Checking off to-do lists while cooking, turning on music by remote control or calling someone without having to hold the phone in your hand – this and more is possible with the Alexa voice assistant from Amazon. It is intended to make everyday life easier for the user and enables an individual smart home to be set up. What features does Alexa have? How does it work? Are all electronic devices compatible with Alexa?
- Alexa is Amazon’s cloud-based voice assistant.
- Numerous Amazon devices can be controlled with Alexa voice commands – the Echo product range.
- Alexa learns and is individually adaptable.
What is “Alexa”?
“Alexa” – behind the women’s name is the cloud-based voice assistant from Amazon. Alexa needs access to the internet in order to pull all of its data from the cloud or other internet sources. Any number of compatible devices can be paired with Alexa. In addition to the Amazon Echo devices on which Alexa is already integrated, there are also external devices that can be connected to the Echo speakers.
In order for a user to be able to set up an Amazon Echo device, they must create a customer account. In this way, he always has the option to personalize the settings for his device and Alexa. It is not necessary to take out an Amazon Prime subscription, but it makes sense, for example, if the user uses Alexa in connection with the Amazon Fire TV or wants to access the music content of Amazon Prime Music via Alexa .
If you do not want to use Alexa services, you can activate the “Do not disturb” function via the Alexa app. It can be deactivated again just as easily.
What hardware can Alexa be used with?
Amazon offers a variety of devices for using the Alexa voice assistant. Depending on your needs, there are small and larger devices as well as those that have a display. Possible hardware variants of Amazon Echo are:
- Amazon Echo:classic Amazon loudspeaker, available in many different colors
- Echo Dot:smaller version of the Amazon echo
- Echo Plus:Echo speakers with additional features such as a smart home hub
- Echo Spot:Amazon Echo with integrated display
- Echo Show:Amazon echoes with an extra large display
- Echo Buttons:Extensions to the Amazon Echo for games and entertainment, available in packs of two, up to four can be linked
In addition, Amazon offers devices that do not belong to the Echo product line itself, but which also master voice control using Alexa. These include, for example, the Amazon Fire TV and the Amazon Fire TV stick, as well as all of the provider’s Fire tablets. In addition, a lot of external devices can be controlled by Alexa or the Echo devices by coupling them with one another. These include lights, heating thermostats, video monitoring devices, motion detectors, televisions, audio devices, vacuum robots, mobile phone holders for the car, loudspeakers / boxes, WLAN routers or security cameras in children’s rooms.
How does Alexa work
The voice assistant Alexa was mainly developed for the different Echo devices from Amazon. As soon as the device is installed, it is available to the user. Alexa starts when the user says the activation word “Alexa”. This means that the voice assistant knows that a voice command is about to follow. Alternatively, Alexa also understands “Echo”, “Amazon” or “Computer” as activation words. The user can set a different activation word at any time via the Alexa app.
After the user has spoken the activation word, he can give Alexa a voice command. Possible actions are:
- Communication:call someone through the loudspeaker or send messages, make calls between each Echo device
- Play music:radio, streaming services, podcasts, audiobooks, Kindle eBooks, sleep timer (music to help you fall asleep)
- Get information:news, traffic reports, weather
- Asking Alexa questions:cinema and television programs, restaurants and shops nearby, arithmetic problems, spelling words
- Practical helper for at home:alarm and timer times, appointments from the calendar, create lists (to-do lists, shopping lists – also for the Amazon shop)
- Control smart home devices:switch lights, coffee machines, heaters and devices compatible with the Alexa system on and off
- Have fun with Alexa:let the joke be told, let the dice roll, start games (coupling with Echo Buttons)
- Shopping via voice control:reorders and new orders, filling shopping carts and placing orders manually via the website or the Amazon app
The voice commands can be executed equally by all existing Echo devices – as long as they are linked to one another.
The system can be expanded as required using so-called “Alexa Skills”. The skills include: Dictionaries, encyclopedias, translators (for example in English, French, Spanish, Italian, Polish or Russian), playlists and favorites from music streaming providers and many other features.