New Amazon Echo device owner? Here are the first things to try

How to get started with your Amazon Echo device

Amazon Echo was one of the most sought-after gifts during the most recent holiday season, literally flying off virtual and physical shelves.

Three years after defining a category with the first Echo smart speaker, Amazon has regularly refreshed an expanded the line which now includes seven models, each powered by Alexa.

  • Echo (1st generation)
  • Echo (2nd generation)
  • Echo Dot (1st generation)
  • Echo Dot (2nd generation)
  • Echo Show
  • Echo Plus
  • Echo Spot

Did you get one yourself recently? If the answer is yes, then you might want to check out this list of tips and tricks meant to help new Echo owners get acquainted with their new Alexa device.

Once the Alexa app is downloaded on your smartphone / tablet and your device is all set up, you’re ready for your first interactions with Amazon’s virtual assistant. Try something basic first, like:

  • Ask questions/get answers – Alexa can swiftly pull up info from Wikipedia, read out definitions and provide you with answers to whatever questions you might have (example: Alexa, who was Ivar the Boneless?)
  • Check the news/weather – listen to up-to-the-minute weather and news from a variety of sources. Users can also opt to hear a flash briefing – a daily curation of top news from sources you handpicked by you. In the Alexa app visit Settings>Flash Briefing>Get more flash briefing content, to add more sources
  • Play your favorite songs – ask Alexa to play music from Amazon Music Unlimited, Spotify, Pandora. Just say something like “Alexa, play [Sleep Party People] on Pandora”.
  • Set alarms, timers/make lists – with Alexa you can set up voice-controlled alarms (now made better with the ability to use music from Amazon Music, Spotify or Pandora), timers and to-do lists (never forget to buy milk again)
  • Take the edge off with a few jokes – simply say “Alexa, tell me a joke” if you feel like you need a reason to smile

Once you start getting the hang of the basics, you can try to explore even further. Some other things you can do:

  • Place a call/send a message – try hands-free calling and messaging with Alexa. Simply say: “Call (David’s) mobile” without interrupting what you’re doing
  • Calendar Integration – Alexa-powered devices work with Google, G Suite, Outlook and Office 365. Once enabled users will be able to ask Alexa to give them an overview of their day or make changes/additions to their calendar solely relying on voice commands
  • Go wild with voice shopping – Use Alexa to keep stocked on the things you need. Say “Alexa, order soap” or “Alexa, open Domino”. Once in the Domino skill, customers will be guided through the ordering process.
  • Make your home smart – Alexa can control many smart devices around the house from lights to thermostats. You will need to have the manufacturer’s app on your smartphone/tablet and make sure you set it up on the same Wi-Fi network as your Alexa device. Then you can enable the skill for the smart home device from Settings in the Alexa app.

Unsure how to use some features? Ask Alexa to help you. Try asking things like:

Alexa, how do I play music?

Alexa, how do check my messages?

Alexa, what does the green light mean?

Alexa, how do I change my location?

Amazon is keen on improving its rooster of Echo devices, so it’s worth regularly checking to see what’s new and what you can take advantage of to improve your life with your Echo.