Amazon Echo essential tips and tricks

How to get the most out of Amazon's digital assistant

Amazon Alexa: Tips and tricks

The Amazon Echo is a hugely diverse smart speaker – no matter which of the many versions you have. From the Amazon Echo Dot to Echo Show, there are loads of nifty ways to get more from Alexa.

The beauty of voice commands is how varied the options and features are – but the Amazon Echo does so much that it's often difficult to know what's possible. That's where this tips and tricks guide comes in, where we aim to uncover some of Alexa's less obvious features.

Sharing accounts and switching profiles

It's time to stop being selfish and learn to share. Yes, Alexa might be your new best friend, but she's friends to others, too. To that extent, you can store multiple accounts to use on a single Echo and jump between them simply by saying "Alexa, switch profile". To add additional accounts, you'll need to login to alexa.amazon.co.uk or alexa.amazon.com and head to Settings > Account > Household Profile.

Here, you'll be able to enter the Amazon account details of the person you want to add to your profile. Can't remember who's account you're logged in with? No worries, you can figure it out just by asking "Alexa, which profile am I using?"

Change the Alexa wake word

Her name may have become synonymous with the Echo devices, but that doesn't mean you have to like it. Maybe your name's Alex and things are getting a bit confusing, or maybe your ex-partner's dog is called Alexa. Or maybe you don't like the idea of a subservient female doing thy bidding. Whatever your reasoning for wanting to change, you're in luck. You can act as the deed poll office and give Alexa a new name, or a new 'wake' word.

Sadly, you don't have free reign on the choice of replacement, but if Alexa just isn't ticking your boxes, you can use "Amazon" or "Echo" as your vocal cue instead. To make the switch, you'll need to select the speaker you want to refresh and press on the 'Wake Word' option within the companion app.

Set Spotify as your primary music source

If you've been looking out for an Amazon Echo Spotify Skill, you've probably noticed there isn't one. That doesn't mean you can't enjoy your Spotify playlists with Echo-enabled voice commands though.

Instead, you can set Spotify as your Echo's default audio provider. 'How?' we hear you cry with thinly veiled urgency. Well, in the app, head in the direction of Settings > Music & Media and you'll be able to select your go-to streaming service of choice. There's still no Apple Music support mind.

Clear your Alexa history

Man the panic stations, this is not a drill. Alexa records everything you ask her and keeps a record of your questions that's visible on the smartphone app. Seriously. Don't worry though, if you've been asking her some slightly embarrassing or dubious questions you don't want getting out into the wider world, you can simply delete them.

You erase all trace of your shameful request, you'll need to open the Amazon Echo app and go Settings > History, Here, once you've selected the question you want to do away with, click the Delete voice recordings button at the base. Phew, crisis averted. Until the next time you ask something embarrassing, anyway.

Turn Alexa into a radio alarm clock

One of our favourite tips, you can have Alexa wake you up to a specific song, album, playlist of even radio station. Just say "Alexa, wake me up to [insert song or radio station] at [time]." You'll then get a more enjoyable wake-up call.

Listen to podcasts

If you're more of a podcast type then Alexa can help you here as well. But this is two tips in one because it's also essential that you ignore Alexa's own podcasting capabilities and opt for the skill AnyPod. That enables better listening back, so episodes will play in the best order and resume where you left off. Just say β€œAlexa, enable AnyPod skill.”

Change Alexa's voice

Did you know that you can change Alexa's accent? In the Settings menu for your device within the Alexa app just head to Settings > choose the correct device > scroll down to Language and choose from the list. You can pick from US, UK, Germany, Australian, Canadian, Japanese and even Indian English. Check out all the voices in our round-up.

Use Alexa on your smartphone

As an Alexa and Amazon Echo user, you're not confined to using it on your smart speaker. Android smartphone and tablet users can ask questions, access skills and control their smart home via the Alexa app. Alexa is also baked into Fire tablets and the feature is coming to iOS as well – allegedly.

Connect a Bluetooth speaker

While your Amazon Echo can play music from most services, you can still pair it as a Bluetooth speaker to take advantage of services like Apple Music and YouTube. Just say "Alexa, turn on Bluetooth" to start a search, and then complete the pairing process on your smartphone's Bluetooth menu.

Get Alexa to repeat herself

Amazon Echo essential tips and tricks

Although she's got a slow, methodical delivery, if you're only half paying attention it can be easy to miss what Alexa's telling you. There's no need to repeat your lengthy query in order to get the answer again though. Instead, you can just ask Alexa to repeat herself. Asking "Alexa, can you repeat that," or "Alexa, can you say that again" will get your digital assistant spouting her most recent answer on repeat. She won't even get sassy for you having not paid proper attention the first time.

Make calls using Alexa

Another nifty new trick Alexa has learned over time is to make calls. So long as the recipient has an Echo or the Alexa smartphone app, you can dial them up for a natter. Alexa uses your phone's address book to see who else has a Echo or is using the app, and to find them you just need to hit the chat bubble at the bottom of the app. You can simply say "Alexa, call Dad" or call them by tapping the on their name in the app. To answer an incoming call on your Echo, just say "Alexa, answer".

Reset your Amazon Echo

As with all technology, the Echo isn't infallible. From time-to-time, things are bound to get a little squiffy. Thankfully resetting the Echo is easy and should hopefully fix your issues. To reset, just unplug then re-plug the device and wait for the Wi-Fi to connect back up. Yes, it all sounds very IT Crowd, but it usually does the trick.

Still having issues? If you can find a paperclip, you can press the small reset button on the bottom of the Echo. The light ring should turn orange, blue, off and then on again to take you through the initial setup process.

Force a system update

Though your app will let you know about new goodies that need to be downloaded, you can simply ask the Echo yourself. Sometimes it's quicker and you get a rundown by voice instead of reading about it. All you have to say is "Alexa, do you have any new features?" If she does, update away, if not, well at least there's plenty of Skills to add.

Add Skills with your voice

Speaking of which, did you know you no longer need the smartphone app to add new Alexa Skills to your Echo or Echo Dot. If you know there's a specific Skill you're after, just ask for it. Simply saying "Alexa, enable Uber," or "Alexa, enable a 7-minute workout," and the skills will automatically be added.

You do have to know the Skill by name, and thanks to Echo's open API and growing support, that's getting increasingly tricky. Amazon Echo Skills have been rolling in thick and fast over the past couple of years. Not just random Skills Store fodder, either, but software that's ready to transform your smart speaker into a pizza-ordering, taxi-booking genius. Enjoy adding them.

Set reminders

Who needs a pen and paper when you have Alexa by your side. You can now say something to the effect of "Alexa, remind me to pick up Tarquin from his Taekwondo class at 8pm". When the time comes, Alexa will light up and give you a reminder to pick up your beloved child. You'd better - he knows Taekwondo.

Do quick maths

If you need to do sums but can't remember which 'random crap' folder your phone's calculator is hidden in, why not just ask Alexa for some help? If you're dealing with a particularly large set of numbers that's easier to read off a screen than type out, you can rope your Echo in to do the work. Asking questions such as "Alexa, multiply 67 by 13" or "Alexa, what's 23% of 4,320" should see near instantaneous answer offered. She can do pretty long equations now, along with adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing, square roots, power and factorials.

Use Alexa to call your friends names

Okay, so this is probably a slight abuse of power, and not what the feature was really intended for, but getting Alexa to call your mates all the names under the sun the next time they pop round is still pretty entertaining. To do this, you'll need to start by saying "Alexa, Simon says" followed by whatever nonsense comes to mind. Whatever you say, she'll repeat back, and there's just something funnier about her calling your mate something else other than their name.

Be wary of the swears though. Although Alexa will beep out the s-word, anything stronger simply won't register and you'll get some jumbled message instead.

Mute the Echo

Amazon Echo essential tips and tricks

As we've mentioned, Alexa is always listening. Sometimes, however, you just want a bit of privacy and for your speaker to stop holding out for its wake word. It's a good thing then that you can plug its ears and mute the Echo for a while. Simply push the button with a slashed through microphone. A red ring will appear and the Echo will be muted. Push the button again to turn it back on.

Roll a die

If, like us, the last time you played Monopoly your other half tipped over the board rather than paying that massive rental fee, chances are you're probably down a couple of dice. Fret not though, your board game sessions need never be interrupted again thanks to Alexa.

Ask "Alexa, roll a die," or "Alexa, roll two dice," and she'll read out the results your digital die cast. Game On!

Use non-supported smart home tech

Your Nest, Honeywell or SmartThings connected devices might already play nice with the system, but there's a workaround for connected tech trying to go it alone. By downloading apps like Yonomi or IFTTT, you can find recipes or ways to sync up your smart devices. For example, while Echo supports Philips Hue and Lifx, there may be other smart lightbulbs the apps can control as well.



TAGGED   amazon   speakers

1 comment

  • Suraj

    I've not yet purchased an echo but have done a lot of research, and I hope that Echo will be able to do as much as the Google search does. so with the audio capability, I will no longer depend on the computer screen. and my eye strain problem can be reduced.

What do you think?

Reply to
Your comment