– Alexa, play the song “Ride around, Sally”
– I’m sorry, I can’t find a song called “Runaway salad”.
– Alexa…play a song that goes like this “All I wanna do is ride around, Sally…”
– Here is “Numb” by Linkin Park.
Amazon Echo, a.k.a. Alexa. The other woman in our house. It is a complicated relationship, the one we have. As helpful as she might be, sometimes she gives us even more random answers than I would. She switches on the lights and the TV, adjusts the heating at home…yet claims she has no clue what I’m talking about, when I ask her to do the laundry or clean the kitchen. Cheeky.
Our story begins when one day I came home and I found that our home has turned into a disco bar, owned by Toni Stark – you could give voice commands to a thing and it plays music and turns your lights to different colours (more about the Philips Hue lights – in another post maybe, if you are interested).
It turned out that the otherwise elegant looking device responds to the name “Alexa” and is going to make our life easier. Hmmmm, sceptical.
I am not e very tech-y person, I must say. I do enjoy some new technology, however it takes a while to convince me exactly how useful it is. Alexa, however, lived up to the expectations and turned out to be a great help in our everyday life (note: Amazon has not sponsored me to write this and we bought the Echos ourselves…unfortunately. But, people from Amazon, if you’re reading this, we need one more Echo Dot for the kitchen…just casually mentioning it 😀 ).
The ways to use Alexa in your everyday life are amazing! Apart from the already mentioned functions, you can ask her about the weather, movie ratings, she can tell you jokes and you can also use her to make shopping lists! That is, in case she hears you correctly, because otherwise you end up with things like “frederick cleaner”, “baking train” and “babel close” written down in the app and good luck figuring out what was it that you actually wanted to buy. The Echo does have an option as well to shop directly on Amazon only via voice command, however I find that quite risky – we’ve already ended up with two baskets with plastic fruits and veg for breakfast and we can’t even use Alexa as an excuse as she had nothing to do with the order…but that’s another story!
On the same not, when it comes to setting up and actually figuring out how to avoid messing up the online shopping, there is a handy little book, that I recently discovered (Amazon Echo Guide eBook – which you can get for FREE here for a limited time period, just type in that Chat Box that you want the eBook and the publication department will respond to your messages ASAP and will inform you how you can receive the ebook) and it does give very useful tips and tricks.
But back to what we actually use the Echo for! As I mentioned – switching lights on and off. It is so useful to be able to control them while in bed or in the moments when you’re going out but can’t be bothered to run around the house to look for every light you have left on. You just say “Alexa, switch off the lights” and it’s done. Here has to be mentioned the awkward moment when me and the fiance visit our families, go to bed, lay there and realise with heavy hearts that one of us actually has to get up again to switch off the lights as there is no Alexa to do it for us. #firstworldproblems
Another handy feature is the music, obviously. As I’ve mentioned in the previous post with tips on how to motivate yourself, music plays a huge role in our daily routines, so it is super easy to play whichever song you like with just a voice command. No searching for the remote or the phone, no googling, just “Alexa, play …”. Linking the device to Spotify or Amazon music gives you also access to pretty much any song that you want, when you have paid your subscription.
Another bonus – scaring the sh*t out of your friends who also have Echos by using the function to drop a call or a message via Alexa. You get used to it, but the first couple of times it is a bit creepy, having a random ringing, that you’re not familiar with, sound around your house. Another bonus if you want to make your friend’s existence more miserable, when they visit you, is to remove all lights switches so that only voice control can be used, plus put some smart sockets around your house to control with the Echo too and give them weird names, so that nobody can ever figure out what to say so they can switch on the device they want. One of my friends is completely petrified by Alexa and refuses to speak to her at all, so she just unplugs the smart sockets and ignores them. I have to admit the other week I fell into my own trap and to switch on the hoover I had to tell Alexa to turn on the Christmas lights…long story.
But! If you like innovation, I certainly recommend getting an Echo – so many functions, so many ways to use it, that if I had to describe them all, this would have been a very veeeerry long post. At home we have the Echo Dot and the Echo Plus, both work the same way, just the Plus has more sound power.
Also, you need to have this, if you want to feel like Tony Stark. You can even rename Alexa to Jarvis. I tried. Fiance did not agree.
Let me know if you’re interested to read about more smart home devices that we’ve tried out in our house and I will share my impressions!