Amazon Alexa – What is she good for?
Summoning knowledge from a smart speaker is nothing short of futuristic. But, Amazon Alexa is so much more than an information relay system. What else is she good for?
- At last count, Amazon Alexa actually has 25,000 different skills, far more than any other voice assistant.
- In addition to general knowledge, Alexa can also perform translations from English to Spanish, German, Japanese, Italian, and more.
- Although 27% of us think digital assistants encroach on our privacy, the experts tell us that’s not true. In fact, the devices only listen and record once you prompt them with the “wake word.”
- Are Amazon Echo owners the result of a massive marketing ploy? Device owners actually spend more than Prime members.
Since the release in 2014, Amazon Alexa has changed our lives. This virtual assistant resides in our speakers, tablets, smart remotes, thermostats, and more. She’s smart and sassy depending on your request and she can even learn as she goes. Did you watch the Super Bowl with your Echo speaker nearby? Were you surprised that Alexa didn’t respond to all of the “Alexa” commands during their top-ranking commercial? You shouldn’t be. The Amazon team uses patented technology to transmit snippets of their commercials to the speaker. From there, your Echo speaker develops an acoustic fingerprint to determine when it’s you or the TV saying her name.
Of course, when you first get an Alexa-enabled device you’ll be delighted as you ask countless (and seemingly meaningless) questions. Suffice to say, we’ve come a long way since Siri’s inception in 2011. But, when the novelty wears off, what good is Amazon Alexa, really?
While most of us don’t sit around quizzing virtual assistants and their breadth of knowledge, it certainly is entertaining. For example, you can ask Alexa to recite the value of pi and she’ll go on for over a minute, hitting every digit. But, there is, indeed, more to life and the real world goes on. For that, Alexa is also armed and ready to get you through each step of your day. She can help you with the weather, talk about your schedule, and even send a quick text when you’re running behind. Here are some practical uses for the smart assistant:
- Guide you through recipes
- Answer questions about famous people
- Solve math equations
- Set timers and alarms
- Stream music
- Answer general questions
- Relay traffic and weather reports
- Read headlines
- Tell dad jokes
It’s clear that having Alexa around is certainly handy. Imagine being halfway through a recipe when you realize it uses the metric system. Or, you can finally have an answer for the recurring “what else is she in?!” question while you binge watch Netflix. It’s even perfect for parents who are struggling with their kids’ math homework.
The most popular access point of Alexa has to be the Echo range of speakers. Developed by Amazon, the native hardware is an obvious first choice for those wanting the virtual assistant. And, with this suite of devices, you can cover everything you need:
- Echo Dot Smart Speaker – Small yet mighty, this connected speaker is the most affordable in the Echo range.
- Echo Plus Speaker Hub – With 360 degrees of audio, this versatile speaker has powerful microphones to pick up your commands from anywhere.
- Echo Show Smart Display – Functioning like a central hub, the stunning display lets you video chat with total clarity. Plus, you can “drop in” on other Alexa devices with a single command.
- Echo Spot – Compact and adorable, this alarm actually features a small display so you can stream video content.
- Echo Look Camera – Getting ready has never been so easy. This smart camera pairs with advanced alogrithms to become your virtual personal stylist.
Home of the future
When Alexa first came on the scene, the majority of us were satisfied with her knowledge and quips; there was nothing on the horizon that we longed for. However, if we learned anything from CES 2018, it’s that voice-activated devices are only just getting started. Just imagine stepping out of the shower and wanting to know the weather before you get dressed. You can ask Alexa to relay the information and hear it through the smart mirror in your bathroom.
There are plenty of smart home devices that can make your life easier. However, with Alexa, they’re even smarter. This integration transforms each device into a real asset, giving you more control everywhere in your home. As a result, Alexa helps you to create a network inside your home. Linking between devices, one command can put all of your smart home devices to your preferred settings all at once. All you have to do is add them to the Alexa app on your smartphone. Here are some smart home devices that you can sync with Alexa:
- U by Moen Smart Shower – Using your voice, you can manage your shower including the temperature and pressure. You can even save your settings for a truly personalized morning.
- Anker Roav Viva Alexa Car Button – Like an Alexa system for your car, this device lets you do things like pre-order pizza before you even get home.
- Shark ION ROBOT Robotic Vacuum – A simple vocal command via Alexa gets this vacuum going. You can even vocalize your preferred schedule.
- Kohler Verdera Smart Mirror – Everything from adjusting the brightness of the built-in lights to pumping out your favorite tunes is just a command away.
- Sonos One Smart Speaker – Alexa isn’t confined to Echo devices alone. You can now channel her along with brilliant audio all in one unit.
- Amazon Alexa Echo Smart Buttons – Syncing with the Echo speakers, these buttons can turn into game pieces where you can buzz in your answer to upgrade family game night.
- IFTTT – If you’re looking for even more integration than the market has to offer, look no further than If This Then That. This app helps to bridge any remaining gaps between Alexa and devices.
So, there you have it. Using just a simple command, you can clean your house, order pizza, catch up on the news, and set the perfect lighting all while you take a personalized shower. And, help your kids with their homework. Unless you live with someone named Alexa, having this intelligent virtual assistant around seems like a no-brainer.
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