When the Amazon Echo debuted, it could only play music, tell you the weather, set alarms and timers, read news flashes, tell corny jokes, add things to your Amazon shopping list, tell you the weather and recite basic trivia. Cool tricks, all, but nothing spectacular.
The Echo’s Alexa voice assistant was a cool look at how voice commands could control the home.
SEE ALSO: Amazon’s Alexa can lock your front door if you own this smart lock
Today, the Echo is now a family of three. Including the Echo, there’s also the Echo Dot and Tap.
With the power of Alexa, an open API and a willingness by third-party companies to get their smart devices to work with the Echo products, Amazon’s magical tube devices have become more feature-packed than when it launched.
There’s so much it can do with Alexa and new features are being added every week. We’ve compiled our favorite things the Echo can do that you may not have known about.
1. Smart home control
A home filled with Philips Hue smart light bulbs.
A home filled with Philips Hue smart light bulbs.
One of the most useful additions to the Echo after it launched was the addition of smart home control. Initially limited to a few devices like Philip’s Hue smart light bulbs, the the Echo now works with many different smart home brands and devices. SmartThings, Wink, Insteon and Nest are just some of the major ones. You can find the full range of smart lights, outlets, thermostats and more that work with the Alexa here.
Setting up a smart home isn’t cheap, but it’s so worth it when you can say “Alexa, turn on the lights in the bedroom” or “Alexa, decrease the thermostat by two degrees.”
2. Manage your Google Calendar
Everyone uses Google Calendar (no other calendars matter). All jokes aside, as a personal assistant, Alexa’s more of a secretary than before now that she can add events and review calendar events.
To activate the feature, launch the Alexa app and go to Settings > Calendar, select Google Calendar and then select “Link Google Calendar account.” Log into your Google account and you’re set to use these commands:
“Alexa, when is my next event?”
“Alexa, what’s on my calendar?”
“Alexa, what’s on my calendar tomorrow at [time]?”
“Alexa, what’s on my calendar on [day]?”
“Alexa, add an event to my calendar.”
“Alexa, add [event] to my calendar for [day] at [time].”
3. Track your packages
Waiting for packages sucks. One day we’ll have our ordered packages delivered within minutes by drone, but until that day comes, we’re stuck waiting for it arrive by truck.
A recent update to the Echo added the ability to track packages ordered from Amazon and see where they are in the delivery route.
Just say “Alexa, where’s my stuff?”
4. Call an Uber
Uber made it easy to use an app to call up a car, and now with Alexa, it’s even easier. To set up Uber on the Echo, go into the Alexa app and search for the Uber skill within the “Skills” section. Enable the feature and then log into your Uber account. From there, set the address for your Echo (most likely your home or office) in the “Device Location” section. Once it’s all configured, just ask Alexa for a car:
“Alexa, ask Uber for a ride.”
“Alexa, ask Uber to get me a car.”
“Alexa, ask Uber to request an UberX.” (or UberBlack, UberSUV, UberXL, Uberselect)
“Alexa, ask Uber where’s my ride?”
5. Order Pizza from Domino’s
If there was any doubt that the Echo is a magical tube from tube from the future, let this dispel all doubt.
Ordering pizza from Domino’s is as effortless as saying: “Alexa, open Domino’s and place my Easy Order.”
To get pizza-on-demand set up, log into your Amazon Alexa account by visiting the website or opening the Alexa app. Then click “Skills” and search for the Domino’s skill and enable it. Next, go to Dominos.com and create an account (or sign if you already have one). Set up an “Easy Order” with your preferred pizza and make sure to include all of the related information (billing, delivery address, etc.).
6. Get sports scores
Sports fans will love Alexa’s ability to keep up with all kinds of league-based competitive recreations. Alexa can pull up scores for finished and in-progress games and even upcoming matchups in several leagues, including the English Premier League, MLB, MLS, NBA, NCAA men’s basketball, NCAA FBS football, NFL, NHL and WNBA. Here are a few sports-related questions you can ask Alexa:
“Alexa, what is the score of the New York Knicks game?”
“Alexa, who is winning the Yankees game?”
“Alexa, when do the New York giants play next?”
7. Check stocks
Want to keep tabs on securities? No problem! Enable the Fidelity Investments skill within the “Skills” section of the Alexa app and you’ll be able to get quotes for stock market updates.
“Alexa, ask Fidelity to get a quote for Google.”
“Alexa, ask Fidelity for a market update.”
“Alexa, ask Fidelity how Apple is doing today.”
8. Do a quick workout
Fitness is important, but not everyone has time to hit up a gym and crush it like a boss. Enabling the “7-Minute Workout” skill within the Alexa app lets you start a rapid-fire workout that’ll only take you seven minutes to complete. It’s perfect for mornings or right before bed.
Once the skill is enabled, you can start a workout by saying “Alexa, start a seven minute workout.” Alexa will then get your blood flowing with short bursts of jumping jacks, wall sits, pushups, squats, step ups onto a chair and more.
You can also find images and tutorials in the Alexa app if you don’t know how to do a certain exercise.
9. Talk politics
This year has certainly been a very interesting election year, and Alexa up to date on it all. Enable the NBC News skill within the Alexa app and you can ask her election-related questions like:
“Alexa, ask NBC News how Donald Trump is doing.”
“Alexa, ask NBC News for New York primary results.”
“Alexa, ask NBC News when the next debate is.”
The NBC News skill also gives Alexa intel on top headlines on the election, candidate bios and an election calendar.
10. Read Kindle ebooks or Audible audiobooks
Audio books are great for when your hands aren’t free (like when you’re cooking). With a simple “Alexa, read me a Kindle book” or “Alexa, read me an audiobook” (Audible audiobooks), the Echo will start reading out a book for you.
There’s no need to do anything special. You just need to have ebooks in your Kindle library or audiobooks in your Audible library.
11. Recite Pi
“Alexa, annoy us all to death.” Just kidding. Not only is Alexa great at calculations, but she’s nerdy, like really nerdy. Try asking her to recite the first 100 digits of Pi and she’ll go on and on…
Sadly, Alexa won’t go higher than 100 digits of Pi. Nice try, but she’s not gonna recite up to 1,000 or a million.