Did you get Alexa for Christmas? Are you wondering what I’m even talking about? The Echo Dot, powered by Alexa, was the best-selling Amazon item during the 2018 holiday season. Priced under $50, it’s a fun gadget anyone can afford.
Please note: I use affiliate links in this post. Should you make a purchase with one of the links, I receive a small commission at no cost to you.
My oldest son received an Alexa Echo Dot (affiliate link) for Christmas last year. I should have played around with it then. He’s pretty tech savvy, so I thought he’d discovered all of Alexa’s wonderfulness and that it was just another ho-hum, money-wasting gadget. I knew he could verbablly request songs on it and ask for weather information and the local time, but that was about it. So our little Alexa just stayed in the basement, on our son’s turf.
Then just before Christmas this year, I was playing around on Pinterest, and a few sponsored posts about Alexa popped up. They showed all sorts of wonderful bits of information I could glean from this round piece of black plastic, not to mention some pretty useful ways to manage my home and further personal goals. So I began to experiment with Alexa. Keep in mind, I had pneumonia for a month and was completely homebound for a month with a five-year-old. Alexa became a form of entertainment and great information on the days when we were really fighting boredom. And now that my teen knows more options for Alexa, he joins in the fun too.
Here’s supposedly a complete list of everything you can do with Alexa.
Here are a few of my family’s favorite things to do with Alexa:
For all commands, start off by saying her name. Otherwise, she won’t realize you’re talking to her.
Just for Fun:
Tell me a joke. Alexa has some good ones. She even seemed to tailor them according to age. My son got pirate jokes, while I got a joke about a guy in a pet store. Joke: A guy walks into a pet store and says to the clerk that he needs a dog. The clerk asks, “What kind of demeanor?” The guy says, “I’m looking for a guard dog; De-meaner, de-better.” 🙂
Play songs. During the holidays, I frequently asked Alexa to play song favorites. She knew them all. Jingle Bells. We Wish You a Merry Christmas. Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer, and more. When I didn’t have specifics to request, she accessed a holiday song list and played it for me several times. Post holidays, I often ask her to play random songs from specific artists–Elvis, Kelly Clarkson, anyone I can think of.
Let’s visit. She’s so polite. My five-year-old loves talking to her. It’s so funny. She has trouble understanding him sometimes, but she makes polite assumptions. I love it when she asks if he wants to talk about politics.
Play a game. We had fun playing several trivia games with her. Sometimes we couldn’t guess, so we asked for clues.
Report on daily news and the weather. Want the highlights? Alexa’s got them. You can ask for more details, or just get the briefings. She’ll also tell you what the local forecast is for the day, tomorrow, and probably a bit beyond.
List local movies at theaters. She knows what’s in the local theaters. So helpful!
Learn something new. Ask Alexa to play the latest TED talk or find a podcast on a particular topic. If she’s not sure what you want, she’ll ask questions to clarify.
In the Kitchen
How long to cook things: I am never sure how long to cook certain meats, veggies, and sometimes pasta. Alexa knows.
Set a timer. Even though we have timers on our stove and microwave, my sons insist that we now use Alexa. She sits prominently on our kitchen counter, ready to assist at all times.
Convert measurements: Not sure how many tablespoons are in a quarter cup? Ask Alexa. You can google the information, of course, but when you’re actually cooking and your hands are messy, it’s so much easier to just ask.
Find a recipe: Tell her what you’re looking for. She’ll make a recommendation, then you can ask for more information if you’d like. She’ll tell you the ingredients of a high-ranking recipe for the category you asked for. Then, if you like, she’ll send it to your phone. You can receive the recipe if your app is enabled.
Health and Fitness:
Start a workout. Tell Alexa to start a workout. She’ll pick an exercise for you. First thing she told us? 15 squat jumps. Next? Wall squats for 30 seconds.
Link with FitBit. Ask Alexa how many steps your FitBit has recorded. Check your stats for the day. Again, this can be handy if you’re a busy mom and your hands are full.
Features I’d Like to Try:
Create lists. Again, this coordinates with an app. But you can create a variety of lists and have Alexa add items to them. Then access the written lists from your smart phone while you’re out and about. Some options could be shopping lists, to-do lists, reading lists, homework, and so many more.
Dim the lights. You need smart home devices for this one. The Alexa app has a smart home feature you link to.
Find my phone. Alexa will tell you a digit code to add to your app; then she can help you find your phone when needed.
Order pizza from Dominoes or Pizza Hut. Oh yeah! We need to try this one. Pure laziness, I know. But the coolness factor might make me very popular with my teen.
Order items. I asked her what the #1 skincare product is. She accessed my Amazon account and told me what I had ordered and asked if I wanted to reorder. The kids were listening, so I immedately told them it’s NOT ok to order from Alexa. I can just see the bills rolling in.
Convinced yet? We may order a couple more Alexas to keep around the house. She’s pretty handy–and fun!
What are your favorite commands for Alexa?