlled by Alexa. That means it has the ability to turn any 'dumb' device smart. So, for example, Alexa can now turn your regular coffee maker on, and also include it in a routine.

Amazon Echo Sub

Buy now: Amazon | $129.99


Also joining the long list of Alexa speakers is the Echo Sub. This pairs with an Echo or Echo Plus to deliver 100W of bass through a six-inch woofer, which should nicely round out the sound when playing music through Echo speakers. Pairing with two will create a 2.1 configuration.

Amazon Echo Glow

Buy now: Amazon | $29.99

Amazon now has a bedside light designed with kids in mind, first announced at its September event and releasing in November. It's small, it changes colors, and it'll act as a companion device to an Echo running in your home.

Users can ask the digital assistant to provide a flickering motion, but it'll also be able to work in conjunction with sleep timers and music.

Amazon Echo Flex

Buy now: Amazon | $249.99

Well and truly one-upping last year's AmazonBasics Microwave, discussed above, Amazon announced the Smart Oven at its 2019 September event.

Acting as a four-in-one, the small oven is able to cook, air fry, microwave and keep your food warm. Like the microwave released last year, this doesn't feature built-in Alexa, but you can connect the device to the voice assistant and ask it to cook specific meals. Clever stuff.

Ring Video Doorbell 2

Buy now: Amazon | $199

The Ring Video Doorbell works exclusively with the Amazon Echo Show, the first Alexa-powered device with a screen. When someone rings your doorbell, the video feed will be displayed on your Echo Show, so you can screen important callers from annoying time-wasters.

Nest

The leader in smart thermostats, and now part of the Google family, Nest works with Alexa to offer vocal control over your home’s heating, and is expanding further all the time. Set your heating to certain temperatures, or turn it off – it’s a natural way to take control of your smart heating.

Hive

Like Nest, the smart thermostat can be controlled using baked in Alexa integrations – but Alexa control permeates the Hive experience. Control of Hive plugs and bulbs is also part and parcel of the experience, making it one of the most complete smart home systems available.

Philips Hue

Alexa has been able to control Philips Hue bulbs since the get-go. Not only does that mean turning your lights on and off, but you can quickly change tone and hue, as well as setting pre-loaded scenes.

Sonos

Sonos’ Alexa integration, in many ways, makes more sense than Sonos’ own Alexa speaker. The integration enables you to play music in specific rooms of your house, and play, pause and adjust volume. It can be pretty flaky around multi-room audio and third party services, but the integration is constantly improving, and is a game-changer for Sonos users.

Wyze

Wyze is the new kid on the block in many ways - bringing affordable, good smart lighting and other tech to the table. Needless to say, you can connect Wyze devices to Alexa to gain voice control and other options. The integration isn't too deep yet, but we anticipate Wyze working on this over time.


How to connect devices to Alexa

How to add smart home devices to Alexa

If you have any kind of Amazon Echo device other than the Echo Plus, you will need to set up those devices as per the manufacturers' instructions, then head to the Skills tab within the Alexa app. Download the required skill for your device, sign in, and you'll then give Alexa control of that device. Paired devices will then appear within the Smart Home section of the app.

Check out our full guide to adding and controlling devices with your smart speaker.

Amazon Alexa ultimate guide: How to use and get more from your Amazon Echo

How to create groups with Amazon Alexa

Where things get really smart with using Amazon Alexa as a smart home hub is that it can take over control of a host of devices. By creating groups from within the Smart Home element of the Alexa app you can add any device into a single group, which can be controlled by voice.

To start a group follow these steps:

1. Open the Alexa app

2. Head to 'Smart Home'

3. Select 'Groups'

4. Tap 'Add group'

5. Choose 'Smart Home Group' and give it a name.

6. Tick the devices you'd like to add, and then you're done.

A fine example is lighting, where you can add all your bulbs from the downstairs into one group and control it with "Alexa, turn off downstairs lights", before you go to bed for example.

Of course, you might not want every light turned off or on, so you can also separate them into other groups: "main lights", "lounge lights" etc.

Import scenes into Amazon Alexa

Alexa will also detect and import set scenes which have already been set up within specific ecosystems. During a scan of your network, scenes will be added to the Alexa app, as long as they're set up and you've installed the relevant skills.

Once registered in the app, you can then ask Alexa to control them.

Alexa routines

How to create Routines with Alexa

A nice Alexa feature is Routines, which enable you to merge multiple smart home actions into one command. That could mean saying "Alexa, bedtime" and having all your downstairs lights turn off, and your bedroom lights turn on.

This differs to Groups because a Routine can control the state of a device (e.g. the brightness of a light) and also lets you add music, radio or podcast choices.

Check out our guide to Alexa Routines for a guide to setting yours up.


Amazon Alexa ultimate guide: How to set up and use your Echo speaker

Alexa shopping commands

If you’re an Amazon junkie for ordering, your Echo speaker can help you order items faster.

If you find you’re running low on a certain thing, there’s no need to reach for your phone and open the app. Just tell Alexa using the following commands.

Order items

“Alexa, order dog food on Amazon Prime” – If 1-Click ordering is turned on, this will automatically have the item sent to you and you'll be charged.

“Alexa, add toilet roll to my cart” – This adds to your cart but doesn't purchase.

“Alexa, cancel that order” – You have 30 mins after ordering for this to work.

Delivery notifications

"Alexa, where’s my stuff?" – Alexa will run through all pending deliveries.

Reorder notifications

“Alexa, re-order toilet roll” – Alexa will search previously purchased items to suggest the brands you like.


Alexa tips and tricks

Amazon Echo tips and tricks

If you’re looking to get even more from your Amazon Alexa tech, you’re in the right place. We’ve compiled the power users’ guide to Alexa – so please go read that – but here’s a taster of what you can expect in our Alexa tips and tricks:

Enable Brief Mode

When you've been using Alexa for a while, it can get a little verbose for common commands. Enable Brief Mode and you can replace a lot of what it says with a simple beep – you won't look back.

Enable Alexa for guests

Alexa doesn't have a guest mode like Google Assistant quite yet, but if you want visitors to your home (or Airbnb customers) to enjoy the benefits of your Echo speaker, you can fudge it using Amazon Blueprints. Follow our guide to find out how.

Master multi-rom audio with multiple Echo devices

Music is a huge part of Alexa's make-up – and it does a pretty good Sonos impression, letting you play fully in sync music across multiple Echo speakers.

This means you can move between rooms in your house and get a good audio experience, or do a better job of filling sound in a big room.

Use Alexa Guard

Alexa can listen out for suspicious activity such as breaking glass or smoke alarms, and alert you if it hears something.

To activate it, just say “Alexa, I’m leaving” and the assistant will reply to let you know it's on guard. This only works in the US for now.

Turn on Alexa's Whisper Mode

With whisper mode, Alexa will respond more softly if you, well, whisper your command, instead of speaking normally.

Change Alexa's accent

Okay, a non-useful but really interesting tip to start. Alexa has a ton of accents to choose from and you can change them within the app. Australian, Indian, British, Canadian – the list is expanding quickly.

Just go to Settings > Language within the Alexa app to change things up. We've also made a list of all the Amazon Alexa accents if you're curious.

Use Apple Music on your Amazon Echo

Apple surprised us all by giving Echo users access to its music service, meaning you can control all your Apple Music tracks using your voice. Check out our guide to get it set up.

Use Alexa EQ to change bass and treble

A new feature enables you to ask Alexa to change audio levels including bass and treble. Read our guide for a list of commands you can ask.

Use non-supported smart home tech

There's an almost insanely long list of smart home tech compatible with Alexa, but there's still plenty trying to go it alone. Try downloading controller apps like Yonomi or IFTTT, which can become the middle man between your devices.

Use Alexa to control Sonos speakers

While there are Sonos speakers with Alexa built in, you can get the features retrospectively. The Alexa Sonos skill enables you to take voice control of any of the company's speakers – check out our guide to every Alexa Sonos command you need to know.

Set Spotify as your primary music source

Spotify users have probably noticed that the Amazon Echo doesn't have a skill. You can summon music from Spotify via Echo, but annoyingly, Alexa always prefers Amazon Music. Well, you can set Spotify as your Echo's default music service and solve that problem. Go to Settings > Music & Media and choose Spotify from the list. As you were.

Delete all your Amazon voice recordings

Some people will be surprised to know that Amazon stores recordings of your voice in the cloud, which not everyone will be comfortable with. If you want rid, you can delete all voice data by heading to www.amazon.com/myx. Check out our guide on how to delete your Amazon Echo voice data for a full run-down.

Change the Alexa wake word

Want Alexa to respond to a different name? You can change the wake word to 'Computer' or a whole range of things. Go on, dare to be different.

Change Alexa's voice speed

If Alexa's speaking a little too slowly or quickly for comfort, you can now change its speed. Just say, "Alexa, speak slower." Or, to make it speak faster – you guessed it – say "Alexa, speak faster."


Alexa Drop-In and Calling

Alexa Drop In and Calling

The Alexa Calling feature enables you to make calls between Alexa devices or via the Alexa app – supported on iOS, Android phones and tablets, including Amazon Fire products as well.

To make an Alexa call, you can just ask "Alexa call [contact name]," or go to the Conversations tab within the Alexa app and pick a contact from there.

You can only call contacts in your phone book who themselves own an Amazon Echo speaker and have registered for the service.

Drop In works slightly differently. Drop In with Alexa enables you to call and talk to another Alexa speaker, without anyone answering the call.

This is essentially an intercom between rooms in your house. Just say "Alexa, drop in on the [say Echo device name]" to be patched into other areas of your home, and immediately get two-way audio. There's no opt-in approval for Drop In within registered Echo devices on your network.

And there's one final way Drop In works. You can Drop In to any of your contacts who own an Amazon Echo speaker – but they have to opt-in to the service first.

Given that your friends and family can essentially wiretap your home it's not hugely popular.

Check out our full guide to Alexa Calling and how to Drop In with your Amazon Echo and also take a look at taking things further with an Echo Connect.


Alexa FAQ

Amazon Echo FAQs

We try to answer some of the questions we're asked most about Amazon Echo and Alexa.

How do I play podcasts with Alexa?

Alexa has got much better at playing podcasts thanks to some decent new skills. Check out our guide for a full explainer.

How do you control lights with Alexa?

Essentially, you just set up your smart bulbs as per the manufacturer's instructions and head to the Alexa app > Smart Home and then scan your network. Check out our full guide for how to use Alexa with smart hubs, and how you can reduce the number of hubs in your house.

Can you control Amazon Fire TV using your Echo speaker?

You can control your Fire TV – and with it elements of your actual TV set – using your Echo speaker (or, if you're using the Fire TV Cube, without needing any additional devices). That means turning on your TV, watching shows and starting services like Netflix or Amazon Prime Video. Check out our full guide to everything you need to ask.

Can you control Sonos with Alexa?

Yes, with the Sonos skill, any Sonos speaker will play nicely with any Amazon Echo. It's a really nice and cheap way to get voice control, and even the Amazon Echo Dot will suffice. Just download the skill and link your accounts to get started.

Which Amazon Echo has the best sound quality?

Echo devices aren't known for epic sound quality, but the Amazon Echo Studio has been developed to pack more punch in the audio department.

Can you sync Alexa with your calendar?

Yes! Google, Microsoft, Apple and Microsoft Exchange calendars can all work with Alexa, so you can add events and get notifications from your day.

Check out our guide to get your calendars syncing with Alexa.

How do I reset my Amazon Echo?

Look for the the reset button on the base of your Echo and push a paperclip in until the light ring turns orange, then blue. You'll then need to head to the Alexa app and start set-up as new.

Follow our how to reset Echo guide for full details.

Can an Amazon Echo be hacked?

Any connected device in your home can be hacked – and is vulnerable to anyone with serious intent. Alexa does store voice recordings in the cloud, which again could theoretically be accessed in an attack.

A proof of concept attack in August 2017 showed that malware could be installed onto an Echo to make it eavesdrop on a user – but again, it's a highly complex process that would be near impossible to pull off. But yes, connected technologies carry that risk.

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