Amazon keeps investing in Alexa to improve the assistant program. She is a rock star at ordering items for you from Amazon as well as playing just the right songs. That got me thinking, what else can she do to make my life more enjoyable? I compiled a few tips to help you get the most out of your virtual assistant.
Setting Alexa Up
Ok, if you are anything like me you probably just turned on your echo tap, dot, show etc and started going. That says a lot about how easy Amazon makes it to use Alexa. Beyond the initial setup, here are some tips that may improve your experience. Remember you can change settings on your phone via the Alexa app or at alexa.amazon.com and it is very easy to do.
Make sure Alexa has your correct address not only to ensure those amazing Amazon packages get to your house but also for traffic, weather and updates.
Open the Alexa app and go to Settings
Look under Devices and select yours
Enter your address beside Device location or click Edit to change it.
Sometimes Alexa just doesn’t get what I am saying. It is nothing personal, she just needs a little help. Voice training helps Alexa learn your voice.
To create a voice profile, open the Alexa app and go to Settings
Look near the bottom for a setting called Your Voice
Follow the prompts and read the phrases into the speaker, then tap Complete
Default Music Service
Gotta have the best tunes right? Alexa is just getting to know you so she may not know that you love 80s music or 90s heavy metal. Here is where you can help her out. Alexa speakers are compatible with Amazon Music Unlimited, Amazon Prime Music, Pandora, Spotify, iHeartRadio, TuneIn and SiriusXM radio.
To set your favorite service as a default, go to Settings
Click Music & Media
Choose default music service
Click the button next to your preferred service and Done.
Even if you don’t have a favorite service, you can leave it on Amazon music. When you want to hear tunes, say something like “Alexa play 80s music” and she will find the best tunes for you.
Alexa can now deliver notifications. This is mostly for tracking your packages, but hey that is really important. In the future, it should work with other third-party services. When this service is on, Alexa will glow yellow and play a notification sound when your package is out for delivery and when it is delivered. This means no more stalking the UPS delivery person, Alexa knows exactly what they are doing at all times.
Go to Settings, Notifications, Shopping Notifications
Make sure that Delivery Notifications is turned on, that’s it! You are now stalking your delivery people.
These are just some of the settings for Alexa. Look at the other ones and see if any would be useful to you. They are all pretty easy to set up. Voice purchasing is one you may like.
Ok so now that we have some of your basic needs covered, let’s see what other fun things Alexa can do.
IFTTT and Alexa
Before we get into the fun, I do have to mention IFTTT (If This Then That). In a nutshell, it is a way for incompatible devices to work together. You do it be creating a recipe which is a simple script (applet) where an event on one device triggers an action on another. For more details and to sign up go to IFTTT.
Once you get to the IFTTT site, you can log in with Google or Facebook or just create a new account. They seem to want you to use Chrome as a browser. The site guides you through the setup and shows you what is available with your device.
There are many ways to use Alexa and not all require IFTTT but just wanted to make you aware of the site so you can investigate all your options. There are a lot of options here not only for Alexa but other devices so check them out.
To see all the ways you can use IFTTT with Alexa, go to ifttt.com/amazon_alexa and look through all the options. I like one in particular as I tend to lose my phone a lot.
Tell Alexa to find your phone
This recipe (applet) will allow Alexa to call your phone so you can find it. If you click on this applet, you will be asked to log in to your Amazon account and give basic permissions for the program to modify Alexa enough to get it to work. After completing this, you are brought to a screen that explains.
IFTTT needs permission to call your phone, then input your phone number.
A screen will come up asking for a pin number.
You get a call from California where a robotic voice gives you a pin number to enter on the screen.
Once you enter the pin you are set. If it doesn’t work go back to that applet and make sure you have it turned “on” Mine was not but once I turned it on, it worked.
I then went to Alexa and said “Alexa trigger, find my phone” in a few seconds I got a call from California and a robotic voice told me that Alexa attempted to find my phone on that time/date.
Note: I heard this works better on Android (which is what I have) over iPhone. If your iPhone is on silent you won’t hear it. On Android, there is a way to link 2 applets one for ringtone and it can either call or play music. Remember if you are trying to find your phone and it is on silent, that makes it tougher.
IFTTT needs a whole post to itself, so I will stop there. Just remember you can do so much more with Alexa if you use the recipes/applets on the IFTTT site. Once you have done a few, it is easy and you will be adding all kinds of new features to Alexa. When you use these you say “Alexa trigger, (insert your request)” this way Alexa knows she is working with a recipe on IFTTT. When you set up each recipe you designate the trigger word so it is all in your control. My trigger above was “find my phone”. The full phrase was “Alexa trigger, find my phone” which says to Alexa it is IFTTT and the “find my phone” was what I setup with IFTTT. You will get the hang of it once you do a few.
There are other ways to use Alexa that are more straightforward. One of my favorites is letting her find me deals. Remember to have voice purchasing turned on in your settings as I mentioned above. It would be Settings, Purchase by voice if you need a reminder.
What are your deals?
Ask “Alexa, what are your deals?” and you will receive a list of Prime-member exclusive deals. You need an Alexa-enabled device to get these deals. You can go to Amazon’s Voice Shopping page to get all the details.
Other phrases you can use include “Alexa, reorder dog food” Alexa will look to see what you have ordered previously and make a recommendation. She will ask, “would you like to buy?” Just say yes and the order will be placed. If you haven’t ordered the product before, she will make recommendations from Amazon choice products (highly rated products).
If you just want an item added to your cart you can say “Alexa, put toilet paper in my cart”. She will look to see what you have purchased previously, make a recommendation and if you confirm put it in your cart.
Other Useful Things
Uber and Lyft
If you already have these services set up with payment information, you can ask Alexa to request a ride or the cost of a ride. It is as easy as “Alexa, ask Uber to request a ride” the fare will be deposited from your account.
Stream Music in your house
If you have multiple Echo devices in your home connected to your Wi-Fi network, you can group them in the Alexa app to stream simultaneously. Go to Settings, Multi-room music and follow the instructions. Your whole house can be alive with your favorite music.
Be your personal trainer
If you want Alexa to get you in shape, you can enable a skill for a workout. Go to Amazon and enable the 7-minute workout skill. When you are ready for a workout just say “Alexa, Start 7-minute workout” and get your heart pumping.
As you can see there are many things Alexa can do and she is always learning new things. A good place to start if you want to see all her skills is on Amazon’s site in Alexa-skills that is the place I go first to learn what is going on in Alexa’s world. She can do a lot, so don’t let it overwhelm you. Just pick a few fun things you want to do and you will get the hang of it in no time. Make sure you check out the games section to have a little more fun.
Here is one of Alexa’s best skills to get your day started off in a positive manner. Just say…
“Alexa, pay me a compliment”
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