What is Alexa?
The newest way to organize your life has suddenly taken a sharp right into the sci-fi world. Alexa and all of her nifty devices act and feel just like the computer from your favorite science fiction series. And if you really want to get your geek on you can even change Alexa’s name to “Computer”. Now, how cool is that?
Is Alexa Right For You?
Okay, maybe you’re not that into the whole “sci-fi” feel, but anyone who tries an Amazon Echo device can’t help but see just how helpful it can. Around the home especially, for a relatively low price you have a voice-activated timer. Picture this: it’s Christmas time, your hands are covered in flower and who knows what else and you’ve just mixed another bunch of cookies. Wouldn’t it be nice just to call out a for a timer versus having to wash your hands, find a towel to dry them, only to find out your timer being used for something else you’re baking? That’s another great feature with the Echo timers, multiple timers. Set a timer for sugar cookies, the ham, and your angel food cake.
Have you ever put a load of laundry in to wash in the morning, only to remember about it six hours later? With Alexa, you can tell her to remind you in, let’s say, an hour to check on the laundry. One hour later… ding, ding, this is a reminder about your laundry. No more having to ruin clothes or rewash. One of my personal favorites is setting up reminders over food. I cook a lot of sauces, which take time to cool before putting in the refrigerator.
Alexa… remind me to put my sauce away at 6:30 p.m.
And if I don’t happen to hear the reminder, Alexa sends a message to my smartphone.
Not convinced that this is the best new technology since the invention of, well… technology? I use two Amazon Dots in my home currently, one in the kitchen and one in my office. Just for the reminders alone, it was well worth the cost of the devices. But…
Alexa… Pandora… Elvis Presley.
Okay, it doesn’t matter who your fav musician might be. What does matter is no matter what you’re doing, you’re three words away from chillin’ with your favorite tunes. Or, if you happen to love reading but lack the time to sit and read, Alexa can read your Kindle books to you. She may not always get the words correct all the time, but at least she’s fun to listen to. I have noticed the more she reads a particular word though, the better the word sounds down the line.
Want to relax while reading? Say “Alexa, play some relaxing music“, and she will play something such as violin music. If you’re a Prime member she will play something commercial free. If you open a free Pandora account, she will also play from there. “Alexa, play movie soundtracks on Pandora“. You can also skip, or pause playback at anytime by saying “Alexa, skip” or “pause/stop“.
How about news? Alexa is known for her “Flash Briefings”. But if you don’t watch out, your briefing won’t be brief at all. Without realizing it, I had added nine different news feeds to my briefing, and it took over an hour to finish. There are way too many fun options to add. Incidentally you can say “Alexa, skip” and it will move on to the next item in your preset briefing. To set up your briefings, just go to the Alexa app on your phone and click the settings. Choose one that’s featured, or search for one of the more than 10,000 offerings.
On the other hand, other apps can be very annoying by using long, unmemorable names. You have to keep a notebook nearby to recall the names of some of the apps. And, like the app store on your smartphone, a lot of the apps aren’t worth your time. It can be time-consuming wading through the time-waster apps. There are, however, may blogs and websites that rate new apps for you so you don’t have to waste your time. Amazon also sends out a weekly “What’s New With Alexa” e-mail that gives pointers and explains any new features, which is very helpful.
Alexa is still young, so she’s still very much in the learning stages. Remarkably, she is learning rather quickly.
Alexa really is a must-have for any household, especially busy ones. We went from “Ah, we don’t need that” to “How did we live without it?” Find out for yourself just how handy Alexa really is.
For affordable home automation products compatible with Alexa, we highly recommend utilizing Ebay. Check out some great deals below: