Amazon’s Alexa personal assistant can be found in a number of the company’s hardware releases. The Echo line of smart home hubs as well as the Fire TV line have been using Alexa for a few years now. Today we’re looking at some of the best Amazon Alexa features to help you decide whether one of these devices is right for you.
Alternatively, if you’re already an Alexa user, maybe you’ll learn about some new features you didn’t know about. There are so many Alexa features that it’s unlikely you’ve seen them all! It’s hard to overestimate just how many skills Alexa has. You might even learn about some new ways to use the technology in this article.
Best Amazon Alexa Features
Simple and Easy
Alexa’s best features are often her simplest. If you’re getting ready for work and want to know how to dress for the day, simply ask Alexa about the weather. Rather than having to pull out your phone and check the weather app, Alexa can just read it off to you as you get ready. What’s more, she’ll tell you the expected high and low and if any precipitation is expected, in addition to the current temperature.
Another excellent feature Alexa has built-in is simply telling time. It sounds like such a small thing but asking for the time and having it quickly announced back to you is about as convenient as it gets. If your phone is far away, or dead, it can be useful to quickly find out what time it is just by asking.
The most useful “simple” task we’ve found that Alexa handles is setting timers while we’re cooking. Since the device is hands-free, you can call out to start a timer while you’re in the middle of cooking a meal or some other task. She’ll alert you when the timer is up, and you need only tell her to stop to make the alert go away. Easy and simple, simple and easy!
You can have Alexa read your Kindle books to you. It’s a really cool way to keep up with the books you’re trying to read even while you’re doing things like cleaning or cooking. You can have her pause, skip ahead or back, and even skip to different chapters. It’s essentially a text-to-speech audiobook. There’s not a lot of personality to her voice, but she’ll keep you up-to-speed on your favorites.
Additionally, you can have Alexa playback your Audible audiobooks. Audible sports a ton of books read aloud by professional voice actors, and they have much more in-depth emotional heft than a machine simply converting text-to-speech. That said, Audible audiobooks tend to cost a bit more than simply buying the book on Kindle.
If you want, you can use Alexa to organize your activities. Telling her to add items to a shopping list lets you see them the next time you open Amazon. Alternatively, you can just flat-out shop through Alexa. You can use your voice to reorder common items or even browse Amazon’s online inventory.
If you sync your Alexa with your Google Calendar, you can also ask Alexa to tell you what upcoming events you have. Asking her makes it easier on you, since you can be getting ready in the morning or cleaning and be reminded of what you have coming up later that day or week.
Similarly, Alexa can set alarms for you so that you don’t miss important deadlines. If you need to leave at a certain time so that you don’t miss the window to be on time, have Alexa tell you when it’s time!
The most advertised aspect of Amazon’s Alexa is her ability to act as an impromptu DJ. You can call out for Alexa to start playing music by naming an artist, genre or song you want to hear. The digital assistant grabs the song off of Prime Music and begins playback quickly. It’s very intuitive to tell the device to pause, skip or start over.
Alexa can also play music through Spotify if you have an account and link it with your device.
If you have house guests over and want to set the mood for a gathering, Alexa is your friend. If you’ve invested in smart lights like Philips Hue, you can have Alexa adjust the lights for you. Colors, intensity and more can be switched with your voice and on the fly. Be ready to wow your guests when you switch the mood of a room with music and lights just by telling Alexa which pre-sets to use.