Alexa tips & tricks: How to get the most from your smart speaker

How To Get The Most From Your Smart Speaker

If you have an Amazon Alexa, you may actually be surprised to hear just how much you can do with it.

Just playing music or asking for news updates doesn’t really cut it these days. Even playing podcasts, setting to-do lists and giving weather updates are old hat.

Alexa is found in all Amazon Echo smart speakers, and in some third-party models such as Sonos speakers.

How To Get The Most Out Of Your Alexa

Change The Wake Word

Got someone in the house called Alex/Alexandra? You don’t have to say Alexa every time you want the Echo to wake.

You’re limited to what you can say so you don’t pick anything too obscure or rude, but just head into the Alexa app (Settings > Communication > Alexa Devices> Select your Echo > Wake Word) and pick from the list.

Amazon, Computer or Echo are there right now.

Pair It With Your Alexa Gadget

Fire TV or Firestick? Kindle? TV backlights? Smart clocks? If you have an Alexa-enabled gadget, you can pair it with its fellow Alexa gadgets too.

This can help make adjustments by using your voice rather than other complicated setups, and you can also use it with smart children’s toys if you want a bit more control over what happens.

Got smart security such as cameras and lights? If they’re Alexa compatible, hook them all up and you can set up a Routine so if one thing happens, another thing happens in response

What To Do With Your Alexa

Get Traffic Updates For Your Commute

When (or if) you will be going back to the office again, you might want to know if you can go via the motorway or if you have to divert because of traffic.

You can pick out your end work address, and also set up any points of interest on the way such as if you have to drop the kids off at school or go via the post office, so you don’t get held up.

Drop-In On Loved Ones

Just press Communicate in the Alexa app, and you can see a list of speakers that you can ‘drop-in’ on.

These are speakers which are in your little hub at home, or which your phone contacts have allowed permission for you to call. So, you can tell the kids their dinner is ready if they need to be torn away from their game in their room, or you can ring your nan if her phone line isn’t working to check she is okay.

You can also Drop-In on the living room Echo if you’re at work to say hello to Barney the bulldog because they don’t need to answer for you to be able to hear what is going on. Note that this isn’t supported on all third-party speakers.

Turn On Whisper Mode

Just ask nicely, and Alexa will whisper to you and you can whisper back. Great if you don’t want to disturb anyone, or you’re ordering something on the sly.

Or, you can go to Settings > Voice Responses if you don’t want to ask her out loud and defeat the purpose of whispering.

Turn On Follow-Up Mode

Fed up of always having to say the wake word when you’re asking question after question? Perhaps you’re following a recipe and would rather chat like a normal human.

Go to Settings > Device Settings > Your Speaker > Follow-Up Mode to turn it off or on. Great if you tend to ask a few questions in a row that are related and you want Alexa to remember what was said previously.

Review Your Privacy

Settings > Alexa Privacy will show you your voice history (what has been said and picked up by your speakers) and you can also see the access the speaker has to information such as your address and location.