There is no doubt that our lives are becoming more connected by the day. First computers, then phones, then watches, even coffee machines can be connected to the internet. And now, we’ve got devices that can control nearly everything in your home. All it takes is a simple command.
For the last several months, Amazon has been upgrading the software for all of their Echo systems, and the results are an in-home assistant that makes everything about life so simple. Well, maybe not everything.
But what was once used solely for telling time, asking the weather, and the occasional robot joke has now become one of the most useful pieces equipment in your home. It’s the hum through which you can control everything in the house. It’s the way you get your shopping done; it’s the way you stream music. It’s simply amazing.
Before we get into my favorite ways to use Alexa, let’s talk about the requirements. You don’t technically need the internet to use it, but you will need it for the initial set-up. And the only way you can use Alexa without internet connection is for a Bluetooth speaker.
Regarding the connection requirements, it’s recommended that you have at least 25 Mb download speed. Upload and Ping rates don’t matter so much since you won’t be uploading anything to the device.
The reason it’s recommended to have at least 25Mb down is that it uses WiFi – explicitly. To have a stable wifi connection you’ll need decent speeds. If you aren’t sure how fast your internet is you can use a speed check site. Sites like these tell you the download and upload speeds, as well as the latency.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, here are some of my favorite ways to use Alexa.
Use Alexa to Order Products
How many times have you been sitting in the house thinking, “man, I really need to purchase (fill in the blank)?” I don’t know about you, but this happens to me frequently.
But if you are an Amazon Prime member, all you have to do is ask Alexa to order the product you want, and she’ll take care of the rest for you. Two days later, it shows up at your door.
You’ll probably want to put a voice code on there, so you don’t accidentally buy anything.
Alexa Can Control Smart Devices
Earlier we touched on everything in our homes being connected to the internet. Well with Alexa, you can control every smart product in your home. For instance, if you want to set your home security system simply ask her to do so.
You can even have her start your coffee maker for you. And my favorite, turning the lights on, changing the brightness and even changing the color. It’s a great way to set the mood. You can even connect a group of lights, and have her turn on all the living room lights, for example. Basically, you can set it up to do whatever you want it to do.
Did You Know Alexa Can Update Shopping Lists?
I know we all do this. You realize that you’re running out of ranch dressing, or some other condiment that you use a lot. So you make a mental note to get dressing next time you go to the store. Of course, when you get to the store, you forgot all about the dressing and now your at home eating a dry salad. Because let’s face it, you’re not going back out just for some dressing.
Well, never again! Just tell Alexa to update your shopping list, then ask her for ranch dressing. She will automatically forward that to your grocery app and put it on the list for you. Just think it, and say it, and you’ll never have to forget an item again.
Alexa Can Do Simultaneous Timers
This isn’t something that everybody can use, but it’s something that I use all the time when cooking. Everybody knows you can set a timer with your Echo device, but did you know that you can set as many as you need at once.
Gone are the days of having to keep data logs of your food and perform calculus to figure out how much time is left on that turkey after you’ve cooked everything else. Now you can set as many timers as you need to, at one time. I’ve got a thousand dollar iPhone that can’t even do that.
I adore this feature.
Stream Music with Alexa
Alexa can stream music for you too; you can even stream on multiple devices at once so you can listen in multiple areas. The best part, if you’re a prime member, you get access to their music selection. If not, that’s cool too. It works with Pandora and Spotify as well.
Alexa Drop-In Feature
By far, my favorite function is the ‘drop-in’ feature. What it does is connect with any other Echo that you want, as many as you want. That’s in the house and even outside of the house. Simply tell Alexa to drop in on the desired device, and you’re immediately talking to the person in that room.
It’s the 2019 version of an intercom system, and it’s freaking awesome.
About the Author
Emily Jacobs is Happiness Ambassador for SpeedCheck.org
She loves to write latest technology trends and love to share her knowledge through her articles.