6 Amazon Echo tips and tricks

Ask for anything from Domino’s pizza to tomorrow’s weather. The most useful Alexa skills, and some pretty silly ones too, revealed for your Amazon Echo…

29 Jan 2018

Amazon Echo tips and tricks

Step aboard Planet Alexa

Like a rock star or actor, you know something has reached proper icon status when it becomes known by a single name only.

Introducing Alexa – the Amazon Echo voice assistant (though you know that already, right?).

We do everything with Alexa. Hail cabs, order dinner, get news, hit snooze. It’s all to do with her skills.

We wonder how we ever managed without her?

Let’s not dwell on the past. The most useful and coolest things you can do with Echo and Alexa revealed.

Amazon Echo playlist

1. Rock out with your favourite playlists

Like you’d expect from any self-respecting music icon, Alexa is well connected. She plays nicely with all the A-list streaming services, with Spotify and Amazon Music built into your Echo. You can also play iTunes by syncing your phone using Bluetooth.

To save you having to add ‘on iTunes’ or ‘on Spotify’ after every music request, go to ‘Settings’ in the Alexa app and find ‘Music’, then set your default music player to wherever you keep your main music library.


2. Don’t be a loser at work

The working week can be a slog. When all you want to do is impress your boss, it’s littered with potential banana skins. After all, it can be difficult to convince them you’re organised and deserving of promotion when you walk in 45 minutes late clutching a blown-out brolly and wearing a soaking suit.

Get a little help from your friend, Alexa.

  • Add events to your calendar so you don’t miss meetings
  • Get updates on train delays with the National Rail skill
  • Know when it’s going to rain with Met Office updates

To sync your Google Calendar, go to the app ‘Settings’, ‘Calendar Services’ and then ‘Link Google Calendar account’ by signing in and following the instructions.

Flash Briefing

3. Get the headlines with your Flash Briefing preferences

‘Flash Briefing’ sounds like someone feeding information to the President while he’s walking from one meeting to another. It’s not quite the same but Alexa can give you the download on the latest news whenever you want, so you know exactly what’s going on around the world.

It’s set by default to Sky News, but you can change it to your favourite news channel by going to app ‘Settings’ and then ‘Flash Briefing’.


4. Get deep and philosophical, man

Life is full of big questions. To find answers to these big questions usually means big research on your part. What if you could define the meaning of life and other similar philosophical musings with nothing more than your voice?

Kick back on the sofa, close your eyes and let Alexa be your guide. Query the moon phases and ask NASA everything you’ve ever wondered about Mars. Far out, dude.


5. Tell Domino’s to ‘feed me’

Takeaway pizza with Netflix on the sofa. Does life get better? Maybe not – but it certainly gets easier with Echo and Alexa. To get your usual Domino’s Easy Order, simply say ‘Alexa, ask Domino’s to feed me’ and it will.

Don’t fancy pizza? You’ve got the whole takeaway smorgasbord to choose from with Just Eat – from fish and chips to Sri Lankan curries.

Some 27,000 takeaways are plugged into the system. That’s fast food on full power. Simply speak your order and put your feet up.


6. Hit the lights like a smooth operator

Philips Hue Alexa

Want to plan a romantic movie night with your other half? Show them that you really are quite smooth (despite previous efforts) with the help of Alexa. Smart light bulbs hook up to your Wi-Fi so you can control them via your phone.

With an Amazon Echo speaker and Alexa you can do it with your voice. As the opening credits roll, say ‘dim the lights’ and reflect on how downright cool you are. We can be heroes.

You’ll need to add your smart home devices to your Amazon Echo by enabling an Alexa Skill for each one


Don’t forget: Ask some silly questions

Life is serious enough. And Alexa likes a laugh as much as the next person. She’s actually, believe it or not, pretty darn funny. We round off this article with some funny things to ask…

  • ‘Alexa, rap for me’ – a natural born rapper she is not – but that’s the fun
  • ‘Alexa, I have a cunning plan’ – if you love Blackadder, you’ll love this
  • ‘Alexa, who you gonna call’ – you know the answer


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