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In this post, you’ll discover the many benefits of Alexa as well all useful things you can use her for. This includes, but is not limited to Alexa on the Echo dot.
There are a few hidden, really cool, useful things Alexa can do for you that most Alexa users don’t even know exist
For starters, Alexa can instantaneously retrieve the current price of a stocker ticker.. or guide you through any recipe using her voice assistant technology. (and much more).
In this post, I’ll explore all of these advantages as well as secret Alexa skills very few are aware of.
- 1. Use Alexa for recipe instructions
- 2. Go voice shopping on Amazon with Alexa
- 3. Wake up or go to bed in style by automating your morning/evening routine
- 4. Get your health lowdown from your Fitbit
- 5. Control smart appliances
- 6. Instantly Monitor Stock Prices by Asking Alexa “how’s the market?”
- 7. Read a Kindle book
- 8. Send a Donation to a Charity
- 9. Use Alexa as an intercom or broadcast device
- 10. Whip up cocktails with The Bartender
- 11. Send for help in an emergency
- 12. Call friends and family – hands free, cost-free!
- What exactly does Alexa do?
- Smart Devices Alexa is compatible with
1. Use Alexa for recipe instructions
One of the most useful things you can use Alexa for are on the go “how-to” questions.
…Don’t tell them, but you can impress your friends and family with new and delicious dishes by asking Alexa’s help. On the Alexa app, you will find several skills just for the kitchen.
Take Allrecipes, for example. Get the recipe of the day by saying “Alexa, what is the recipe of the day?”.
The dish comes complete with a list of ingredients and instructions. Even better, if you have leftovers, say “Alexa, ask All recipes what I can make with beef and broccoli” to get recipe suggestions.
Alexa can even bring up recipes depending on your cooking preference, like slow cooking, or how much time you have to whip up a dish.
Other skills allow you to search recipes according to meal time, save ingredients of a recipe to a shopping list on your phone, or save a popular recipe to your favorites list.
Check out other kitchen skills too like Nestle’s Goodnes, Betty Crocker, and Food Network.
2. Go voice shopping on Amazon with Alexa
Any Echo device, using Alexa, supports voice-ordering on Amazon. Of course, you need to have an Amazon account and a default payment method indicated.
Just ask Alexa to search for an item you want, have it added to your shopping cart, and ask Alexa to make the payment. Next thing you know, your ordered item is at your doorstep.
One caution though for parents with kids – anyone talking to the Echo can make such purchases.
If you do not want your kids ordering stuff without your knowledge, toggle this feature by going to the Alexa app, Settings > Account Settings > Voice Purchasing and turn the feature off.
For those using Alexa on a Fire HD tablet: 9 Best Cases for Fire HD 8 & 8+ with Stand, Keyboard, Cover
You can also just add a PIN code you can orally say to authorize a purchase.
Amazon Prime members can also order food, groceries and other items from Prime Now, Whole Foods, or AmazonFresh. You will need the Prime Now app to check out though.
3. Wake up or go to bed in style by automating your morning/evening routine
This is a neat one for people who have certain morning or night routines. You can make waking up or going to bed so much easier.
Alexa is useful as your wake-up call but you can make waking up even fancier. First, you need to enable the “routines” skill of Alexa. The Echo gives you four basic options and you can add as many as eight more to lengthen your routine.
After Alexa has awakened you, say “Alexa, start my day” and Alexa executes your predefined routines. First, she could tell you the time.
Related: 14 Weird things to ask Siri (Crazy questions)
Next, she gives you the day’s weather report, followed by a quick rundown of the day’s top news or local news. After that, Alexa plays your favorite morning waker upper playlist from Spotify.
Then finally, a traffic report so you know what conditions will be like driving to work.
You can create an evening routine as well. Cool, right?
4. Get your health lowdown from your Fitbit
That Fitbit watch you are wearing has information that can be read back to you by Alexa.
On the Alexa app’s Skills and Games section, enable Fitbit. Log in like you would on Fitbit and allow Alexa access.
Here are some of the things you can let Alexa read back to you.
- Distance walked
- Number of steps taken
- Active minutes today
- How many flights of stairs climbed
- How many calories are left
- Water consumption for the day
- Resting heart rate
- Weight last recorded
- Quality of sleep last night
- Status of Fitbit’s battery life
Alexa is also now on the Fitbit Versa 2. Hold down the side button of Fitbit, speak when the Alexa symbol shows up on screen, and it displays the answer on the screen. Sorry, Alexa still does not speak from the Fitbit but who knows down the road?
5. Control smart appliances
Imagine saying “Alexa, ask Geneva to preheat my oven for turkey” and Alexa will even suggest the right temperature for that nicely browned turkey. Wondering who Geneva is? That is the Alexa skill of GE Appliances in all its smart appliances.
There are a growing number of smart large and small appliances that already work with Alexa…
They could be your house lights, slow cooker, the TV, ovens, microwaves, air conditioners, refrigerators, dishwashers, and even air fryers! Besides GE, brands like LG, Samsung, Whirlpool, Kenmore, Bosch, and many more are already coming up with smart appliances across product lines.
And guess what! Even non-smart appliances can be activated by Alexa as long as you have a WiFi plug.
Wouldn’t it be really cool to say “Alexa, make me some coffee” even while in bed, and by the time you get up 10 minutes later, your coffeemaker already has your coffee all brewed and ready?
6. Instantly Monitor Stock Prices by Asking Alexa “how’s the market?”
You can actually use Alexa to monitor stock prices on any New York Stock Exchange or NASDAQ stocks.
There is no need to interrupt what you are doing to check this. You may be reading a book, doing office work, or even just washing the car. Just ask Alexa.
To get a rundown of the Dow Jones, NASDAQ and S&P 500 indices to get a feel of the current stock market situation and recent performance, just say “Alexa, how’s the stock market?”.
To ask for a specific stock price, say “Alexa, stock price for [Stock Ticker]” Alexa will give you the current stock price as well as the time of that price (usually within the last 15 minutes of trading) as well as the price increase or decrease from the previous trading day.
7. Read a Kindle book
Do you have Kindle ebooks (or ebooks purchased through Amazon)? Let Alexa read to you when your hands are full or you feel too lazy to hold up the phone while reading. The Audible app does this well but some ebooks may not even have an Audible version. That’s where Alexa comes in.
First, note that you should have already previously connected your Kindle library to Alexa by signing in with your Amazon username and password. Launch the Alexa app.
Tap the Play button icon (this is found at the bottom of the screen). Scroll down until you find your Kindle Library. Select the book you want read aloud. Alexa will then begin reading it to you.
Alexa actually follows more commands for reading like pausing, skipping back, and resuming reading aloud. You will have to bear with Alexa’s robotic voice though.
8. Send a Donation to a Charity
Alexa now has a feature called Alexa Donations, powered by Amazon Pay. You can now make donations to your favorite charities just by using your voice.
There are two ways to make a donation. You can directly ask Alexa “Alexa, donate $20 to [name of charity organization]”. Another way is to simply say “Alexa, make a donation.”
Alexa will ask you for the name of the charity as well as the amount of donation. To complete the donation, it will use your Amazon account payment information.
As of this writing, when you go to the Alexa Donations page, you get around 380 results back showing the number of charity organizations that accept voice donations on Alexa as well as the voice syntax to use. This number continues to grow. Donating has never been easier and more convenient.
9. Use Alexa as an intercom or broadcast device
How do you get kids to come down for dinner without yelling?
If you have Echo devices active in several rooms you can transform Alexa into an intercom using Amazon’s Drop In feature (non-Amazon devices may not be able to use this). First, you need to rename your devices for easy identification, like “Masters Bedroom”, “Kids Bedroom”, and so on.
When you need to call someone from a room, tap “Echo and Alexa” under the Devices category on your Alexa app to select a room. To call the kids, for example, say “Alexa, drop in on Kids Bedroom”.
The Echo in that room will light up and chime. You can hear and speak to them and they can do likewise, just like a two-way intercom.
To use Alexa as a broadcast device, say “Alexa, tell everyone our movie is about to start” and that message is broadcast through all the devices at the same time.
10. Whip up cocktails with The Bartender
Learn how to make cocktails with an Alexa skill, The Bartender. The Bartender has over 12,000 recipes in its repertoire — many famous, others not so famous.
It pulls recipes off the cloud so the quality and the quantities of each recipe may vary. You can search the app’s cocktail library by type, flavor, and occasion. Also, this is a skill available only for mature audiences so you will be reminded of this when you first enable it.
Just say “Alexa, ask The Bartender how to make a Singapore Sling” and Alexa will proceed to tell you what ingredients you need and walk you through a step-by-step process. Next time you have friends around, impress them with your range of bartending skills. Nope, Alexa still cannot make the drink for you.
11. Send for help in an emergency
You can never predict when you will need help. As they say, emergency features are never appreciated till there is an emergency.
Enable the Ask My Buddy Alexa skill. Then you will need to create a personal network list on Ask My Buddy’s website composed of family and/or friends.
To send an alert to one contact on that personal network, say “Alexa, Ask My Buddy to alert [name of contact]”. To alert all your contacts in the network, say “Alexa, Ask My Buddy to send help”. An alert will go out to your contacts, asking them to check on you right away.
A premium feature of Ask My Buddy allows you to add a few more words to ask for a certain kind of help or describe what happened to you.
12. Call friends and family – hands free, cost-free!
Here’s a way to make a voice or video call to family and friends– free and hands free!
Sure, there are other ways to call contacts using WiFi or mobile data with “voice over internet protocol” (VoIP) apps but with Alexa, just verbally ask her to dial someone. If your contacts have Alexa-compatible devices like an Echo or Dot, you can both activate Alexa-to-Alexa calling. Just sync your contacts to the Alexa app.
Imagine how convenient it is. You could be busy at your desk, cooking in the kitchen, or vacuuming the carpet and still make the call just by speaking.
Simply say “Alexa, call [contact name]”. Alexa will ask you to confirm the name, then connect the call. If you are using Echo Show (basically an Echo with a screen), you can also make video calls using the same command.
Disadvantages of Alexa voice control
There are three main disadvantages of using Alexa on an Amazon device.
One, is that you could be compromising privacy as Alexa is always listening… however this is common on most of your smartphones that have voice assistant.
Secondly, is that, in theory, it can order you items via online shopping, that you didn’t ask for (or others can do it on your behalf).
The third disadvantage is that you must be a tech savvy individual to set up the phone to echo dot if you are using one… many older, less technically experienced adults may have trouble understanding how pandora or a music app works. How to get rid of ads and so forth.
Otherwise, there are no overwhelming reports of Alexa being hacked to manipulate any of your personal information and Alexa overall has some fantastic benefits that are hard to compete with and will make your life easier.
Unlike using Siri, Alexa will need to be in close range, so if you’re using an Echo Dot you’ll need to be in the same room or get multiple devices.
Related: 10 Creepy Things to Never Ask Siri (Scary questions)
List of Things Alexa can do?
Alexa has a long list of things you can do by utilizing this voice assistant on the Amazon devices. There are some benefits of using Alexa. For example, Alexa has a library of over one million tips, cooking recipes, and pieces of advice. It also has a free call option which is very easy to use.
Many people are also using Alexa to control other devices such as smart lightbulbs or even smart appliances.
See our post: How to Connect Roku to Bluetooth Speakers or headphones
The benefits don’t stop there because you can find stocks news by just saying “Alexa let me know what’s going on in the stock market. (you can also search for individual stocks and the timing of the update Alexa gives you is usually with the last 15 minutes).
When set up correctly, Alexa can even change the channel or turn up the volume as well as prompt captions of a show with a simple command.
When you want to use Alexa you need to make sure that your mobile device is near by because otherwise Alexa will not be able to hear your voice.
What exactly does Alexa do?
Alexa is a voice assistant that is found within the Amazon Echo smart speaker, Fire Hd, Firestick, and many other Amazon devices.
Additionally, Amazon Alexa is an interactive cloud-based service that allows users to interact with vast quantities of information, and has a variety of features, including audio book playback and voice recognition.
The Amazon Echo started becoming popular in the early 2010s due to its unique features and ease-of-use. By late 2013, it had already sold tens of thousands of units through online retailers like Amazon.com and Best Buy stores across North America.
What can Alexa control?
We know that Amazon Alexa can control a wide variety of home appliances and devices, but it can be easy to forget some of the more obscure things she’ll work with.
For example, Alexa can control your Samsung TV (and many other brands, such as VIZIO or LG)… if it has a fire stick tv attached to it or if your Smart TV has an Amazon Alexa built in it.
Alexa can even be used to protect your home. For example, she can recognize emergency stylus warnings and even alert for an emergency whether it’s to you or a third party.
Smart Devices Alexa is compatible with
Smart appliances and devices are those that enhance the performance of other connected technologies. Amazon Alexa can help control these additional devices by simply using the microphone and other controls to alert certain situations.
Here are the devices and appliances Amazon Alexa is compatible with:
- Smart bulb & Smart lights
- Smart Locks
- Smart plug
- Smart Tv’s with Alexa built-in
- Thermostats & changing temperature
- Tv’s with a fire stick attached
- Additional speakers
For example, a simple command of “Alexa, set the living room to 70 degrees” will set the thermostat within your smart home to the desired setting. Amazon Alexa is also capable of controlling many electrical devices through other outlets known as smart switches (like a light bulb, lock, or smart plug).
On top of being able to control many physical devices through switches, Amazon Alexa can also be used to control devices that are connected through Bluetooth. The process is somewhat similar to google voice assistant.
There are a ton of useful benefits the Alexa voice assistant can do for you. Alexa is integrated into many Amazon related devices, such as the Firestick 4k, Amazon echo dot, and the Fire HD 8 & 10.
Not only can Alexa play music for you, send help for emergency, or provide you the most up to date news (stocks, sports, etc)… but, Alexa
By using Alexa to help complete your daily tasks more efficiently by retrieveing information…and relaying said information verbally. This would normally take you tens of minutes to research and find without Alexa; proving to benefit most users.
The only caveat is that you have to simply remember to Use Alexa voice assistant to your advantage!