There are really only two reasons to buy an Alexa enabled device:
- The cool-factor
- To do useful things
The cool-factor comes from being an early adopter of a technology that is clearly from the future. Using Alexa enabled devices will make sure you are exposed to cutting edge concepts of cloud computing, artificial intelligence, voice recognition, home security and home automation. This is clearly cool and the cool factor alone is plenty of justification for diving into the Echo/Alexa world.
But these devices are far more than just cool. You can use them to automate your world in ways that are helpful and improve your life.
Here are some of the more useful things you can do with Alexa enabled devices:
- Use Alexa to help you play music through Echo speakers. Music can be from Amazon or compatible music services like Spotify. Just ask for your playlist or search for your favorite artists or let Alexa pick for you.
- Control timers, alarms and alerts using your voice.
- Add to and manage shopping lists and to-do lists so you are always able to capture any thought and need for future action.
- Control your smart home. what it can do here depends on how you have configured your house, but many people use it to turn lights on and off, change the thermostat, check security cameras, turn TVs on and off, and even tell the roomba what to do.
- Get news tailored for you from sources you want
- Get information delivered from almost any Internet connected source, including your Google Calendar, for example. Others use it for learning new recipes or listening to audio books.
- Have the weather always at your fingertips
- Take advantage of tailored capabilities called “Skills”. These are applications designed to do specific tasks. There are 1,000s of these now, which include things like requesting a ride from Uber, getting data from your fitbit, controlling your TV, ordering Pizza or Flowers or anything from Amazon. More of these are being added every day.
The power of these devices comes from the voice recognition capabilities they come with. Just ask and Alexa responds. But you don’t always have to use your voice. You can leverage all the above with an app that runs on your smartphone or tablet.
Alexa is cloud based so it is always getting smarter. The more you talk to Alexa the smarter it gets. It adapts to your speech patterns, vocabulary and personal preferences.
Deciding how to start with Alexia may be the hardest part. There are now several options.
The Echo Dot is a very low cost option, but does not have the large speakers you will want for quality music playback. The Echo costs just a bit more and delivers on sound quality. The Echo Plus gives simple options to directly control IoT devices as a smart home hub. The Echo Spot comes with a very small video screen and tiny speaker. The Echo Show comes with a 7″ screen and stereo speakers.