Amazon’s Echo voice speaker is in more and more homes. But there are a few things you should know before you get started with your new roommate Alexa. Alexa and her home, Amazon’s Echo voice speaker, are now in countless homes. But as intuitive as using it by voice is, there are a few things you should know before you get started.
Without the right Alexa app, Amazon Echo won’t work at all. With the app, which is available for Android and iOS, you not only set up Echo. There, you can also completely customize Echo to your own taste. You can find the settings by tapping on the three dashes in the top left corner of the Alexa app and then selecting “Settings”.
In the settings, you can also personalize the Echo. For example, by teaching it your location. In addition, you can enter your work route to ask about the traffic situation in the morning. And you can individualize your daily summary and add sports news or celebrity gossip. This way, Alexa has exactly the info you really want at hand.
How suitable is Alexa for children?
Amazon places a lot of emphasis on Alexa getting along well with the little ones. She always remains polite, and the jokes are always suitable for children’s ears. However, there is no explicit parental control. If the little ones wish for gangster rap or ask for the answer to math homework, Alexa fulfills the wish without hesitation. This should always be kept in mind. The biggest danger: if you’re not careful, your kids will accidentally buy random things from Amazon.
How to prevent accidental purchases
Out of the box, Alexa can easily order products over the web. To prevent accidental – or surreptitious – shopping sprees, select “voice purchase” in the settings. Now you can either turn off Alexa purchases altogether or set a PIN code that blocks them. Since you have to say it out loud in front of Alexa, it doesn’t stay secret from the kids for long. At least, however, you no longer make purchases by mistake.
Alexa without Prime
Voice purchases are only available for active Prime customers. However, the Echo also works well without Amazon’s Prime subscription, but then it has a few less functions, such as music playback via Amazon Music. Instead, you can use Spotify or Apple Music or listen to the radio via Tune-In. In the settings under “Music”, a service other than Amazon Music can be selected as the default.
Using Spotify correctly
Unfortunately, not every Spotify user is also allowed to listen to music via the Echo: A paid premium subscription to the streaming service is required. When listening to music via Spotify, it is also not enough to tell Alexa a title and artist – the addition “…on Spotify” must also always be appended
In order for Alexa to be able to follow you, you should pronounce commands plainly and clearly, even if Alexa can handle dialects. As the assistant gets to know its owner better, you can start mumbling at some point. If you express yourself in too complicated a way, the smart computer will be overwhelmed, even with the best High German.
If Alexa doesn’t understand anything or starts up by mistake, you can silence her immediately with the simple exclamation “Alexa Stop” and reset the command. After that, you can start again from the beginning.
Even though the Echo is always listening, it’s really just waiting for its code word. If you want to protect your privacy from accidental eavesdropping for a certain time, you can switch off the microphone completely with the mute button. The device then signals that it is no longer listening with a red glow. Only when you press the button again, Echo listens to the word again.
By the way, you can change which code word Alexa responds to. This is very practical if there is an Alexa or an Alex in the household. The option can be found in the settings under the name of the respective Echo. However, you should not be very creative. Apart from Alexa, only “Amazon”, “Echo” and – following the example of “Star Trek” – “Computer” are available.
Skills are to Alexa what apps are to smartphones. They considerably expand the range of functions. For example, Alexa can call a cab via “Free Now” or have one of the news presenters read out the news via “Tagesschau. New skills can be found in the app. To specifically start a skill, however, you have to explicitly ask Alexa to do so, such as “Alexa, ask Chef for a recipe for apple pie.” If you do not do that, Alexa tries to find the right one on its own.