Without any installation woes. In the Flash Briefing section, you can customize publications you’d like Alexa to include in your daily Flash Briefing, a brief overview of the day’s biggest headlines.

You can also see a history of all the voice interactions you’ve had with your Alexa in the History section of the app.

These devices are first and foremost, a speaker. You’d like to say “Alexa, turn off the lights,” or “Alexa, lock the door,” and have it all happen without you having to get up out of your lounge chair. Amazon has several Echo units available.

A number of third-party apps and services work with Alexa, so you can do things like order a Domino’s pizza, or ask for the latest Washington Post headlines.

While Amazon has integrated a ton of useful features into the Alexa experience, you can expand that even further by installing third-party skills. LOS ANGELES — So you’re thinking about setting up a smart home. Buying Amazon products using your voice is also a key part of the Alexa experience.

newspaper archive.

The recipe can also be sent to your phone, if you need to pop to the shop for ingredients.

You can then ask Alexa any number of questions or give it a selection of tasks to complete and it will be done. What I couldn’t do was yank the existing lock out of the door to replace it with August. Christina Bonnington is a tech reporter who specializes in consumer gadgets, apps, and the trends shaping the technology industry. Alexa entered our hearts through the Echo, the blue-tooth enabled speaker that does just about everything you want it to, ... Amazon Echo’s hidden secret features 1. ... Freakonomics, Hidden Brain and many more. Having said that, those who have an Amazon Prime membership will get a lot more out of the system. The Nest Thermostat, which can be controlled from anywhere.

Your California Privacy Rights/Privacy Policy. Figure installation charge of $100 or so for five of the units discussed here (you won’t need help for Canary or the Echo Plus) and that’s how I get to $2,150 — though it could be slightly lower with cheaper options on some, like smart locks. But if you’re looking not just for utility, but for entertainment value, Alexa may beat out Siri since some of her third-party skills include games. Amazon Echo is always switched on and will be always patiently waiting for your commands. You can use Alexa herself for lists, or you can link a third-party app such as, While Amazon has integrated a ton of useful features into the Alexa experience, you can expand that even further by installing third-party skills. If not, you can hire a lower-cost service company like Hello Tech, Best Buy’s Geek Squad or even hire Amazon to send a professional. Alexa has a growing list, and Siri’s funny questions always seem to be evolving.

Here, you can download some of those third-party capabilities we mentioned earlier: adding NPR to your Flash Briefing, downloading ambient rainforest sounds (apparently that’s a customer favorite), or add a game such as Jeopardy! However, you still may not know all that much about her. She only responds when summoned, and you can talk to her using normal sentences. Both devices work with a variety of smart home lights, thermostats, plugs, and more, but Amazon’s Echo definitely works with a greater range of brands and products. The beauty of the age we’re living in is that you can now order just the pieces you want, off the shelf, and install them yourself. (Here, you can also delete recordings, too.). Is Siri smarter?

Home of the Daily and Sunday Express. Both Siri and Alexa have a ton of so-called “Easter eggs”—funny or amusing hidden responses.

The name game. I did what I suspect many people do: I gave up. Explore these features below and try it free for 14 days, then $149* per month. She may know a wee bit more than Alexa, but largely, their question-and-answer base is comparable. However, if, say, someone in your house is already named Alexa, you can change the wake word to something else: Amazon, Echo, or Computer. Nowadays, Amazon’s Alexa products are a common fixture in the tech news cycle.

If you’ve already got some connected home products installed, you can check and see which platform it’s compatible with.

Prime members will get free music, as well as next day delivery on any shopping done through the smart speaker. You can say, "Alexa, ask Kayak where I can go for $400" or "Alexa, ask Kayak how much it costs to fly from Los Angeles to Dublin."

Using Amazon’s smart voice-control system Alexa (named after the ancient library of Alexandria), users can control a wide array of online features simply by talking to the speaker.

Amazon Echo does not need any sort of subscription, with access to Alexa’s useful features available from £89.99 on Amazon.

A smart lock, from companies like August Home and Schlage, for opening the door with your phone or via Alexa.

You can access her simply through the Amazon app. Alexa, Tell my Husband He's Wrong Throw Pillow Cover 16 x 16, Hidden Zipper Linen Decorative Pillow Cushion Case for Bed Living Room Sofa Couch Bedroom Home Decor SheMugs Next page More from Echo & Alexa

On the whole though, in my experience using Siri on an iPhone and on an Apple TV compared to speaking to an Amazon Echo, Alexa typically does a better job of understanding the words coming out of my mouth. Now, just because Alexa understands what I’m saying better doesn’t mean she always has a response to my questions, though.

You can also enter in your home or work address to get traffic updates for your daily commute, and sync with your calendar (Gmail, Outlook, or iCloud) to know what’s up next on the day’s schedule. The Amazon Echo Dot starts at £49.99, offering fewer features for a smaller, more subtle speaker that can play music and answer questions. From there, you can ask Alexa all sorts of questions: You can ask her to play music, ask about the weather, or ask her to convert measurements for you.

Amazon Echo Finally, you’ll want an Echo, Amazon’s connected speaker that controls all of these devices, plus plays music on demand and tells you the latest weather and news. Add another $250 for that, and the total is $1650. You can also link your FireTV or Dish network streamers to your account, and connect with Kindle or Audible for e-books. Amazon calls each of these different capabilities “skills.” One of her newest skills is the ability to work as an intercom system in your home. Dubbed Alexa, Amazon’s AI gained popularity in many households. And if you want to use Alexa to get up to speed on your schedule for the day, you can sync your calendar (Gmail, Outlook, Exchange, or iCloud) to know what’s up next for your day. Alternatively, if you want to play a particular song, you can ask Alexa for the track you want, telling Alexa to change the volume with a simple voice command. Still, we can make some comparisons about the two lines of products, as well as how Alexa and Siri compare as disembodied virtual assistants. Until recently, Siri’s only been available on an iOS device, Mac, or (in limited form) through your Apple TV. For a full list of TV and video-related products that work with Alexa, check here.

You are expected to install them.

You can search and download these under the Skills submenu of the app, which you can access in that upper left-hand side menu button.

"Alexa, play music everywhere" – This relatively new feature lets you play your music across all Echo devices in your home – great for parties.

Take for instance, my experience with the August Smart Lock, which is designed to fit over the frame of your existing door lock and communicate with your phone and/or connected speaker.

While the device is constantly listening, it only starts tracking and analyzing what you say next after it hears “Alexa.” It then pulls up the relevant results.

For example, you can say: “Alexa, what’s the weather in London today?”. – If you've set up your location in the Alexa app, you can use your Echo to find restaurant recommendations in your local area. You can also link your FireTV or Dish network streamers to your account, and connect with Kindle or, You can also use Alexa to make your day a little easier and more organized, for example by adding items to shopping or to-do lists.

You can even control aspects of your home with Amazon Echo, by connecting it to special Amazon lightbulbs or thermostats.

So, you’re at $1,400 now, and you might want to add some outdoor lighting that will weed off prowlers, like the Ring Floodlight Camera, which is motion activated and comes with two-way talk and alarms. If you have a handful of Alexa-capable smart home products, you can now set up commands known as routines. Add around $100 to the Smart Lock purchase to have Geek Squad, Amazon, or an Amazon sub-contractor like Hello Tech install a deadbolt lock, drill holes and cut mortises into the door, install a cylinder, thumb level and faceplate, and install the strike plate in the doorjamb. While Google Home is compatible with a wider array of smart home products than Siri is, it’s still not as many as Alexa can work with. (Alternatively, you can access this menu by first tapping the cog icon in the lower right of the app.) Like Apple’s Siri in the U.S., Alexa has a female voice. Based on the costs of purchasing items, trying to install them and then giving up and then paying someone else for installation, USA TODAY estimates a figure of over $2,000 to get started with smart lighting, doorbell, lock, thermostat and security. "Alexa, roll a dice" – A handy tool for anyone who wants to leave their big decisions to chance. Amazon Echo is the first steps into a truly smart, digital home-space, with voice controls allowing you to manage your home without ever lifting a finger. Now comes the hard part.

Additionally, you can also use the Google Home speaker ($49.99 and $129.99) or the Siri, Alexa or Google Assistant apps on your smartphone to control the … You can tap on any item in this list to hear the recording from that session. You can even tell Alexa to stop playing music in half an hour, so she turns off once you've entered the land of nod. I got as far as unscrewing the two screws from the lock. It released the Echo, a cylindrical smart home speaker imbued with artificial intelligence. However, if you stream music on Apple Music, Soundcloud, or Google Play, you’ll want to go with a Google Home over an Echo. Both Siri and Alexa have a ton of so-called “Easter eggs”—funny or amusing hidden responses. Similar to Apple’s Siri voice assistant, Alexa is controlled by voice command to do things like answer questions from google, set alerts and check the weather, but Amazon Echo can do several other things that set it apart. Audio quality may be in the ear of the beholder. All you need to do is simply say a single trigger word from “Alexa, “Echo”, Amazon”, or “Computer”. You can use Alexa in Amazon’s Echo products.

You can use Alexa herself for lists, or you can link a third-party app such as Any.do, AnyList, or Todoist.

Unfortunately, if you want one now you’ll have to wait—it’s not shipping until December. So if you want your smart speaker to be more of an actual assistant—performing tasks for you, ordering things on Amazon for you—Alexa is what you want.

The products all fall under the DIY category.

In the Settings section of this menu, you can also manage Amazon Shopping notifications. These now include the original Amazon Echo, the smaller Echo Dot, the Amazon Tap, the Echo Look, and the newest addition to the lineup, the Echo Show. Here is a list of some cool things to ask Alexa. Both AI’s gave me the current weather report, Alexa said she didn’t have information for the Sharks query, and Alexa also didn’t have a response for the movie question. Cancel at anytime.

Routines let Alexa perform multiple actions with a single voice command.

She is based in the San Francisco Bay Area and has a background in electrical engineering.

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