We've seen digital assistants from all the big names but surprisingly, none have been quite as useful as Amazon Echo.
The cylindrical speaker even has a few sibling rivals now with the Tap allowing portability and the Dot able to turn your speakers into a whole Alexa army.
Google Assistant and the forthcoming Google Home may be the Achilles heel to Amazon's Alexa, but it's hard to compete with Alexa's ability to find information, play music, read audiobooks, set reminders and much more, all done hands free with decent accuracy.
Essential reading: Amazon Echo Dot review
Alexa might even headed to your wrist thanks to the CoWatch which could make for a different kind of compelling experience. We really can't wait to test out a watch version of Echo considering the possibilities, but until then we're happy figuring out ways it makes life simpler. Here's what you need to know to get the best experience with Amazon Echo.
Resetting the Echo
As with all technology, it's bound to give out from time to time. Thankfully you can reset the Echo to hopefully fix your issues. Just unplug then plug the device and wait for the Wi-Fi to connect back up. If this doesn't work, find a paper clip and press the 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.
New feature updates
Though your app will let you know about new goodies that need to be downloaded, you can ask the Echo yourself. Sometimes it's quicker and you get a rundown by voice instead of reading about it.
Ask: Alexa, do you have any new features?
Adding new Skills
There weren't too many Skills you could download at first but it's growing rapidly. From 1,000 to 1,400 in just the month of June this year, it's clear Amazon is keeping busy.
You can head to the Amazon Alexa app on your mobile device, then tap on the menu to find the Skills page. From there, you can search for different topics to see if it's listed or specific ones you have in mind.
A recent update lets you enable Skills without needing to download it first through the app. Simply say "Alexa, enable Uber," or "Alexa, enable a 7-minute workout," and the skills will automatically be added.
Fitness with Alexa
You can sync up your Fitbit with Echo to check your fitness goals and progress. To take it one step further, there are simple exercise programs that can be enabled in the Skills section. If you start the programs with your music on, it will play faintly in the background.
This one comes with a timer and cycles between different reps. The latest version also keeps track of your exercises and resumes where you've left off. The companion app also provides images and directions for the various reps.
Ask: Alexa, start seven minute workout
Push Up Century Club
This one pushes you to well, increase your ability to do push ups. Based on your current level, Alexa will determine which set of reps you should start with. Then Alexa will guide you through a workout complete with 30-second breaks in between.
Ask: Alexa, start push ups or Alexa, start push ups on day four (for harder workout)
This skill has Alexa guiding you through a beginner's pilates class. The skill says you need a mat. From there, it will take about 20-30 minutes to complete.
Ask: Alexa, start pilates class
Sharing accounts and switching profiles
You can store different accounts to use the Echo though each person has to be a Prime member. Head to Settings in the Amazon Echo app then set up Household through a series of prompts that includes the other person to sign into their Amazon account.
From there, you can then switch profiles.
Ask: Alexa, switch profile
You can also figure out who's profile you're using if you've forgotten.
Ask: Alexa, which profile am I using
If you're dealing with a particularly large set of numbers and don't want to bust out a calculator, you can ask Alexa to do the math. She can do pretty long equations now along with adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing, square roots, power and factorials.
While there aren't actually that many game capabilities, there's several pages of trivia you can download from Skills. Jeopardy is a fun one that give yous six different clues every day allowing you to say (or ask) the answers to Alexa.
Ask: Alexa, play Jeopardy
For the older crowd, DrinkMaster has three games you can bring up during parties.
Ask: Alexa, start drink master
Pair Alexa with August Smart Lock
A recent update now lets you pair your August Smart Lock up with Echo. That means you can check to see if your front door is locked by simply asking Alexa. If it isn't, you can even ask her to lock it up for you. Using the smart lock hardware also requires an August Connect though, since Echo doesn't have the required frequencies to talk directly to the lock. Unlocking also isn't part of the deal since it poses a security risk.
If you have everything on hand, and installed, just head to the Skills in your Alexa app and download August Home. Link up the accounts and you should be set.
Mute the Echo
Sometimes, you may not want Alexa listening for the Wake word (Amazon, Echo or Alexa). Good thing you can turn it off by muting the Echo for awhile. 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.
Call an Uber
Add the Skill through the Amazon Alexa app then sync your accounts to allow access. Double check your location is correct in the app settings so your ride won't be driving around aimlessly trying to find you. Alexa can tell you the arrival status or cancel your request.
Ask: Alexa, ask Uber for a ride
Or if you want a more specific car like the UberX, UberBlack, UberSUV, UberXL and UberSelect, you'll have to tell her.
Ask: Alexa, ask Uber to order an UberSUV
Use non-supported smart home tech
By downloading apps like Yonomi of IFTTT, you can usually 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.
Alexa easter eggs
Much like random questions you can ask Siri, you can also ask Alexa fun little questions to get some pretty hilarious answers. Great for parties or if you're bored.
- Alexa, party on, Wayne.
- Alexa, is the cake a lie?
- Alexa, what's in name?
- Alexa, what does the fox say? (multiple answers)
- Alexa, who you gonna call?
- Alexa, who is the walrus?
- Alexa, do you have any brothers or sisters?
- Alexa, do you know the muffin man?
- Alexa, knock knock.
- Alexa, my name is Inigo Montoya.
- Alexa, set phasers to kill.
- Alexa, may the force be with you.