Tech

The great Alexa guide: 37 tips for Amazon Echo

Wake-up call, shopping list, personal voice profile and more – this is how you get the most out of the voice assistant Alexa.

1. Setup

1.1 Set up Echo

The establishment of a new one Echo model succeed in a few minutes. Here’s how to do it. The setup is largely identical for all Echo models. An important prerequisite for this: The Echo requires a WLAN connection to your home network and thus to the Internet. The easiest way to set up is on your smartphone. Alternatively, it can also be done on the computer in the browser on the website https://alexa.amazon.de.

Connect Echo, load app

First connect your Echo to a socket using the supplied connection cable and power supply. The blue light on the echo begins to shine. After about a minute, the echo glows orange and Alexa greets you.

NewsABC.net the free one Alexa app from Amazon to your smartphone or tablet. The app is available for Android and iOS.

Set up echo 

Open the Alexa app. If the setup does not start automatically, tap on “Devices” at the bottom right and then on the plus symbol. Go to “Add Device -› Amazon Echo ”and select your Echo model.

Wait for the app to find the echo. Tap the device name. Then select your WLAN and enter the WLAN password – you’re ready to go.

POWER TIP:

If the Echo cannot establish a connection to the WLAN, please pull the Echo power supply unit out of the socket. Then plug the device back in and try again. Depending on the Echo model, either press the action key or the microphone and volume keys until the device lights up orange.

1.2 Change activation word for Alexa

The voice assistant Alexa knows several nicknames. How to switch to another activation word.

The Echo models from Amazon and other products with Alexa on board are preset so that you address the device with the activation word “Alexa”. This is easy to remember, but it poses problems if a family member has the nickname “Alexa” or “Alex”. Then you should use an alternative activation word. Another scenario: You want to use several Echo devices in neighboring rooms and be able to address each Echo in a targeted manner. In this case it is practical to give the individual echoes different activation words.

That’s how it works:

Open the Alexa app on your phone and tap on “Devices”. Select your Alexa device and go to “Activation word”. There are currently four different nicknames to choose from.

1.3 Adjust volume

You can easily adjust the volume of Alexa with voice commands and controls on the device.

If you are standing right next to the Echo, use the control buttons on the housing for “louder” and “quieter” to change the volume. On Echo models with a rotary control, simply move the rotary switch.

On demand you change the volume of Alexa step by step with the voice commands “Alexa, louder” and “Alexa, quieter”. The voice assistant is extremely versatile when it comes to volume control. In addition to “louder / quieter”, the commands “Alexa, increase the volume” and “Alexa, decrease the volume” or “Alexa, up” and “Alexa, down” are also possible.

If you would like to set the volume to a certain level immediately, please say: “Alexa, volume 5”. The 5 stands for a medium volume, values ​​from 0 (mute) to 10 (loudest) are possible.

1.4 Set up an echo with a touchscreen

Set up an echo with a touchscreen

Thanks to the built-in touchscreen, you don’t need your smartphone or the Alexa app to set up an Echo Show or Echo Spot.

The 10-inch HD color screen of the second generation Echo Show is not only an advantage when playing videos and displaying websites. You can also set up the device and adjust the settings on the touch-sensitive screen. The more compact show models 5 and 8 and the older Echo Spot with its round display can be configured just as easily. Like every Echo model, the Echo variants with a display also require a WLAN connection to the home network and the Internet.

Connect echo

Connect the included power supply to the Echo Show or Echo Spot and connect it to an electrical outlet. After about a minute, the screen turns on and Alexa greets you. Then follow the on-screen instructions.

Set up echo

Set your preferred language. The next step is to select your radio network. Tap the name of your WLAN in the list. Then enter the password for the WLAN and please confirm the connection.

In the next step, log in to your Amazon account. Confirm the suggested time zone.

In the next dialog you can give your Echo Show or Echo Spot a name. As a result, the setup routine performs an online update for the device, which can take a few minutes. After the update is complete, you will see a short introductory video that you can skip.

Call up echo settings

There is no menu item for the settings of your Echo model. Instead, simply swipe your finger down from the top of the screen – and the settings dialog appears immediately.

1.5 What are skills and where can I find them?

Skills allow you to add new skills to Alexa and customize your Echo device to your personal preferences.

Skills are small apps for echo speakers, with which you can unlock new functions. You receive these skills in the Alexa Skill Store or via the Alexa app. Calling a taxi, reading recipes or finding out when the next bus is going – all of this is possible with skills. Several thousand of the small Alexa programs are available in Germany.

Find skill:

To install a skill, go to the three bars in the Alexa app on the top left and click on “Skills and Games”. Now you are in the Skill Store, which works similarly to the app stores from Google, Apple and Microsoft. Here either tap on “Categories” and then browse through the various subject areas for exciting apps. Or you can tap on “Search” or on the magnifying glass symbol in the top right and enter a keyword or the name of the skill you are looking for. Advertising space in the app should also indicate interesting skills.

Install Skill:

The skill description tells you what the program does and which voice commands you use to call and use it in Alexa. A tap on “Activate for use” installs the skill.

Call Skill:

To use the freshly installed skill, simply tell your Echo the activation phrase given in the skill description, usually “Alexa, open .

1.6 Keep skills up to date and delete them again

Over time, you will get a lot of Alexa skills. It is important to keep skills up to date and to muck them out occasionally.

Once you have set up skills, you can manage them in the Alexa app on your smartphone and in the Alexa web menu: In the Alexa app, go to the three bars and select “Skills and games”. Then tap on “Your Skills” at the top.

On the computer, go to the alexa page in the browser. amazon.de and log in with your Amazon account. Click on “Skills” in the menu on the left and “Your Skills” in the top right.

The next step is the overview with your skills. At the top you see several buttons, the left one shows you how many skills you have activated. Below you can see the active apps. If you tap on a name, you will come to the respective skill description. Here you can switch off skills that you no longer want to use by selecting “Deactivate Skill”.

On the description page of skills that require special permissions, such as access to web services, you will find the “Settings” button. This allows you to change or withdraw approvals granted to the skill.

Alexa automatically updates skills as soon as the developer provides an update. A tap on the “Updated” button on the mobile phone or a click on “Just updated” in the web menu informs you about the update process.

POWER TIP:

In addition to many useful and fun skills, there are a lot of skills with quality deficiencies in the Amazon skill store: either the skills do not work as described, they crash or their use is quite cumbersome. For security reasons, please delete such skills as soon as possible.

2. Media playback

2.1 Control music playback on the Echo

If you use an Echo device with an Amazon Prime account, you already have a good base of music and are ready to play. Few voice commands take control.

You can start playing music immediately after you set up an Amazon Echo. Just try it out with a few voice commands: “Alexa, play music from Rihanna” starts playing a randomly selected song by the R&B and pop singer. Please note: If a song, album, artist, genre or playlist is not available in your personal music library with purchased content, Alexa searches for it on Amazon Music or – if available – in the audio samples in the shop for digital music.

In the event that you have no direct wish, try “Alexa, random play”. Basic control commands are “Next” for the next song, as well as “Stop”, “Pause” and “Continue”. Some advanced commands for music are, for example, “Alexa, play what’s hot in Brazil” and “Alexa, play songs similar to the Sixties”.

As an alternative or supplement to Amazon’s own music offering, you can also store other streaming services such as Spotify, Deezer and Apple Music in the Alexa app.

2.2 Watch TV on the display of your echo

With Stream Player you can turn your Amazon Echo Show or Spot into a mini TV.

Many TV stations put their content online as video streams free of charge. These include public service broadcasters such as ARD, ZDF and the third programs. With the Skill Stream Player you can access these streams directly by voice command. Install the skill via the Alexa app. Then the command “Alexa, start stream player” is enough, and a clear station list appears on the display. Now you can either swipe your finger through the offer and tap the desired program to watch TV on your Echo. Alternatively, say the name of the station or activate the player using “Alexa, start stream player and play ARD” in order to start playing the desired station directly. The offer currently includes around 135 channels in different languages.

2.3 Have audiobooks and e-books read aloud

Amazon’s voice assistant can also read books and play audio books. Find out how exciting listening pleasure works.

Alexa and listening literature go well together. With Alexa, you can listen to books that you would not otherwise read during activities such as cleaning, resting or falling asleep.

Listen to music with Alexa:

Read Kindle books

Alexa reads Amazon digital Kindle books. And it doesn’t matter whether you bought or borrowed the e-book in question. The available books are displayed in the Alexa app under “Communication”. Scroll down to Kindle Library and tap View All.

In the Alexa web control menu at alexa.amazon.de the books appear with a click on “Music, Videos and Books” and “Kindle Books”. Click on a book and select the Echo to play. Use a voice command to start reading aloud with “Alexa, give the Kindle e-book again”. Then say “Alexa, pause / skip / stop / resume” to control the playback.

Play Audible audiobooks

Users of the Amazon subscription-based subscription service Audible can also play their audiobooks via Alexa. The titles appear in the Alexa app and the web interface above or below the Kindle books. The command “Alexa, read my audiobook” plays the last book you heard in Audible. Using “Alexa, read von Audible ”you will hear the desired book from your Audible library.

2.4 Play your own music with Alexa

Alexa cannot voice-play music that you have saved on your PC. A skill solves the problem.

Spotify, Deezer, Apple Music, Tune-In and of course Amazon Music: The Echos offer numerous options for streaming music from the Internet. The Amazon developers have provided Bluetooth for the playback of songs stored locally on the computer or smartphone on an echo. With Bluetooth, however, you control playback on the smartphone being played and not via echo voice commands. Apple has now discontinued the function of streaming MP3 files locally on iPhones via the detour to Apple Music. You can still use a trick to enjoy songs and albums from the local music library on your computer or on the Echo.

That’s how it works:

Open the Alexa app on your smartphone and install the My Media skill on the three bars and on “Skills and Games”. The skill plays music from your computer via the internet connection on the Echo. The title is selected with your vote. Say “Alexa, open my media and play music from “Or” … play the album “. Also “… play the song from ” is allowed.

The skill includes a tool for the PC that serves as a server and streams the music files onto the Internet. NewsABC.net the tool for Windows and Mac OS from mymediaskill down. The tool and skill are free of charge, and the manufacturer charges an extremely moderate five euros per year for streaming. Good: You can try out the skill and tool free of charge for seven days.

3. Smartphone

3.1 Use Alexa as an app on your smartphone

If there is no echo speaker within earshot, simply use the Alexa app on your smartphone for your questions or voice commands.

Set up Alexa on your phone

Amazon has integrated Alexa into the Alexa app for Android and iOS. Open the app on your phone. Tap the blue round icon at the bottom center. The first time you open Alexa, you must allow the app to access the microphone. To answer location-related questions such as the weather, the app also needs access to the location services.

Talk to Alexa on your cell phone

If you want to speak to Alexa, tap the large Alexa button at the bottom of the display. Then ask your question – as usual with the Echo speaker – or give Alexa instructions. You can omit the introductory activation word “Alexa”. The app does not support convenient activation of Alexa on call with “Alexa …”.

3.2 Connect smartphone via Bluetooth

An Echo device with an integrated loudspeaker can be connected to a smartphone, tablet or notebook via Bluetooth to output its sound. The setup is done quickly.

To pair a mobile device with the Echo wirelessly, open the Alexa app. Bring the left navigation area to the foreground and switch to “Settings”. Select the desired Echo device here under “Device settings”. Then tap on the “Bluetooth devices” option and then on “Pair a new device”. The echo now changes to pairing mode. Open the Bluetooth settings on the smartphone. Select your Echo device. In our example the name is “Echo-XXD” – by the way, it is also shown in the Alexa app. It may take a few seconds for your echo to appear in the list. Say “Alexa, Disconnect” to disconnect the mobile device from the Echo. The next time you want to connect your Echo to your smartphone, switch Bluetooth back on in the settings and then say: “Alexa, Connect”. If you have multiple Bluetooth devices connected to your Echo, the Echo will always connect to the last used device.

3.3 Making phone calls with the Alexa app

Mobile freedom:

With the mobile phone and the Alexa app, you can call your Echo devices on the go – free of charge in the WLAN.

Communication in the Alexa infrastructure is not limited to the Echo devices. With the Alexa app for Android and iOS, you can get in touch with an echo loudspeaker and make calls as with drop-in. You are not limited to home WiFi, but can also call from the office or on the go. This function is free of charge – there are only charges for your mobile internet connection if there is no WLAN nearby. Conversely, of course, a cell phone with the Alexa app can also be sparked from an echo.

After you have synchronized the contact list in the Alexa app on your smartphone (see also tip on the right), those contacts that are connected to an Alexa infrastructure appear in the “Communication” area of ​​the app (speech bubble symbol). Open a contact and now tap on the info symbol in the top right to see the contact details. Slide the “Allow drop in” slider to the right to give the contact permission to communicate with your Echo devices.

If you tap a shared contact in the list, you will be taken to the message screen, which allows you to send a text message. This is received on the Echo devices at home in the form of a notification and is read out loud when Alexa is retrieved. You can start a voice call, a video call or a drop-in call using the three symbols at the top. With the first two options, all echoes in the household are activated and ring while the call is being conducted via the device near which you say “Alexa, accept”.

With the “Drop In” option, you first select which echo from the list you want to contact and then conduct the call. Conversely, call with “Alexa, call on ”from your echoes to the cell phone number stored in the contact list and then make a voice or video call.

POWER TIP: You can use the megaphone symbol to make a written or spoken announcement that is played back simultaneously on all connected Echo devices.

3.4 Video calls with Echo Show & Spot

You can make free video calls with display echoes and drop-in.

Call echoes with a display your own, expand the drop-in communication by the dimension of the moving image. After you set up drop-in as in the previous tip, video communication is automatically activated for the show and spot models. You will then see the person you are talking to large on the display, while your own picture is shown in the top right. If you would like to maintain your privacy, just touch the display and press the round button “Camera”.

3.5 Synchronize or enter contacts

To allow you to communicate with your family members, roommates and other people, give the Alexa app access to your contact list.

After installation, the Alexa app asks you to access your smartphone’s address book. This is useful if, for example, you want to make drop-in or mobile calls within your Alexa infrastructure. To add a contact to the app manually, tap on the person icon in the “Communication” area at the top right, open the menu with the three dots and select “Enter contact”. If you want to protect your privacy from Amazon, you can prevent the automatic and regular synchronization with your address book in the same menu with the “Import contacts” option and by deactivating the switch to the right of “Import contacts”.

More protection with Alexa:

Dealing with personal data

4. Alexa in everyday life

4.1 Start the day with an Alexa wake-up call

Your Echo speaker gives a passable alarm clock. He will get you out of sleep in the morning at your preferred time – day after day.

You can easily set the Alexa alarm clock on call. Changing and deleting is not quite as convenient because Amazon has no voice command for this. Instead, you have to whip out your cell phone with the Alexa app – or make the change on the PC at alexa.amazon.de.

Set alarm clock

The alarm clock is already pre-installed in Alexa – so you don’t need a skill. If you want to get up at 6:30 am the next morning, say: “Alexa, alarm clock at 6:30 am”.

Slumber or alarm clock off

The following morning Alexa will get you out of sleep on time at half past six with a pleasant tone sequence. With “Alexa, slumber!” The alarm clock pauses for nine minutes. This will give you enough time to snuggle under the covers. Activate the snooze on the Echo with display by tapping the display. The Echo Dot with clock even has a snooze button on the case.

With “Alexa, stop!” You can switch off the alarm clock after it sounds – either because you want to get up or want to be completely at ease.

Repeating alarm clock

Would you like to get up at 6 a.m. every Monday? Then set up a repeating alarm clock with: “Alexa, a repeating alarm clock for Monday at 6 o’clock”. Repeating alarms can be set for a specific day of the week, every day, every day of the week or the weekend. Say, “Set a repeated alarm for / every day / every weekday / every weekend at . ”

Change or delete the alarm clock

Open the menu item “Reminders and alarm clock” in the Alexa app or in the Alexa web menu. Here you can change the wake-up settings, temporarily deactivate the set alarm clock using the slider and switch it on again.

4.2 Use Alexa as a calculator

Goodbye calculator! Your echo can also solve many of the everyday math problems.

The calculator is usually not available when you need it. Instead of reaching for the cell phone, just let Alexa do the math. Say what the voice assistant should do, for example “Alexa, add 7 and 13.” Alexa can also handle decimal numbers: “Alexa, divide 333.3 by 57.2”. Or say: “Alexa, take the root out of 6831”. Important restriction: Alexa only accepts one math operation per question.

POWER TIP: There is a relevant limitation when calculating: Alexa only accepts one math operation per question. Your echo is thus limited to simple arithmetic tasks. For more complex calculations, install a calculator skill (skill search term “calculator”.)

4.3 Let Alexa translate words

Cumbersome searching for translations online is out – if you need a term in another language, ask Alexa directly.

To use Alexa as an interpreter, say the term you want to look up and the target language. “Alexa, what is dog in Spanish” or “Alexa, what is lover in Chinese”. Translating into a foreign language works quite well, but in the opposite direction Alexa has serious knowledge gaps. “What is Question in German” for example does not provide a usable result.

You can give tutoring to your language assistant through dictionary skills, such as Pons Translate.

4.4 Link Alexa to your calendar

The calendar function turns Alexa into your private secretary – it automatically synchronizes with your online calendars and informs you about upcoming appointments.

How about if you would provide your Echo devices with information about the next upcoming appointments when asked “Alexa, tell me my appointments”? No problem with the link function for different online calendars. To do this, open the Alexa web user interface and click on “Settings” in the left column. In the right section you will find the option “Calendar” in the section “Alexa Settings”. Click on your calendar service – you can choose from Google Calendar, Microsoft Outlook / Office and Apple iCloud – and share the calendar data on the provider’s website with Alexa. From now on Alexa can access the existing appointments by using voice commands like “Alexa, what is my next appointment”. You can also create new appointments by calling, for example, saying “Alexa, new appointment” and then answering the detailed questions from Alexa about the appointment.

4.5 reminders and notifications

Alexa as a universal memory aid: With reminders and notifications, you are guaranteed not to forget an important task.

The lawn has to be mowed, the flowers ordered for mom’s birthday and the newspaper subscription canceled in good time – our everyday lives are full of tasks that can quickly get lost in stress. It’s a good thing that you have the opportunity to remind Alexa of important things if you wish.

Simply say: “Alexa, remember to order flowers tomorrow at 3:00 p.m.”, and the Echo device saves a corresponding reminder. You will then receive a spoken confirmation: “Ok, I will remind you tomorrow at 3 p.m.”. At the time of the reminder, the Echo device with which you have agreed on the reminder answers with a warning tone and the spoken text: “This is a reminder: order flowers”. This is repeated until you say “Alexa, stop”. The Alexa app on your mobile phone notifies you of the task at hand regardless of where you are. With “Mark as completed” you mark the reminder as done.

If you have saved multiple reminders, you can quickly get an overview by asking Alexa: “What are my reminders?”. Then all active entries will be read out in sequence by your Echo device. Use “Alexa, delete all reminders” to empty the reminder memory. If you want to delete entries one by one, say: “Alexa, delete a reminder”. Alexa then reads out all the reminders and finally asks you what date / time you want to delete.

Use the Alexa web menu on your computer or smartphone or the “Reminders and alarm clock” menu item in the Alexa app. Go to “Add Reminder” and next enter the subject at the top, followed by the date and time. Finally, under “Device” or “Announcements from”, you determine which echo should announce the message to you. Practical: With “Repeat” you can have the reminder for recurring tasks recited daily, weekly or on certain days of the week.

POWER TIP: Notifications are messages that are transmitted by certain skills. Under “Settings -› Alexa account – ›Notifications” you determine which skill can send you notifications.

4.6 Keep shopping list with Alexa

Whether bakery, supermarket or flower shop: Alexa helps with your everyday errands with a voice-controlled shopping list.

Tags

Related Articles

Back to top button
Close
Close