10 things you should do now that you've welcomed Alexa into your life

Posted on Dec 24 2016 - 3:09pm by Huzoor Bux


So you just got an Amazon Echo or an Echo Dot — fantastic, because they’re sold out almost everywhere! 

Welcome to the future, where ordering a pizza or controlling your lights is just a voice command away.

What’s an excited futuristic, cutting-edge person like yourself supposed to do first with your new vocal powers? Here’s where to start.

1. Connect your music

Image: OLE SPATA/PICTURE-ALLIANCE/DPA/AP IMAGES

Since the Echo is a speaker, the very first thing you’ll want to do is connect your music to it. The Echo supports five major music streaming services: Amazon Music, Spotify (premium account required), Pandora, iHeartRadio and TuneIn.

Your Amazon Music library will be automatically connected because it uses your Amazon account. To connect the other services, you’ll need to open the Alexa app (iOS, Android or FireOS) and go to the “Music & Books” section and then select your service and enter your account details.

Then you can boogie like it’s the year 2049 by saying “Alexa, play Justin Bieber.”

2. Get caught up on the news

There are a million ways to catch the news (TV, Twitter, Facebook, newspapers, etc.), but you don’t have a million hours to look through all of them. Why not listen to the news while you’re preparing a meal or doing some other chore — kill two birds with one stone, so your friends don’t think you’re just another uninformed millennial.

Since its launch, the number of news sources you can get “flash briefings” from via Alexa has ballooned to include Bloomberg, Wall Street Journal, AP, Slate, The Daily Show and many more.

Add the supported news sources you want and then say “Alexa, what’s in the news?” or “Alexa, what’s my flash briefing?” and she’ll read you short news summaries.

3. Hook up your smart home

One of the best (and coolest) things to do with Alexa is give it control of your smart home devices. And chances are if you’ve got an Echo, you’ll want to connect it to smart lights, smart thermostats and smart switches.

Alexa now integrates with Philips Hue, Samsung SmartThings, WeMo, Nest, Ecobee, Insteon and TP-Link smart home gadgets.

If you’re feeling adventurous and willing to really go bonkers with the voice-controlled home automation, you can pick up a Logitech Harmony Hub (or if you already own one) and connect your Xbox, Roku, TV and other home entertainment devices to Alexa. It’s a little more work — if you’re not too tech-savvy, you might not want to attempt it — but you’ll feel like you’re living in Tony Stark’s pad when it’s all said and done.

4. Connect your Fitbit

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If you’ve got a Fitbit, you can get Alexa to keep track of your fitness goals and progress using the Fitbit skill. Alexa can tell you all kinds of fitness data from your Fitbit, including steps taken, distance covered, flights climbed, calories burned, etc.

Fitbit has a full list of all the voice commands you can use with Alexa. Here are a few examples:

  • “Alexa, ask Fitbit how I’m doing today.”

  • “Alexa, ask Fitbit how I slept last night.”

  • “Alexa, ask Fitbit how many steps I’ve taken.”

5. Order pizza

You now have more pizza options. In addition to Domino’s, you can now order a pizza from Pizza Hut. Install either skill and link your respective Domino’s or Pizza Hut account.

To order a pie from Pizza Hut, say “Alexa, open Pizza Hut” and then “Alexa, ask Pizza Hut to place an order.” For Domino’s, say “Alexa, open Domino’s and place my Easy Order.” 

And just like that, pizza will be on its way. Don’t forget to tip your delivery guy!

6. Add your Uber or Lyft account

The beauty to Alexa is that it’s your assistant. You want to make it do as much stuff for you as possible, so you can use your phone to do way more important stuff like play swipe strangers on Tinder.

Activate the Uber or Lyft skills and you’ll never have to look at your phone to request a car ever again. “Alexa, ask Lyft for a ride.”

7. Keep tabs on your spending

Capital One customers can enable an Alexa skill to get real-time info on their banking information. Here are a few voice command examples you can use with “Alexa, ask Capital One …”

  • “How much did I spend at Starbucks last weekend?”

  • “What’s my current credit card balance?”

  • “When is my credit card bill due?

  • “What’s my checking account balance?”

  • “What are my recent transactions?”

  • “What’s the principal balance on my mortgage?”

8. Set up one-click shopping on Amazon

Some people might consider Alexa a trojan horse to get you to buy more things from Amazon, but we consider voice-enabled shopping a modern convenience.

Shopping for items on Amazon with Alexa is super easy once you’ve got Amazon Prime’s one-click shopping set up. You’ll be able to pick from thousands of items. You can’t see the product details before buying, but if you’ve already purchased something before or don’t care about the price being higher than somewhere else, it’s all good.

9. Play Jeopardy!

Are you the next Ken Jennings? Test your trivia knowledge in a wide range of categories, including pop culture, sports, travel and world history, etc., with the official Jeopardy! J6 skill.

Once enabled, starting a game is as easy as saying “Alexa, play Jeopardy.” It’s the perfect game with friends or family. Who doesn’t like making their family members feel stupid?

10. Give Alexa a friend

Everyone needs a friend — even digital assistants. If you’ve also got a Google Home, you can use this fun little trick by YouTuber Adam Jakowenko and rig Alexa and the Google Assistant into an infinite loop, where the two keep asking each other what’s on their calendar. Aww, it’s like they’re talking to each other.

This trick is best done at a friend or family’s house. They’ll freak out thinking their digital assistants are gonna go rogue. Do it for the lulz!



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