When Amazon first released Alexa in November 2014, most people assumed the virtual assistant software was Amazon’s version of Siri. And to some extent, it is that, a virtual assistant included in all of Amazon’s products from the Echo speakers to the newer Echo Show, a tablet-like smart speaker.
It’s been four years since Alexa’s original launch and what Amazon has created is so much more than a robotic voice that can sometimes tell you the weather. Alexa can do just about anything: play Netflix on your television, turn on the lights in your house and even preheat your oven for dinner. Still, there are other things Alexa can do that perhaps you didn’t know.
Here are five tricks for making Alexa work better for you.
Alexa’s got pipes
Ever wondered what life is like for Alexa? Ask her to sing and you just might find out. When asked to sing, Alexa busts out a tune about what it’s like being created with artificial intelligence. And if rap is more your style, Alexa will try and spit some bars, the virtual assistant can beatbox too, or at least tries to. While this isn’t a particularly helpful trick, it’s great if you find yourself needing a laugh.
Delete Alexa’s voice data
Amazon came under fire once customers realized Alexa was always listening to conversations that happen around the device. The device does this so that it can listen for its name and respond promptly. Despite the few one-off examples, Alexa isn’t recording everything it hears. Alexa-enabled devices begin recording once you use your wake word, which is generally “Alexa.” The request you make after using the wake word is what is then uploaded Amazon’s servers. You can manage recordings or delete them all using the Alexa app.
Call your family to dinner
Want to notify your family that dinner is ready without sending an easy-to-ignore text? Amazon has found a solution. The echo speakers can be transformed into intercoms with the command “Alexa, drop in on the _______ room.” Once activated, anything said will be played through the speaker in the room you’ve selected.
You know how when you’re driving in your car you can change the bass and treble to get the sound you love most out of your music? You can do that with Alexa as well. Simply tell your Alexa-powered device what level you’d like your bass, treble and mid-range tones at and the device will do the rest. Now, your bass-heavy playlist will sound exactly the same in your home as it does on your commute to work.
Create a routine for mundane tasks
Since Alexa works with so many smart home devices (lights, locks, thermostats, etc), Amazon introduced routines which allow users to say one word or phrase to accomplish many tasks at once. For example, setting up a nighttime routine with Alexa could allow you to lock your doors, turn off the house lights and play your bedtime playlist all with one command. You can also set routines to occur at the same time each night.
To set up a routine, open the Alexa app go to Settings > Accounts > Routines then tap the plus sign in the top right corner. Next tap “When this happens” and select “When you say something” or “At scheduled time.” You’ll have to select a time or phrase depending on which option you choose. Click done and begin adding action items. Once you’ve added all the actions to your routine, select finish and that’s it! Next time you’re ready to hop out of bed or play a movie, Alexa will make sure everything is done to your liking.