Ever since the industrial age, humanity has dreamed of making life easier with a mechanical personal assistant. From Asimov’s “iRobot” to “Lost in Space,” we’ve been inspired to reach further and innovate harder. And who would blame us? I mean, who wouldn’t want a robot to shout “Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!” whenver a strange man came to the door while it swept the front foyer for us? And then came along Amazon Echo.
Sure, Apple beat them all to the punch with Siri, and then Google joined in, but Amazon Echo, the housing unit for the living room assistant Alexa, wowed the world with its always-on capabilities. Even to the point of creating a few NSA conspiracy theories.
But whether you’re sitting in your living room wearing your tin-foil hat while asking Alexa to play some X-Files episodes on your Amazon Fire or not, you’re probably wanting to know all the amazing things Alexa can do for you.
So, here we are to bring you 5 New Life Hacks to help you make the most of your Amazon Echo.
1. 5 Amazon Echo Hacks: Tune Up Alexa’s Ears
Google is notorious for its “ears” going out of sync. Just the other day I had to re-train my Android phone to recognize my voice. It’s an obnoxious thing to have to do when you just wanted to text your secret lover on the fly.
But Alexa, although always on and listening, still needs her ears cleaning out every once in a while and she wants to become familiar with you voice, anyways.
So, go ahead, open the Alexa App, Go to Menu, hit Settings then tap on Voice Training. Make sure you do this when you have a little bit of time because she will ask you to say something 25 times.
It might be a bit more time consuming than Google’s voice training, but you will be grateful when you never have to do it again.
2. 5 Amazon Echo Hacks: Force Alexa to Update Amazon Echo
Forcing Alexa to do something isn’t like forcing a real person to do something…I hope. I really hope she doesn’t have feelings (then we might all be screwed).
But sometimes an update will come out for a device and you want it right away. Perhaps some glitch or bug showed up and the new update will fix or smash it.
With Google or Apple, updating a device or app is simple, go to the appropriate store and hit the update button.
And, although Alexa updates Echo every night, it’s less obvious how to update Echo in the middle of the day.
This one is actually a fairly simple hack; just hold down the mute button for thirty seconds or more and just like magic Alexa will update your Echo.
3. 5 Amazon Echo Hacks: Change Alexa’s Name or Make Her Go Deaf
Uh, oh. Your newest girl is named Alexa, and it really kills the mood when Alexa (the one inside your Echo) says, “I don’t understand” to your bedroom commands.
“How then are we to live?” You ask. “I don’t want to dump either Alexas.”
But remember, only one of your Alexas has a legal name, and we aren’t here to recommend you go down to the courthouse to change it.
Instead, change the name of your home assistant.
Sadly, Amazon has only programmed the Echo to recognize three “Wake Words”: “Amazon,” “Echo,” (Hopefully you don’t live in a cave.) and “Alexa.”
Alright, time to change the “wake word”. Go to Settings in your Alexa App. Choose your device. Scroll down until you see the setting for Wake Word. Tap. Then select a “wake word” from the drop down menu.
Now you can make love to Alexa in peace.
But then, how do you make Alexa go deaf?
No, I’m not talking about your girlfriend.
Oh, and talking about your girlfriend, she wasn’t too happy when she found out you changed your house assistant’s name to Echo, was she? She thought it was sweet you had named an inanimate object after her and wants you to change it back or she’s leaving.
Now, what do you do?
Simple, press the mute button. Yep, that’s right, she has a mute button, unlike most human beings.
4. 5 Amazon Echo Hacks: Teach Alexa New Tricks
Ok, we’re going to forget about your girlfriend for a bit and focus on your room assistant.
You really can teach Alexa new tricks through a website called IFTTT which stands for “If This Then That”.
It’s a programming recipe site that can help you program your Echo to do many different things.
For example, if you have the Nest thermostat system, you can program your Echo to change the temperature at your command.
Or, if you’re constantly losing your phone, program Alexa to find it for you. Unfortunately, she doesn’t fetch.
5. 5 Amazon Echo Hacks: Ask Alexa to Make Pi
Ok, she can’t actually bake a pie for you, but she could probably give you pie recipe.
But if you’re a complete nerd like me, you’ll be absolutely pleased to know that on March 14 you can bring all your math friends over and ask Alexa to recite pi.
Now, she can only recite up to 100 digits (I mean, seriously? Only 100 digits?! She’s a computer! And it’s been calculated up to 12.1 trillion digits! I’m sure she can do better.), but it’s still an impressive party trick…a math party trick, that is. And it’s probably better than your girlfriend can do anyway…unless, if she can, can I have her number?
Conclusion: Alexa Does Some Cool Stuff
Yes, she does! And there is probably more she can do that we didn’t have space to cover here.
The world of technology is advancing rapidly, and if you are amazed by today’s home assistants and mobile assistants, think of what we might see in twnety, thirty, even one hundred years from now.
Think about it. One hundred years ago people were dreaming up crude approximations of what we now see as commonplace.
Do you have an Amazon Echo? What do you think of Alexa?
Sound off in the comments below and tell us what you think or let us know if you have ideas for our next Life Hacks List.