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July 14, 2017

Amazon Alexa: Everything you need to know

by John_A


Getting to know your Alexa.

Amazon’s Echo brings you an assistant in the form Alexa. She can help you with traffic, play you music, read books, and even help you get the shopping done. With so many features, it can get overwhelming, which is why we’ve collected everything you need to know in place. Welcome to your Amazon Alexa ultimate guide.

How to enable and disable Alexa skills

Alexa is the beating heart of the Amazon Echo and the platform upon which all of its abilities are based. Think of it like an operating system with apps that developers can build for it.

In this case, the apps are known as skills, and they’re what makes your Echo do all kinds of things like turn on your lights, control your Wi-Fi and tell you what’s happening in the world today. You can turn skills on and off as you want access to them, and there are plenty to choose from!

How to enable and disable Alexa skills

How to use Alexa for sports updates


If you’re a sports fan, then it can be difficult at times to keep track of your favorite teams. With Alexa, you can program in your favorite teams and get updates by simply asking her for sports updates. You can add multiple teams, too, so you’ll never miss a score again.

How to use Alexa for sports updates

How to add a user to an Alexa household

Household profiles are an option that you can use on Alexa to share certain Amazon content and purchases with another user. This means that you and your sweetie can share your audiobooks, music, shopping lists, and plenty more.

How to add a user to Alexa

How to use Alexa for traffic updates

Traffic is the bane of existence for anyone who’s ever been late to a meeting because of gridlock. While you can use your phone, the radio, or the internet to check on traffic before heading out of the house, you can also ask Alexa. She’ll let you know what your commute looks like; all you need to do is let her know where you’re going.

How to use Alexa for traffic updates

How to add new smart home hardware to your Alexa groups


Alexa works hard to make itself a hub for all of your questions and technology. This, of course, includes smart home hardware, like Hue bulbs. Before you can go about making your house listen to your spoken commands, though, you’ll need to add that new hardware to Alexa.

How to add new hardware to Alexa

How to sync your calendar with Alexa

Our lives have gotten progressively busier. Whether you’re bouncing between doctors appointments, play dates, meetings, or family occasions, keeping track of everything you have going on is easier said than done. Thankfully, Alexa is here to help you out by keeping track of your calendar for you. All you need to do is sync your account, and you’ll be good to go!

How to sync your calendar

How to listen to audiobooks using Alexa


Talking to Alexa can make keeping organized easier, but it’s definitely useful for more than just an interactive to-do list and search engine. You can also use Alexa to listen to your audiobooks when you’re ready to relax.

How to listen to audiobooks

How to connect your favorite music to Alexa

Most of us spend some time every day listening to music, podcasts, or audiobooks. For some folks, it’s how they workout at home, while others like to lounge on the couch and listen to a good story after a hard day at work. You can connect Spotify, Pandora, and more when you’re ready to relax with some sweet tunes!

How to connect your favorite music to Alexa

How to shop on Amazon with Alexa


Everything Amazon ever does has some form of hook into buying things from its onine store. On its tablets, that extends to adverts on your lock screen, but on the Amazon Echo, it’s pretty much the opposite.

You can use it to buy things from Amazon, but only if you want to. There are no ads, no upsell. But instead of reaching for your phone or going on the computer, just ask Alexa to order things for you.

How to shop on Amazon with Alexa

How to customize your Alexa flash briefing

Alexa, what’s in the news? That’s a question you can ask your Amazon Echo every single day and receive a custom report based on what you want to hear about. Cut out the fluff, keep the good stuff.

Thanks to the Alexa skills catalog, there are a number of different news sources you can call upon to tailor your flash briefing to your particular tastes. It’s really easy to set up, too.

How to customize your Alexa flash briefing

How to use Alexa’s to-do list

The beauty of using something like Alexa to manage your to-do list at all is the voice interaction. You suddenly think of something that you need to take care of later, but where’s your phone, or even a pad and pen?

Alexa can take down that note for you, and all you need to do is ask.

How to use Alexa’s to-do list

How to improve Alexa’s voice recognition


Out of the box, the impressive microphone array in most Amazon Echo and Echo-like products ensure your voice is clearly heard from across the room. Being heard isn’t the same thing as being understood, and whether it’s due to an accent Alexa doesn’t quite process or some interference in the room, if Alexa doesn’t get what you’re saying, there’s a relatively simple fix. Contained within your Alexa app is a tool to improve its ability to understand you, and as long as you have a couple minutes to spare and a quiet room that tool can make a significant difference in making the Echo, and Alexa, your best assistant friend.

How to improve Alexa’s voice recognition

How to send a voice message using Alexa

You can now send messages through Alexa using just your voice, but there are some caveats.

Messaging with Alexa is one of those features you either don’t know how you managed without or you’re completely uninterested in. For those falling into the former category, there are a few quick tricks for getting the most out of this new Alexa-based messaging system.

How to send a voice message using Alexa

How to track what’s being said to Alexa

Alexa learns about you as you interact with her, and part of the reason she’s able to do this is that she records all of your conversations. The history is where all of these conversations are stored and where you can delete conversations you don’t want Alexa to learn from.

Get Alexa’s voice history

How to stop Alexa from buying things


Alexa can make your life easier in dozens of different ways, including ordering items off of Amazon for you. However, just because you’re asking about something doesn’t mean you actually want to purchase it. Since voice ordering is turned on by default when you set up your Amazon Echo, you may want to know how to add security when making purchases, or turn off voice purchasing entirely.

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How to get the most from Alexa in Canada


Amazon hasn’t officially brought its Echo speakers to Canada yet, but that hasn’t start eager early adopters from getting their hands on them. The good news is you can set it up to work in Canada, although it takes a bit of work to do so, including manually downloading the Alexa app and tweaking some settings in your Amazon account.

But once you’ve got things set up, you’ll be able to enjoy the full benefits of having Alexa at your beck and call.

How to get the most from Alexa in Canada

How to get Alexa in your home without buying an Echo

One of the coolest parts of Amazon’s Alexa service, especially when comparing the tech to other platforms, is the commitment to many different hardware partners. Any company can make something that works with Alexa, giving that new accessory complete control over all of the things an Amazon Echo has access to. That may mean a more capable speaker, or something a great deal more portable. There’s a lot of flexibility here, and that means there are many different options to choose from.

How to get Alexa in your home without buying an Echo

Amazon Echo


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  • Get the latest Alexa news


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