Amazon Echo (“Alexa”) Tips and Tricks

Wondering what you can do with your Amazon Echo?  Here are some tips and tricks to use Alexa to her full potential.

Music

  • Load your own songs: The Amazon Echo won’t accept SD cards or otherwise store your music locally, but you can upload up to 250 songs to the Amazon Cloud Player for free.  Just go to the Amazon Cloud Player to get started.  Alexa will then happily play your requests.
  • Amazon Prime Music: Don’t forget you have access to the Amazon Prime music library on the Amazon Echo (if you’re a Prime subscriber). Just ask Alexa to play a song or artist from the vast Prime Music library to hear full songs.  “Alexa, play some Foo Fighters.”
  • Pandora Radio: While Alexa can stream ad-free iHeart Radio, if you have already perfected your stations on Pandora, you can now listen to them as well (with, sadly, the ads).  Link up your Pandora account using the Amazon Echo app or echo.amazon.com.  Then, you’ll need to specify “Pandora” whenever you request Alexa to play a station.  For example: “Alexa, play Blink 182 radio on Pandora“.   You can also vote with your voice by saying, “Alexa, thumbs up.”
  • Prime Stations: Amazon offers Prime subscribers an ad-free streaming radio service called “Prime Stations”.  Simply say “Alexa, play the Green Day Prime Station” to start rockin’.  You can also skip with a “Alexa, next” or replay a song by saying “Alexa, go back”.  You can help customize the stations by saying “Alexa, thumbs up/down”.  (added 5/8/2015)
  • Spotify:  Go into the Alexa app to link your Spotify Premium account, then ask Alexa things like “Alexa, play ‘jazz’ on Spotify” or “Alexa, play Ed Sheeran on Spotify”.  (added 2/5/2016)

Traffic

  • Traffic reports: Alexa can now tell you the fastest way to work.  Just go to echo.amazon.com to configure your work and home addresses. Then say, “Alexa, how’s the traffic?”

Weather

  • Snowfall amounts: Alexa normally doesn’t give snowfall amounts, but if you ask “Will it snow today?” or “Will it snow on Tuesday?”, she’ll give you the probability of snow and the expected amount.

Shopping

  • Track your Amazon packages: Wondering where your order is? Just ask, “Alexa, where’s my stuff?” and the Echo will provide an update.  The Echo will also tell you when the order was placed and it will add a link to more details in the Alexa App. (added 5/13/2016)
  • Print your Shopping List: You can’t tell Alexa to print anything, but you can head over to echo.amazon.com on your computer and print your shopping list from the website.
  • Order Domino’s: Use the Alexa app to enable the “Domino’s Pizza Skill”.  Then, Alexa can place an Easy Order or check the status of your existing order.

Wikipedia

  • Guess the celebrity’s age: How often have you wondered how old an actor or actress is while watching TV?  Simply ask Alexa!  For example, you can ask: “How old is Gwyneth Paltrow?”

Home Automation

  • Control Belkin WeMo: Alexa can now control your appliances connected to a WeMo control device.  For example: “Alexa, turn on the air purifier”.  You can get started by saying, “Alexa, discover my appliances.”  Need some WeMo controllers?  Alexa works with the WeMo Switch, WeMo Light Switch, and WeMo Insight Switch.
  • Control Philips Bulbs: Alexa can also control your Philips bulbs.  For example: “Alexa, turn on the living room light”.  Need some bulbs?  Alexa works with the Philips A19 bulb, Philips Lux bulb, Philips BR30 bulb, Philips Bloom light, and Philips Lightstrip.
  • Wink Connected Home: The Wink Connect Home hub is now supported by the Echo.  Just pull up the Echo app, go to Settings, then Connected Home.  You’ll find the option to login to your Wink account, and then you can then say, “Alexa, discover my devices”.  The Amazon Echo can then control bulbs, appliances, and more!
  • Samsung SmartThings: Alexa keeps learning more and more home automation skills.  She now controls Samsung’s SmartThings Hub, including SmartThings Outlet and OSRAM bulbs.  To introduce Alexa to your SmartThings, connect your devices to your home Wi-Fi and name them in their respective app. Then say, “Alexa, discover my appliances.”  (added 8/21/2015)
  • ecobee Thermostat: Alexa can manage the temperature in your home if you have the ecobee3 Smarter Wi-Fi Thermostat.  You can say things like “Alexa, set the temperature to 72” or “Alexa, increase the temperature in my home.”  (added 2/12/2016)
  • Lutron: Alexa’s voice control is also available for Lutron’s wireless dimmers and switches  (added 4/8/2016).
  • IFTTT Channel: Amazon now has a channel in IFTTT that brings some integration to your phone and home devices.  For example, I can have Alexa add items to my iPhone’s built-in Reminders list thanks to the new IFTTT channel.  Amazon states that they will be adding more features in the future.
  • Check out the complete list of connected home devices supported by the Amazon Echo.

Movies and Entertainment

  • Movie Showtimes: When planning your evening, you can ask the Amazon Echo things like “Alexa, when is ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens” playing?” or simply “Alexa, what movies are playing?”.  Of course, Alexa will need to know your location, which can be set in the Alexa app.
  • Read Kindle books: Alexa can read your Kindle books out loud.  Simply say, “Alexa, read my Kindle book” or “Alexa, read (book title).”

Setup

  • Reconfigure your WiFi: Did you recently change your WiFi password, and now Alexa refuses to talk to you?  Press and hold the “Action” button (the button that is not the “Mute” button) for five seconds. The light ring will change to orange, and then you can use the Amazon Echo app on your phone to reconfigure the Echo.

Fun Stuff to ask Alexa

  • How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
  • What’s your favorite color?
  • Will you marry me?
  • When were you born?
  • What’s your favorite food?
  • Are we in the Matrix?
  • Want to play global thermonuclear war?
  • Self destruct.
  • What does the fox say?

[icon name=icon-arrow-right] Check out the Amazon Echo on (you guessed it) Amazon

Replacement remote for Amazon Echo
 
Replacement power adapter for Amazon Echo


  1. Wundur Wumun December 26, 2015 at 12:26 pm

    Actually, if you pair a bluetooth device (ie: your phone) that has the amazon prime app with Alexa, she will play the music from your phone provided you have the amazon prime app set to “device” instead of “cloud”. She can still follow some voice commands too.

  2. […] be sure to check some tips and tricks that you can perform on the Echo and Echo […]

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