We have seen new smart speakers make an entry into India recently. The first set of smart speakers to arrive in India was Amazon’s Echo series powered by the company’s own Alexa smart-assistant. There’s a lot more to these speakers than just listening to music and asking mundane questions. Here are five useful things users can do with the Amazon Echo smart speakers. Mind you, it can do a lot more.
Listen to the latest news and books
Apart from playing music, there any many more benefits to be reaped out of its voice capabilities. First is the capability of listening to the latest news. The news that Alexa reads out to you can be either random or carefully curated for you in the Flash Briefing section of the Alexa Skills tab in the app. To hear the news, you just need to tell Alexa with commands like “Alexa, what are my flash briefings for the day”, or “Alexa, tell me the news”. You can set up the order of the news in the Alexa app and make this a part of your morning routine.
When it comes to reading books, most of us start a new title and then slack off in between. Amazon can help you complete these with the Echo speakers, provided there you have a Kindle or Audible account. Users can connect their Echo devices to these accounts, after which they will be able to play the audiobooks on the speakers. One good thing about Alexa is able to do this even with books that do not have an audiobook option.
Connect your Home
The Amazon Echo devices, apart from being speakers, can do a lot of stuff that a personal assistant can do. They can control most of the user’s smart home appliances including lights, vacuum cleaners, plugs, security systems and more. This is not where it ends, you can use Alexa to control your video content on the Fire Stick, DishTV etc. Alexa also lets users group the connected smart devices so that everything can be controlled with one voice command. For example, to turn off all smart appliances in your home before leaving, you can simply tell Alexa to power down the Home.
To connect the whole house, you will require multiple Alexa powered smart speakers. With this done and all of the speakers connected to a single home, users can use the Echo devices like a home intercom. When you do this you can talk to a person in any room or simply broadcast your voice wirelessly to all the rooms in your house. Connecting your home with Alexa will also provide you with the capability of streaming live security camera videos directly to your television through your Fire TV stick.
Shop on Amazon
The Prime members with an Amazon Echo device are allowed to place and cancel orders directly from the device itself. Alexa is trained to remember what a user orders via their Amazon account. This helps a lot when the user tells Alexa to order a specific thing to get what the user generally orders. In India specifically, if a user doesn’t have sufficient balance in his Amazon Pay account, Alexa automatically saves the item in the users cart after which he can open his account elsewhere and complete the purchase. Additionally, as a security measure, Amazon has integrated personalised voice identification which will only let a specific person place the order. For example, I can set it up to recognise only my voice to place orders. This will stop my mischievous siblings from finishing off my Amazon Pay balance behind my back. Also, with the new Echo Spot you can see the products you are buying.
Make phone calls or send SMSes
Just last year Amazon went ahead and enabled Alexa’s capability of making calls and sending text messages to local contacts and people who have signed up for Alexa phone calling. With the entry of the new Echo Spot in India, Amazon has enabled video calling feature as well. Echo speakers are able to check the correct contact, write a text and send it to the intended person. Both these features need to be enabled in the Alexa app first before being used.
Just recently Amazon pushed out an update for the Alexa digital assistant, which enables it to deliver proactive notifications to users. Any skill that a user activates on his/her Alexa powered smart-speaker which has proactive notifications enabled in their source code, will be able to tell the user about the notification through the multi-coloured LED lights or a notification sound on the Echo speakers. To know about the notification, the user has to ask Alexa “What did I miss?” This new feature can save the users from missing out something important.
What else do you use your Amazon Echo speakers for other the above tasks. Do let us know in the comments section below.