Top 5 Amazon Alexa Tips

So in the last video I reviewed my experience living with 3 Sonos One speakers ... and the Amazon Alexa integration.  What’s so great about Alexa and why am I a little obsessed with it?  Here are my top 5.

Tip 1:  Flash news brief

In the Amazon Alexa app you can set up a Flash News Brief.  You pick your favorite news sources, pick the order you’d like to hear them in, and you’re good to go.  Now, when you get up in the morning, or get home from work and are getting dinner ready, just call out, “Alexa, Flash Brief,” and she’ll start playing the latest news clips from your selections.

 

Tip 2: Timers

This one may seem silly, but it’s one of our favorite uses ... especially in the kitchen.  Set timers!  You’re cooking a meal and your hands are covered in food, but you need to set a two minute timer to keep track of something on the stove.  Just call out, “Alexa, set a timer for 2 minutes.”  Even better, you can name your timers if you’re juggling multiple timers at once, “Alexa, set a tea timer for 5 minutes.”

 

Tip 3: Commute and travel times

In the Amazon Alexa app, you can set up your home address and work address.  After you do that, all you have to do is ask, “Alexa, how’s my commute to work.”  If only my commute was that good on a typical day.

 

Tip 4: Just the facts

This is a little bit of a “well, duh” tip, but don’t forget that you can ask Alexa about pretty much any fact.  “How old is Patrick Stewart?”  “What’s the weather?”  “How many ounces in a gallon?”  Believe it or not, you’ll find yourself using this more than you think.

 

Tip 5: Home automation

This is my favorite one.  Home automation.  This one doesn’t work out of the box and requires buying additional hardware like smart light bulbs, outlet switches, thermostats, door locks, etc.  The sky’s the limit, but don’t feel like you have to go all in or nothing.  Start with something small ... like a Philips Hue bulb starter pack.  Or a Wemo outlet switch that you can plug a lamp into.  This is where things get really fun. 

You can create “scenes” or “groups” that will turn on or off, set light levels, of multiple devices in one go.  “Alexa, it’s movie time.”  “Alexa, turn off the den lights.”

This last tip is a much, much deeper topic, that I’m planning on creating a more advanced video about.There are some very cool setups you can create with home automation that can save you energy, protect your home ... or ... in my case ... put me in danger when my house becomes self aware and isn’t happy with me.But that’s for another day.