Amazon’s Echo Dot is quickly becoming a household staple, and for good reason. It’s the personal assistant, smart home accessory and voice-activated speaker that’s tough to pass up.
If you’ve recently purchased one of these nifty gadgets, or have had one but haven’t maxed out it’s full potential, you may be wondering how to make the most of your purchase.
Bonus: Amazon's Alexa can now remind you to turn off the lights and feed the dog. Is this a great breakthrough or just plain creepy? In this episode of Consumer Tech Update, Kim looks at a new feature of the Amazon Alexa that can learn your behavior and then predict what you're going to do next.
The artificial intelligence function built into the device, Alexa, does so much more than play songs from your phone’s playlist. The Echo Dot can make life simpler. All it takes is a few quick words and viola! Before you know it, you’ve re-ordered you shampoo on Amazon and put together a shopping list for tomorrow’s grocery store trip.
So, you’ve made the leap. You’re the proud owner of an Echo Dot. Now that you’re ready to get all you can of your device, there’s a few things you should know.
1. You can give it a different name
When you want to ask your Echo Dot to do something, the default setting requires you to call it "Alexa." Just say it’s name and it will wake up and start listening to your request.
But what if there’s already a human or pet named Alexa living in the household? Fortunately, there are a few other options. In the settings on the Alexa app, you can change the device’s "wake word" from Alexa to "Amazon," "Echo" or "Computer."
2. It can tell your kids a personalized bedtime story
You may have heard that the Echo Dot can tell kids bedtime stories. With a simple request, Alexa will tell a short, five minute story to help your little ones drift off to sleep.
What you may not know is that the story can be personalized to include their name. Just include it in your request by saying something like "Alexa, tell a bedtime story to Jacob." Alexa will then incorporate the name "Jacob" into whatever story she tells.
3. You can use it to collaborate with your household
For those living in a home where more than one family member has an Amazon account, creating separate profiles for your Echo Dot can allow everyone to enjoy the device with their own preferences. It’s easy to set up in the Alexa app under Alexa Account > Alexa Household Profile.
Using multiple profiles allows for shared content and collaboration on to-do lists, calendars and shopping lists. If you want Alexa to change preferences when you are talking to it versus, say, your teenage child with wildly different taste in music, you can set up voice profiles, allowing Alexa to recognize your voice when you make a request.
4. It can turn your home into a smart home
As smart home products become more mainstream, it’s easier than ever to turn your home into a smart home using your Echo Dot. When you purchase compatible smart home devices, you can use Alexa to turn on and off lights or electronic devices.
Some new smart home appliances allow you to do even more like preheat your oven, check if your laundry is done drying, or ask your refrigerator what to make for dinner.
5. It can help you communicate throughout the house
If you’re lucky enough to own more than one Amazon Echo device, you can turn your home into a full-blown communication hub.
Make a call from one device to the other or send messages to your family member in the other room. You can even ask Alexa to "Make an announcement" and it will share the message across all connected devices. When it’s time for dinner, you can let the entire family know without leaving the kitchen or yelling up the staircase.
The Echo Dot has revolutionized the way we operate in our homes. The device provides entertainment, utility and hands free operation of a growing number of appliances and other devices. No matter how you use your Amazon Echo Dot, there’s sure to be a feature that makes your life easier.