Are you a tech or gadget enthusiast? Do you like the idea of robots in the future, voice assistants and AI” chances are that you’ve heard of Amazon’s Echo speaker. It hosts the virtual assistant, known as Alexa, and can do a wealth of useful things. They’ve skyrocketed in terms of popularity, and seem to be more of a staple in the technology world than they ever have been before.
In general, virtual assistants are becoming much more common as people have realized how useful they can be around the house. Having one in the kitchen can be useful for asking for recipe tips or conversations, for example, or having one near your front door can be handy if you want to check if it’s going to rain. In this article, I’ll be having a look at the Amazon Echo in more depth and the reasons why you should consider getting one.
Smart home friendly
One of the best things about the Amazon Echo is that it’s compatible with smart home items. Smart home and automation in general has really evolved in the last few years, so it’s great that the Echo can work with them.
There are tons of different products that you can use with an Amazon Echo- everything from wi-fi hubs and lights, to locks and thermostats. You can even use them with appliances like smart refrigerators. This article from CNET has a lengthy list of products that are all compatible, it’s worth taking a look if you have an Echo.
Having the ability to remotely control elements of your home with Amazon Echo is brilliant. It gives you a lot of freedom, and can also save a lot of time on things that you wouldn’t normally consider, like turning up the thermostat or switching the lights off. Amazon Echo can also be synced up with your TV, although there are other products that you need to buy to be able to make that work.
Informative and educational
Something else that’s great about having an Amazon Echo is that it can be very educational. I mentioned earlier how handy they are to have in the kitchen, as you can ask Alexa for tips on cooking or set timers to make sure that you don’t accidentally burn your dinner. Alexa can also hunt for recipes from different online stores, which is very helpful.
You can also ask your Amazon Echo to update you on the latest news. There’s the option to personalize which news sources you want to hear the news from specifically, and that function is called the Flash Briefing.
Alexa also has fitness-related options, which is good. There’s the ability to find nutrition information, like calories, or you can even get your FitBit smart watch synced up to track your personal statistics. There are other skills that you can install, but I’ll be covering the skills aspect later on in this article.
Great for entertainment
One of the great things that you can do with an Amazon Echo is playing music. It comes from Apple Music by default, but you can use other platforms like Spotify if you prefer. It’s certainly changed how I listen to my music, as it’s great to be able to ask Alexa to play my favorite playlist without having to do anything.
Alexa can also tell jokes and make animal sounds, which is always entertaining. There’s plenty of easter eggs hidden in an Amazon Echo, this is one of the most useful features if you’ve got children as it can keep them entertained for ages. There’s also games and trivia features too.
Perfect personal shopper
Arguably one of the most useful things that an Amazon Echo can do is order things for you from Amazon. This can get expensive quickly if you’re not paying attention though- there was a story last year about somebody’s pet parrot who learned how to order things and decided to treat himself to fruit, vegetables, a kite, and some ice cream.
In all seriousness, this is an incredibly useful feature. It’s great for if you’re cooking and run out of an ingredient, for example, or if you’re too busy to run to the store that week. I would definitely recommend being mindful with this feature though, as not having to press ‘order’ yourself can lead to mindless shopping.
The final thing that I’ll be looking at is the ability to add new skills to your Alexa. As you’ve seen so far, there are plenty of amazing features that come with an Amazon Echo straight out of the box. There are extra skills that you can install though, and there’s an immense amount for you to pick from.
The number of skills available can be overwhelming, but there’s a function called Skill Finder which – unsurprisingly – helps you find new skills to add to your Amazon Echo. There’s also an option to ask Alexa for the skill of the day, which is interesting.
There are skills for calling a taxi, for ordering a takeaway or even a 7-minute workout. You can link your Amazon Echo to plenty of appliances as I saw earlier, and there are a lot of skills that exist to help you do this e.g. skills for setting up mood lights or turning on your heating. If there’s not a skill available for something yet, it’ll probably come along soon- there’s almost always a new article each month that sums up all of the cool skills that you can get your hands on.
To sum this post up, there are plenty of reasons why having an Amazon Echo in your home could be a great investment. It can help you save time on things that you wouldn’t normally consider like turning up the heating and can make housework and cooking much more enjoyable. They’re wonderful for keeping your kids entertained, and can help keep you organized with your shopping and meetings. If you haven’t got one of these intriguing pieces of tech yet, I’d definitely recommend getting your hands on one.