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You might have received an Amazon Echo over the holidays. If you're like my parents, you might feel a little daunted by it and consider leaving it in the box for a while. But, you should set it up. It only takes a couple of minutes and there are a lot of cool things you can do with it.
Then, once it's set up, come back to this guide. I have a some fun tips and tricks to get you started with your new Amazon Echo.
You can use the Amazon Echo to call phone numbers or anyone with an Amazon Echo. To call a phone number, you'll first want to make sure that person is in your Alexa address book. To check:
Once you've confirmed someone is in your address book you can call them by asking Alexa to call a specific person's phone or Echo. Here are the commands to try. (I put my own name in, but swap it out for who you're trying to call):
You can send voice messages to friends or family with an Echo too. It's kind of like leaving a voicemail, but your friends will get an alert on their Echo that they have a new voice message. Then, when they see the alert, they can ask their Echo to play it. To send a voice message:
If you have multiple Echos around your house, you can use them as an in-home intercom system. You might want to do this if you want to call the kids down to dinner, for example. Here's how to do that:
If you're at home and want to get a ride somewhere, you can ask Alexa to get you an Uber or a Lyft. You need to install either the Uber or Lyft skill first. Here's how to book a ride with Echo.
You can use your Echo to order goods from Amazon. Sometimes, like during Black Friday, Amazon even offers exclusive deals through the Echo. To order stuff from Alexa:
You can get a flash briefing from certain news sites you follow, including CNBC, the AP, BBC and more. Customize your Flash Briefing by doing this:
If you own a Fire TV, you can connect your Echo to the Fire TV so that you can ask Alexa to play specific shows or movies. You don't even have to touch the remote.
Amazon recently launched a new Alexa featured called "Routines." When you speak a certain preset command, like "Alexa, good morning," you can set Alexa to perform certain actions, like read you the weather, start playing music and tell you how long it will take you to get to work. Here's how to create a custom morning routine, but you can change any of these steps to make something else, too.
Now, when you say "Alexa, good morning." Alexa will tell you the local weather, how long it will take to get to work on your commute, and will then start playing Bruce Springsteen. (Note: if you haven't set up your commute in the Alexa app yet, you can do this by going to settings > traffic.)
Alexa can give you a quick briefing on your favorite teams. First, you need to tell it the teams you follow. To do this:
Alexa will read off the latest scores and upcoming games for each of the teams you follow.
You can ask Alexa to remind you to do things, too.
Alexa can be really useful in the kitchen, particularly if you want to set multiple timers at once. Maybe you need to set the oven to one timer and then create a second timer for something you have cooling in the fridge. To set multiple timers:
If you have multiple Echos around the house, you can link them up to play music at the same time in different rooms. I have a "downstairs" group for my Echos, for example, where I have my living room, dining room and kitchen all play the same music. To do this:
Open the Alexa app on your phone.
Now, you can speak something like "Alexa, play Beethoven downstairs," and Alexa will play music on the speakers in that group.
I think we've covered a lot here, but really that's just a taste of what you can do with an Amazon Echo in your home. You can dig deeper into the steps above to discover more of what you can do with an Echo. And, if you have an Echo Plus, you can even use the "Devices" section to add smart home gadgets, like lights, that you can control with Alexa.
Get stock quotes and the latest business news from Alexa. Just say "Alexa, ask CNBC for business news" or learn more here.