Maybe you’re thinking about getting an Echo device with Amazon Alexa or you have one and you want to know what the best everyday uses for Alexa are. Here are 10 everyday uses for Alexa that I use on my Echo. If you’re new to the Amazon Echo and this will give you some fun useful ideas for how to use it.
If your a seasoned echo pro this article will go over some of the updates over the past year as well. I also have a bonus feature for this year at the end of the article and its one that I think is an interesting use for the echo.
Two of the most used functions for my family utilizing timers and alarms. Both of these features have been updated over the past year. Did you know that you can set multiple timers and name each one of them?
Then when a timer goes off it’ll tell you which timer it is. This is great if you’re trying to keep track of multiple things, like setting a cooking timer.
2. Smart Home Control
Smart home control is one of the best uses for the Echo. For years you’ve been able to control smart lights, smart plugs, switches, thermostats, cameras and so much more. Last year Amazon made it easier to control your devices with the addition of groups.
You can combine all of your lights and smart devices in a room with an echo into a group. My favorite update this year is being able to just say “turn off the lights”. The echoes in the group know to only turn on or off the lights it is grouped with. No more having to remember the name of each light or the name of the group.
That is a game-changer especially with my wife who did not know the name of every light or group in the house. Now you can go from room to room and say turn on or off lights. With the same command, I’ve done the same thing with smart switches in my kitchen. It just lights on and the two switches trigger. This has been one of the best upgrades for smart home control.
3. Listening To Music
The echoes are great for listening to music in whatever room you’re in. You can even combine them and listen to multiple rooms at the same time. With the Amazon echo you can listen to Amazon music, Apple Music, Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, tuned in, Sirius XM, Amazon HD music, and more.
I was really excited that Apple Music came to the echos the last December. I know it’s not available in all countries and I know that is a bummer, but there are the other music options as well. You’re able to just ask for an artist, genre, music, or song.
With Amazon, you even create playlists with your voice and add songs to it by saying add the song to the name of the list. With other services, you could access your playlists that you’ve created through their app.
4. Multi-Room Audio
Building on the music option you have multi-room audio speaker groups. For a little while now you’ve been able to create speaker groups of echoes. For example, I can have an upstairs group, a downstairs group, or an everywhere group. This past year Amazon added the option to add your fire TV sticks or fire TV Cubes into a group for multi-room audio.
Now you get music coming out of your TV, this is a great addition if you have a nice sound system that you use with your fire TV.
5. Drop-In Feature
An oldie but a goodie, the drop-in feature is still a great tool for talking to someone in another room or even from outside the house. The drop-in feature is like an intercom system for your echo’s. Just say “drop-in” on the name of an echo in your house and you’ll be connected right to that echo.
You can even use the app or echo Auto to drop in when you’re outside of the house. We actually have a whole article on how to use the drop-in feature as well.
It’s easy to keep track of your day with calendars. You can connect Google, Microsoft, Microsoft Exchange, or Apple Calendar accounts to your echo. You can choose what calendars you want to have sync up to your echo. You can also choose what calendars you want to add events to with your voice.
If you have an Echo Show you can set it up so that you can see your calendars and it will tell you what’s coming up next. If I want to hear what my events are for the day I can say “Alexa, what’s on my calendar?”
7. Reminders and Lists
Our seventh on this list is using your Echo device for reminders and lists. With your Echo, you could set reminders for yourself or others. You can choose in the app to also send that reminder to your phone when it does go off or you could turn on the missed reminders notification so if you’re away from your Echo a yellow light will stay on to give you a visual to check your reminder.
With lists you can create lists and add items to it using your voice, there’s even the option to add multiple things at the same time. For example, I could say “Alexa, add milk, cheese, and avocado to my grocery list”.
Routines are very useful and allow you to create a series of steps that can be triggered by voice at a specific time by select smart devices, a location, an alarm, an Alexa gadget or Alexa Guard. With routines, you pick what’s going to trigger that routine and then you pick the actions that go with it.
The actions include saying something, reading your calendar off, change some device settings, have your Google or Microsoft email read to you, send a message from the Alexa app to other Alexa users, play music, give you a newsflash briefing, trigger skills, trigger smart devices, traffic, wait times, or weather.
The wait option may need more of an explanation basically you could put “wait’s” between steps. Maybe you want to have a motion sensor trigger lights on in one step and then you wait 10 minutes and then in the next step it turns them off. You may also want to delay some other step in your routine, maybe you have the lights downstairs wait 10 minutes after you dismiss your alarm.
The fact that you can trigger a routine by using an alarm is really impressive.
9. Audio Books and Podcasts
For us, audible books and podcasts are a great everyday use for Alexa. With your Alexa, you can ask for a podcast and it will search the available services such as iHeartRadio or tune in for the podcast you want.
One of the things I love is that I can listen to my audiobooks from any of the echo devices. When I ask for my audiobook it will just pick up from where I left off on the audible app. You can also have Alexa read your Kindle books as well.
10. Phone Calls
When you set up the Echo you can give permission to the app to use your contacts. So if you give permission to use your contacts then you can make calls from your echo. If you set up a voice profile it will know your voice and contacts. So when you ask to call your mom as opposed to your spouse’s mom it will call the correct person.
You can also make a call by saying the numbers in a phone number, so if you want to call a business you can just say the numbers. Another great calling option is Skype you can use Skype to contact other Skype users through their Skype app or their echo. If you’re using something like the echo show you can do voice and video.
Bonus: Alexa Guard
Here’s the bonus everyday use that I mentioned at the beginning. It’s the Alexa Guard and it can give you a little extra peace of mind. When the guard is activated your echoes will listen for the sounds of smoke alarms or CEO alarms going off, and it will also listen for the sound of glass breaking. If any of those things happen an alert will be sent to your phone.
Alexa Guard can also give your house that lived-in look by turning on or off rooms at random times after sunset. It uses your zip code to determine when sunset is; you can pick which lights you want to use with guard and now when you arm it, anyone who’s up to no good won’t know if you’re home because they’ll see lights come on at random times.
Another cool addition with Alexa Guard is that you can use it to trigger routines. It could turn off all the lights except for a couple in the house and all the devices when you leave.
So those are my ten great everyday uses for the echo. Make sure you surf around and check out the rest of my site while you are here. I’m sure you will find more useful information like my top-secret Alexa Easter Eggs and Google Home Easter Eggs lists. I’m sure you’ll find some in there that will brighten up your day.