You may have just received a new Amazon Echo for the holidays. Maybe it's your first one, or maybe it's the second or third you've ever owned.
Echos range in price from around $25 (when the Echo Dot is on sale) up to $199.99.The speaker gets better as you go up in price, but the stuff Amazon's voice assistant Alexa can do remains the same. And Alexa can be really powerful, as long as you know how to set it up and what to ask it.
Here are a bunch of tips and tricks to get you going with your new Amazon Echo.
Echos can call other Echos much like you're just using a phone to call another phone. And, you can even use an Echo to call someone's cell, in case you're just kicking back on the couch and don't know where yours is. To do this, just configure a few things first:
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 leave voicemails on other people's Echos. So, if you want to send a voice message to your brother that he can play back whenever he gets the alert, just do this:
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:
Alexa can call you a ride if you're heading out to the airport. You just need to set it up with Lyft and Uber first. Here's what to do:
Amazon makes it pretty easy to order stuff from its website using Alexa, and sometimes even offers exclusive deals if you order using its voice assistant. Here's how to do it:
One of my favorite features on the Echo is the "flash briefing." This gives you a rundown of news from some of your favorite sources (including CNBC!) To set it up, do this:
You can use an Echo to control your Amazon Fire TV. That means you'll get voice controls for turning on a show, pausing or playing content and more. To begin:
Alexa Routines can be used to make Alexa do lots of things at once. So, if you say "Good Morning Alexa," it can tell you the news, traffic on your route to work, what's on your daily calendar and more. To do that, set up a routine:
Alexa can give you updates on your favorite sports teams, giving you info on scores and upcoming games for teams that you follow. Here's how to configure it:
Alexa can remind you to do stuff, like to pick up eggs on the way home or to call someone at a specific time.
An Echo can be a great cooking assistant in the kitchen, particularly if you set timers. Here's how to use one:
If you have a couple of Echos, you can get them to play music in different rooms at the same time. Here's how to set it up:
Now, you can speak something like "Alexa, play Beethoven downstairs," and Alexa will play music on the speakers in that group.
Amazon launched a feature for Alexa this year that allows you to control how fast or slow its voice responses are. So, you can slow down Alexa's speaking if you don't quite follow along with what it's saying. To do this, just speak one of two commands:
Amazon recently rolled out a premium feature that lets you get responses from Samuel L. Jackson to certain requests. You can ask him the weather, for example, or what's coming up on your calendar. It's funny, but it costs $1. If you want to try it, just do this:
Here are some commands to try:
Get stock quotes and the latest business news from Alexa. Just say "Alexa, ask CNBC for business news" or learn more here.