If you’re struggling to come up with new tricks for your Echo smart speaker, Amazon has some great news. The Seattle-based company is constantly tinkering with its chatty AI assistant Alexa, adding new features and fun references over time. Amazon is highlighting these new additions in regular updates for customers, and the latest email includes some real corkers.
As always, these voice commands work with all Alexa-enabled devices. These include the Amazon Echo Smart Speaker as well as the Echo Show, which adds a touchscreen for additional information from Alexa, Amazon Fire TV streaming set-top boxes, the Echo Buds – wireless earbuds with hands-free access to Alexa everywhere and some Fitbits Smartwatches and a number of other popular devices and televisions. You have to start every voice command with the wake-up word “Alexa”. This acts as a power button for the device, telling it to write down what you are about to say so it can take action for you.
If you’re looking for a slightly sunnier message to lift your spirits, Alexa is for you. Asking the AI assistant, “Alexa, give me some good news,” it should help speed your step.
Alexa also always had a fairly large selection of gags in her luggage. However, with Amazon, you can now be a little more specific about what the subject of the joke should be. For example, you can now ask, “Alexa, tell me a lightbulb joke” or “Alexa, tell me a shark joke”.
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If you want to pair your smartphone with your Amazon Echo in order to use it like a Bluetooth speaker, you can ask the intelligent assistant: “Alexa, connect to Bluetooth”. You’ll need to dive into the Settings menu on your iPhone or Android handset, find your Echo in the Bluetooth devices available to pair, then tap to connect. And you’re gone!
Just like using a UE Boom or Beats Pill, you can then broadcast any audio from your smartphone – whether you’re listening to a live radio broadcast, podcast, album, etc. – through the built-in speaker in the Echo. Amazon has done a lot of work to improve the audio performance of its smart speakers over time. And if you have an Echo Studio, you can get a huge boost in volume and quality.
Once you’ve paired with an Echo device, all you need to do is provide the device name the next time you connect to your smartphone. So you can say, “Alexa, connect with [device name]”or” Connect to my phone “.
And if you have an echo in the kitchen, you can ask Alexa to help cook. “Alexa, give me a pasta recipe” only loads audio instructions that your smart speaker can say step by step. And if you need to set a timer, Alexa can handle it. If you need more than one recipe – for example, if it’s a particularly complicated recipe from the past – it can be helpful to give the timer a name when you request it for the first time. “Alexa, set a 40-minute garlic bread timer,” for example.
Finally, if you have an Alexa-enabled device with a touchscreen like the Echo Show 8, you can ask Alexa to conjure up some of your favorite social media photos. When you ask the speakerphone to “view my Facebook photos” it will load some selected recordings from your Facebook profile. And if there’s a snapshot you really like, now is the time to personalize your wallpaper on the Echo Show with photos from friends and family from Facebook. Of course, for this to work you need to have the Alexa app on your smartphone Menu> Settings> Photos and then log into your Facebook account.
Other helpful new tricks highlighted by Amazon include:
- “Alexa, what new features do you have?”
- “Alexa, what’s on my to-do list?”
- “Alexa, track my order”
- “Alexa, sing me a song”
- “Alexa, what day is it today?”
- “Alexa, when does the sun set in London?”
- “Alexa, play music for 1 hour”
- “Alexa, what’s free from Audible?”