What Amazon Alexa Is, and Why You Need an Echo Device

It’s no secret that Amazon is dominating the online world right now, and is continuously coming out with revolutionary ideas that are changing lives – especially when it comes to making your life simpler in your own home. These smart assistants, like Amazon’s Alexa, are getting smarter and smarter every day! And when it comes to daily routines, no one does it better than Alexa.

If you’re thinking about getting Alexa in your home, or you simply want to learn more about what she can do, this article will tell you everything you need to know, including:

Read on to learn more about Alexa, and how she can change your life by making regular routine tasks in the home easier, more efficient, and more enjoyable.

What is Amazon Alexa and which devices is she enabled on?

Alexa is the virtual assistant developed by Internet giant Amazon, that can help real people complete regular daily tasks. On Alexa-enabled devices, you can use Alexa to do various things for you, including searching for information, playing music, reading audiobooks, and creating a smart home.

Amazon Echo device

Other comparable virtual assistants include Google’s Assistant, Apple’s Siri, and Microsoft’s Cortana. All of these assistants work using advanced technology to learn your habits, routines, and what you want from them, to continue getting better at providing you with what you need. They are also constantly updated and improved, based on consumer needs, and what they want from their assistants.

What devices are Alexa-enabled?

All of the following devices have Alexa built-in, which makes them cutting-edge compared to many comparable devices available on the market.

  • Echo – The Amazon Echo was the first major device to feature Alexa, and is intended for use in the home.
  • Echo Dot – The Echo Dot is the newer-generation Echo device, and is smaller and more compact for your home.
  • Tap – The Amazon Tap is a portable Bluetooth speaker with Wi-Fi, that can play music from your own streaming services.
  • Fire TV and Fire TV Stick – These are Amazon’s TV streaming service devices, which are much smarter than regular services because they are Alexa-enabled.
  • Fire Tablet – This is the Amazon tablet, which has Alexa to assist you while using it.

How does Amazon Echo work?

The Amazon Echo is a compact device that is placed within your home, and once connected to the Internet wirelessly, can understand hundreds of commands voiced by its users. Simply call Alexa by name within range of the Echo, tell her what to do, and she will perform various tasks for you, anytime.

Using Echo device in a kitchen

Because the Echo is connected to the Internet, this connection will need to be maintained in order to work. Because of this, however, Alexa will be updated consistently, and continue to get smarter and smarter over time, learning more commands that consumers are looking to see from Amazon.

What the Echo can do for you in your home

There are so many things the Echo can do in your home, including completing basic informational searches for you, telling you the weather, setting timers for you, and playing music – including from your own music streaming services. But there are also a few more advanced things Alexa can do to make your home life more efficient – and more fun.

Best uses of Amazon Echo in the home:

  • Philips Hue Lights – This fancy new bit of technology are lights you can place in your home, that require the purchase of a “bridge” to connect them to the Internet, which allows you to control them with your Echo device. You can not only turn them on and off, but they are entirely programmable, so you can select and save color patterns and mood lighting, and simply ask your Echo to set the Phillips Hue lights a specific way.
  • Adjusting the thermostat – If you own a smart thermostat, you can connect it to your Echo device, and adjust the temperature and settings, just by asking Alexa to do it for you.
  • Reading e-books and audiobooks – The Echo can read any e-books or audiobooks you have saved in your personal library with a service like Audible. This is a relaxing way to sit back, relax, and enjoy your favorite books – even while you’re doing other things like cooking or cleaning around your home.
  • Setting timers and reminders – The Echo can help you remember everything you need, simply by asking Alexa to remind you to do it at a certain time. She can also start a timer on the spot, which is useful if you need your hands for other things like cooking.
  • Creating shopping lists – If you have a hard time keeping track of your shopping list, simply ask Alexa to add things for you whenever you remember them. Anytime you’re around the house and realize you’re out of something, she can keep track for you so you never forget anything on shopping day.
  • Shopping for you – Speaking of shopping, the Echo can even buy things for you on Amazon. Because it’s linked to your Amazon app, the regular things you buy can be re-ordered, using only your voice. And a confirmation email of your order will help prevent any possible mistakes!

Is buying an Echo worth it for you?

Buying the Amazon Echo is worth it if you need assistance remembering regular tasks, and enjoy the presence of an assistant in the home. It’s especially useful for people trying to build smart homes. For those who aren’t interested in implementing other technology in the home, it isn’t worth it.

Echo device in a bedroom

Because of the many uses we mentioned above, you can see how much simpler an Echo device can make your home life. There are so many possible ways you can integrate it, but again, this is most applicable to people who enjoy the presence of technology within their home and living space. If you don’t want to use the Echo to help control your lights and thermostat, or order things from Amazon, then essentially, you’re using an expensive search engine, because most of the things you can do with it, you can do for free online (though it wouldn’t be quite as easy).

The best Alexa “Skills” you can set up to make your home life easier

  • IFTTT – If This Then That, or IFTTT is a service that helps you build connections between different services you use. It then performs actions based on the “recipes” you set up with it. IFTTT has an entire section of Amazon-related applets, and can help make Alexa much more effective in your home. Some examples include getting Alexa to lock your doors at night, or getting Alexa to email you your shopping list each week. There are so many possibilities that you can start making use of!
  • Uber – You can sync up Alexa with Uber, so that you can ask your Echo to order you one whenever you need it.
  • Dominos – Order a pizza, or even ask Alexa to get your favorite order from Dominos. All you need to do is ask, and the pizza will show up at your door when it’s ready.
  • Ted Talks – Listen to Ted Talks and learn more about the topics you’re interested in.
  • Jeopardy – Play Jeopardy each day!
  • Fox News – Get a news update on the spot, and customize it based on your interests.
  • Sleep and Relaxation Sounds – Fall asleep with relaxing and calming sounds.
  • This Day in History – Get a fun history fact read to you each day.
  • ESPN Flash Briefing – Get a sports briefing, customized based on your favorite sports teams.
  • Cook Reference – Launching this gets you useful, on-the-spot information that you need for cooking, including the safe temperature to cook meat at, or how to do cooking conversions.

And there is so much more where that came from. Check out this Amazon page to learn more about great skills you can teach Alexa, including what’s new, and what’s trending now.

Now you know how Alexa works, and what she can do for you. Don’t forget to visit Amazon and buy one if you’re interested in making your home life easier. If you want to learn more about Amazon and what else it has to offer you, check out our free course on how Amazon works.