13 incredibly useful tricks you can do with an Amazon Echo
All of the tips and tricks you need for Alexa to make your life easier.
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Alright, so you got yourself an Alexa-enabled device—an Echo, Echo Dot, or Amazon Tap. I'm sure you've already spent plenty of time fooling around and getting to know your new smart assistant, but there's a crazy amount of possibilities you might not have even known about.
Keep reading to discover my list of the strangest, most useful, and all-around best things you can do with Alexa.
1. Place orders from Amazon Prime
First up, you can use your Echo to order items from Amazon Prime. This one's about as easy as it gets. All you have to do is ask Alexa to buy "x". From there, Alexa will look for Prime-eligible items in your order history or anything that's highly rated. She'll tell you the item name and price and even estimated delivery info if it's not the standard two-day shipping. From there, you'll need to confirm or cancel the order. That's it!
If she can't find the item or the purchase can't be completed, Alexa can also add it to your cart or your Alexa shopping list. Likewise, if you change your mind, you can ask Alexa to cancel the order at any point.
2. Get emergency food and booze
Bad news: this one's only available in select cities. Good news: if you live in one of Amazon's sweet spots you can use Prime Now, Amazon's free two-hour delivery service with Alexa by telling her to "order from Prime Now."
Now, you can't order just anything from Amazon. Instead, you're restricted to "daily essentials" like food, cables, headphones, and small household goods. But, if you live in Seattle, Columbus, or Cincinnati you can also order wine, beer, or spirits. No more last minute runs to the liquor store while dinner burns in the oven!
3. Exclusive Amazon Prime deals
We've already seen it happen during Amazon's Prime Day, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday sales, but Amazon has started to offer exclusive deals or promotions through Alexa-enabled devices. There won't be exclusive deals every single day, but when the holidays roll around and you want to get the perfect gift at the perfect price, there's actually fairly good odds you'll need an Echo or Echo Dot to do so.
4. Start your day the right way
The feature you're probably going to use the most is Alexa's basic overview of your day and what's going on in the world. You can ask for a brief news recap, what the weather's like, what's on your schedule for the day and other basic info.
It's become a daily habit for me to wake up (using the alarm clock on the Echo), immediately ask Alexa what the weather is so I can plan my outfit, and then ask her if I have any meetings scheduled. It's such a small change to my morning routine that's helped me stay on top of my job, my personal life, and remember things I might've otherwise forgotten. I can honestly say I've never been surprised by an early-morning meeting since.
5. Order a pizza
Topping my list of great things you can do with Alexa is order yourself a pizza from Domino's. All you have to do is put your Easy Order into the Domino's phone app and then add Domino's to your list of Echo Skils. From there a nice, hot 'za is only as far away as asking Alexa to place your Easy Order (and track it in real time).
6. Have Alexa read you a book
Thanks to another Amazon property, Audible, Alexa can play your favorite audiobooks while you work around the house. Your book will stay synced across your devices so you'll be able to pick up right where you left off when you leave your home and start your commute. There are also a few simple commands that let you play/pause your book, go forward or backward by 30 seconds, or set it to a timer so you can fall asleep listening to the latest bestseller.
7. Call an Uber
It takes a bit of effort to set up the first time, but once you enable the Uber skill and input your info you'll be able to ask Alexa to call a car for you and get updates on how far away it is. Sure, it sounds like a bit of overkill, but it's the perfect recipe to live out your childhood fantasy of having a personalized butler like Alfred.
8. Build and control a smart home
Perhaps the main reason some of you got an Echo in the first place is the ability to control your futuristic smart home. With Alexa's help, you can change the temperature of your home, unlock your doors, turn on/dim/change the color of your smart bulbs, and so much more—all with easy-to-use voice commands.
Now, there's a lot to know when you're upgrading to a smart home. Namely, not every smart device out there is compatible with Alexa. Lucky for you, if you're looking to run everything through the Amazon voice assistant, we've already compiled a list of everything that works with Amazon Echo and Alexa for you.
9. Change the Wake Word
Just in case you don't want to address Alexa by her name, Amazon added additional wake words you can use to get the attention of your Echo or Echo Dot. The list is small, but that just means there's room to grow. If you're a fan of any of the options below, simply open the Alexa app, navigate to settings, then select your "Wake Word" from the device menu.
10. Finally, some help in the kitchen
Whether it's cooking an elaborate meal for myself or putting together a big potluck style meal for my roommates, Alexa has been invaluable in helping me become a better cook. While she can't teach me the correct and proper way to cut an onion (yet), she can do some basic tasks like convert measurements and units, set timers, and even provide recipes in a pinch.
11. Play almost any song that comes to mind
I can't tell you how many times during our weekly board game night someone shouts for Alexa to play Nickelback. What follows is a mad scramble of everyone shouting for her to stop the cruel and unusual punishment. Seriously, Canada: that's strike one.
On the bright side, it's not only Nickelback that Alexa can play. Once you've set Spotify (or some other music service) as your default player, Alexa can search and find almost any song in the catalog. We've definitely spent an entire night playing Seafall to the tune of random sea shanties Alexa found.
12. Easter Egg Hunt!
There are way too many to list every single one, but Amazon put a lot of effort into filling Alexa's responses with fun easter eggs for users to discover and enjoy. I've included my personal favorites below.
- Alexa, my name is Inigo Montoya.
- Alexa, do you want to build a snowman?
- Alexa, who loves orange soda?
- Alexa, tell me a joke
- Alexa, how much does the sun weigh in grams?
- Alexa, where in the world in Carmen sandiego?
- Alexa, I am your father.
- Alexa, what is love?
- Alexa, open the pod bay doors.
- Alexa, up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, Start.
13. Almost anything else you can think of
There are hundreds if not thousands of Alexa Skills up on Amazon for you to look through and discover. While I went through and listed some of my favorites, there's plenty more for you to discover and make your own.