Whether you've been living with the Amazon Echo or Amazon Echo Dot for months or have just picked one up, listen up. Yes your smart speaker can play your music, set alerts and tell you what the weather's going to be like tomorrow just by talking to it, but that's just the tip of the Alexa-enhanced iceberg.
Beyond the basics, and even the takeaway-ordering, train-tracking, game-playing Skills you can add, there's plenty these digital assistant equipped speakers can do. Including a whole lot you're probably not aware of.
Essential reading: Amazon Echo Dot review
We're not just talking about dropping bad jokes or reading you a story either. Sit by your Echo and prep your vocal chords, these are the Amazon Echo tips and tricks you need to try for yourself.
Sharing accounts and switching profiles
It's time to stop being selfish and learn to share. Yes, Alexa might be your new best mate, 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?"
Give Alexa a new name
Maybe you don't like the name Alexa. Maybe your name's Alex and things are getting a bit confusing. 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
Read this: The best Alexa Easter eggs
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.
Delete embarrassing questions
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.
Get Alexa to repeat herself
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.
Resetting 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.
Ensuring Echo is up to date the easy way
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 new Skills with your voice
Speaking of which, did you know you no longer need the smartphone app to add new 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.
Read this: The best Amazon Echo skills to try out first
You do have to know the Skill by name, and thanks to Echo's open API and growing support, that's getting increasingly tricky. New Amazon Echo Skills have been rolling in thick and fast. 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.
Google Home can't yet set reminders (it will later in the year), but Alexa can! You can now say something to the effect of "Alexa, remind me to pick up James 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.
Get help with your maths homework
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.
Make calls using Alexa
Another nifty new trick Alexa has learned 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 an 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".
Mute the Echo
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!
Call an Uber
There are thousands of Skills out there now. This has to be one of the most practical though. Add the Uber Skill through the Amazon Alexa app, sync your accounts to allow access and, once you've double checked your location is correct, you're in the taxi-ordering hotseat.
Saying "Alexa, ask Uber for a ride," will cover the basics, although stipulating the type of Uber you want can secure you an UberX, UberXL or UberBlack too. What's more, with the right commands, Alexa can tell you the arrival status or cancel your request.
Making your home smarter
Use non-supported smart home tech
Your Nest, Honeywell of SmartThings connected devices might already play nice with the system, but there's a work around for connected tech trying to go it alone. By downloading apps like Yonomi of 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.
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.
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