Amazon Echo is a great device, there is no doubt about that. While the plethora of Alexa commands, and its compatibility with a variety of smart devices makes it even better, there are certain hidden features, and tricks in the Alexa powered smart speaker that you might not be aware of. So, here are 7 Amazon Echo tricks that you should definitely try on your Amazon Echo, Tap, or Echo Dot device:
1. Use Echo Outside US
As great as Amazon Echo is, it’s a shame that it is not available anywhere other than the US and UK (at least, as of now…). However, if you just can’t wait for Amazon to release the Alexa powered smart speaker in your country, you can change the location to your city and country, as well. It requires some amount of tinkering with the API, but it’s not too much work. If you want to change the location on your Echo device, you can read our detailed article about it.
2. Sort Skills By Release Date
If you head on over to the Skills section in the Alexa app, you will notice that there is no way to sort the (almost 3000) skills. However, if you want to sort the Skills by, say, their release date, you can easily do that using a simple work-around.
- Simply go to the Skills section in the Alexa app (you can access it at alexa.amazon.com on your laptop, as well), and search for “Skills”.
- The app will display all the available Skills, and you can sort the results by “Release Date”, and more.
3. View Command History
Let me just say that I am absolutely awed by Alexa’s recognition accuracy on the Amazon Echo. It’s incredibly accurate, and hears my commands correctly (almost) all the time. However, as it is with every piece of technology, there are issues, and sometimes the Echo doesn’t quite respond the way one would expect it to. In such cases, there is an easy way to see exactly what Alexa heard when you issued the command.
- Simply go to Settings -> History. Here you will be able to see everything that the Echo has heard, and what it recognised your speech as. You can even playback the recording of what you said to Alexa, or delete the recording completely.
4. Force Software Updates
The Amazon Echo automatically updates whenever it gets the time to do it, however, if you don’t always keep it connected to the internet, or use it so often that it doesn’t get enough time to update, chances are that it’s still running an older software.
- You can check the current software version on your Alexa device by going to “Settings -> Your Echo“.
- Here, scroll down, and you will see the “Device software version” written.
- To check the latest software version available for your device, you can head on to Amazon’s Help Page.
- If you are running an older software on your Amazon Echo, you can simply mute the device, and leave it like that for 30 minutes, to force it to update.
5. Configure Flash Briefing Content
Alexa makes sure you are updated on the weather, and the latest news every day, by means of a Flash Briefing that you can trigger by saying a command like “Alexa, what’s up?“. However, if the content that the Amazon Echo tells you about in its Flash Briefing is not important (or useful) enough for you, there is an easy way to configure it.
- Go to Settings -> Flash Briefing, and you will see a list of all the sources that your Amazon Echo uses for its Flash Briefing. You can simply toggle the switches next to each source to the on/off position according to your will. There are also a lot of other Skills that work with Flash Briefing, and you can enable them, as well, to add some content to your daily Flash Briefing.
6. Short Commands
While it might feel more natural to say things like “Alexa, add take the garbage out to my to-do list“, or “Alexa, what’s the weather like?“, there are situations when you don’t have the time to say the entire sentence, and you just want to schedule things, or get information in a hurry. Fortunately, Amazon Echo can understand short commands as well. So, the next time you want to add “take the garbage out” to your to-do list, simply say “Alexa, take the garbage out“, and Alexa will add it to your to-do list. Similarly, for weather updates, you can simply say “Alexa, weather“, and Echo understands that you are actually asking it for an update on the weather.
These short commands come in extremely handy when you don’t have a lot of time on your hands, and you just want Alexa to get the job done, without having to speak out the entire command.
7. Teach Alexa New Responses
If you have been using Amazon Echo, chances are you’ve wanted to get Alexa to respond to custom commands as well. Fortunately, you can! Using a Skill called “Everyone Around“, you can create custom commands for Alexa, and get it to respond to them, the way you want.
Note: The actual name of the Skill is “Teach Alexa new responses – Prank your friends”, but I have used its “invocation phrase” for clarity.
- Simply enable the Skill by saying “Alexa, enable Everyone Around“.
- You will have to set up the custom phrases and replies in a web app. To do this, say “Alexa, open Everyone Around“, and you will get an email with the link you can use to create custom replies for your Amazon Echo device. Once you have set these up, you can start using them straight away.
There are a lot of other useful, and fun Skills for Amazon Echo, and you should definitely check them out.
Use These Tricks to Get the Most out of Alexa
Well, those were the 7 Amazon Echo tricks that we really liked. You should definitely try them out with your Amazon Echo, Tap, or Echo Dot devices. As always, we would like to know your opinion about these tricks, and your experience with the Amazon Echo, as a whole. Also, if you know of a great Alexa trick that we didn’t include in this article, do let us know about it in the comments section below.