What are some hidden Alexa features you can do with Amazon Echo devices?

Despite being widely popular, Amazon Echo devices and Alexa have several hidden features that many users may not be aware of. Here are some of the most interesting and lesser-known features of Alexa:

  1. Voice training: Alexa can learn your voice and recognize it better over time, which can improve accuracy and responsiveness. To access this feature, go to the Alexa app and select Settings > Device Settings > [Your Echo Device] > Voice Training.
  2. Drop-in: With this feature, you can easily connect with other Echo devices in your home, or even those of friends and family. Simply say “Alexa, drop in on [device name]” to start a conversation.
  3. Alexa Guard: You can set up Alexa Guard to listen for specific sounds, such as smoke alarms or broken glass, and send you a notification if it detects anything unusual. This feature can be used to help keep your home safer.
  4. Alexa routines: You can create custom routines that trigger multiple actions with a single voice command. For example, you could say “Alexa, goodnight” to turn off the lights, lock the doors, and play soft music to help you fall asleep.
  5. Announcements: You can use Alexa to make announcements across all of your Echo devices, such as telling everyone in the house that dinner is ready. Simply say “Alexa, announce [message].”
  6. Follow-up mode: Alexa will continue to listen for five seconds after responding to a request, allowing you to ask additional questions or give follow-up commands without having to repeat the wake word.
  7. Alexa Blueprints: This feature allows you to create custom Alexa skills and responses, so you can personalize your Echo device to fit your specific needs and preferences.

These are just a few examples of the hidden features of Amazon Echo devices and Alexa. By exploring the capabilities of your device and experimenting with different commands, you may discover even more useful and interesting features.

Things you can do with your Amazon Echo devices in 2023

Amazon Echo devices started the revolution to making your home “smart”. It gave you a new way to access the Internet during a time when everyone was using their phones. Using Alexa through Echo devices allowed you to be free of your hands and interact with lists, messages, calls, reminders, music playlists, shopping lists and much more.

What are some things you can do with Echo devices in 2023 that you may not know about? Here are some.

Amazon Echo devices, powered by the virtual assistant Alexa, offer a wide range of features and capabilities that can make your life easier and more convenient. Here are some cool things you can do with your Amazon Echo devices:

  1. Voice control: You can use your voice to control smart home devices, such as lights, thermostats, and security systems, making it easy to manage your home environment.
  2. Music streaming: You can use Alexa to play music from popular streaming services like Amazon Music, Spotify, and Apple Music, and even ask for songs, playlists, and radio stations.
  3. Hands-free calling and messaging: You can use Alexa to make hands-free calls and send messages to other Echo devices or the Alexa app, allowing you to stay in touch with friends and family.
  4. News and information: Alexa can provide you with the latest news, weather, sports scores, and other information, all with just a voice command.
  5. Home automation: With Alexa, you can create routines and schedules for your smart home devices, so you can automate tasks like turning off lights and locking doors at a set time each day.
  6. Skill integration: Alexa has thousands of skills, or third-party apps, that can be added to your device to enhance its functionality. From ordering a pizza to booking a ride, Alexa can help you perform a variety of tasks.
  7. Entertainment: You can use Alexa to play games, like trivia and Jeopardy, or to listen to audiobooks, podcasts, and other audio content.

These are just a few examples of the many things you can do with your Amazon Echo device. As the Alexa platform continues to evolve and expand, you can expect even more capabilities and features in the future.

Is Alexa getting worse?

“Alexa, what time is it?”

“Alexa, add sugar to the shopping list.”

“Alexa read my calendar.”

These commands use to be a staple at our household. Our family jumped on the Amazon Echo craze buying multiple Echo’s and Echo dots that covered nearly every room. The Alexa app graced our phones where we shared shopping lists. We frequently used announcements to get someone’s attention as it would generate across the home.

However, and noticeably, summoning Alexa became more laborious. We could ask the same question only to yield the wrong answer. We would frequently get the annoying, “By the way..” suggestions to be met by our entire family yelling for it to “STOP!” So what happened? Is Alexa getting worse?

It’s subjective to say whether Alexa is getting worse or not, as opinions can vary greatly depending on personal experiences and individual preferences. However, some reasons why some people might feel that Alexa has become less effective or useful include:

  1. Increased competition: With the growing popularity of smart speakers, there are now many competitors in the market offering similar features and capabilities as Alexa. This increased competition could be leading to a perceived decrease in Alexa’s effectiveness as users compare it to other devices.
  2. User errors: Alexa relies on voice commands, which can sometimes be misinterpreted, leading to incorrect responses or actions. This can result in frustration for users who expect Alexa to perform accurately.
  3. Technical issues: Like any technology, Alexa can experience technical glitches that affect its performance. For example, connectivity issues with the internet or other devices can lead to slower responses or incorrect responses.
  4. Privacy concerns: With the increasing use of smart speakers, there have been growing concerns about privacy and data security. Some users may feel that Alexa is not as secure as they would like, which could negatively impact their overall experience.

It’s important to note that while some users may feel that Alexa is getting worse, many others continue to have a positive experience with the device. Amazon is actively working to improve Alexa and add new features and capabilities, so it’s possible that the perception of Alexa will change over time.

Could it be that Amazon has finally realized that it’s line of Echo devices will not help them make more money? Maybe the divested in its infrastructure and as a result, the responses are not subpar.

What do you think?

Current state of Amazon Echo Devices

The Amazon Echo line of smart speakers has been one of the leading products in the rapidly growing smart home market. The devices, powered by Amazon’s virtual assistant, Alexa, allow users to interact with their homes using voice commands to play music, control smart devices, make calls, and access information.

Since the first Amazon Echo was introduced in 2014, the company has released several new models and updates to its line of smart speakers, with each iteration offering improved sound quality, enhanced functionality, and new features. The current state of Amazon Echo devices is one of continued innovation and growth.

One of the latest additions to the Amazon Echo lineup is the Echo Show 10. This device features a 10-inch screen that rotates to follow you as you move around the room, making it ideal for video calls, watching videos, and viewing visual information from Alexa. It also has improved sound quality and the ability to control other smart home devices, making it an even more versatile addition to the smart home ecosystem.

Another recent addition to the Amazon Echo lineup is the Echo Dot with clock. As the name suggests, this device is a smaller, more compact version of the Echo Dot that features a built-in clock, making it ideal for use in bedrooms or other areas where a clock is needed.

In addition to new devices, Amazon has also made significant upgrades to its existing line of Echo devices. The latest Echo Dot, for example, features improved sound quality and a new, rounded design that makes it easier to use and a more attractive addition to any room.

Finally, Amazon has also been expanding the capabilities of Alexa, making it even more useful for managing and controlling smart home devices. With the addition of new skills and integrations, Alexa can now perform an even wider range of tasks, making it an indispensable tool for smart home enthusiasts.

In conclusion, the current state of Amazon Echo devices is one of continued innovation and growth. With new devices, improved functionality, and enhanced capabilities, Alexa and the Amazon Echo line of smart speakers are well-positioned to remain leaders in the smart home market for years to come.

Amazon Fire TV – What live local or subscription channels are available

Devices such as Fire TV, Google TV, Roku, smart tv’s, gaming devices, and others are offering quality programming. Combine this with services such as Netflix, Hulu, Sling, Youtube TV, you can get close to what cable and satellite offers.

For the longest time, cable and satellite companies had a strong grip at this industry and the prices continued to climb. If you wanted to watch channels such as CNN, TNT, AMC, ESPN, HDTV, HBO, you had to subscribe to cable or satellite. But now we have options.

Amazon Fire TV is a viable option for cord cutters as you can install respective apps to get live TV channels. Amazon is also partnering with more live sporting events.

  • Amazon has partnered with NFL to provide live stream of NFL Thursday Night Football for Prime members
  • Partnered with MLB to stream certain MLB games (barring blackout)
  • Partnered with Paramount+ to stream UEFA football (soccer) games
  • Partnered with NBA and WNBA to stream certain games and subscription
  • Partnered with MLS to stream soccer games

Fire TV #safeathome tips

There has been a reknowned interest in devices such as Fire TV the past few weeks due to more people staying at home. It is for a good reason. We’ve seen more people use Fire TV to leverage on demand content for things such as news, cooking and baking shows, fitness, and educational materials.

Below is a list of such content which are all available on Fire TV!


ABC News
CBS News
NBC News
Fox News
The Washington Post

You can also download YouTube app and get access to many many content. Two news feeds that are usually live are BloomBerg, Al Jazeera and BBC news.

For Fitness:

Daily Burn
5 Min Workouts
Daily workouts

For Cooking and Baking

Cooking Channel Go
Baking by iFood.tv
Food Network GO
Baking for Beginners

For educational content:

For ages 2-4 – ABCMouse, RosiMosi, Budge Studios, Nickelodeon, Animal Math Preschool Math Games

For ages 5-7 – Let’s Spell, Thinkrolls, Beeartist, Sight Words, Noggin Preschool, PBS Kids

For ages 7-9 – Prodigy Math Game, Math age 5-11 free, PBS KIDS Games, NASA, IXL, Endless Wordplay, Fun Spanish

For ages 9-12 – Osmo Coding Jam, RV AppStudios: Multiplication Kids, Electronics for Kids

Which is better – Amazon Echo 1st or 2nd

A few months ago, I jumped on a great deal where I could score a 2nd Gen Amazon Echo for just $20 but there was a catch. The catch was that I had to trade in my 1st Gen Echo. On the surface, it made sense as my 1st Gen Echo was purchased on April 9, 2016 so it was coming up 3 years of its use. I did some slight reading on the comparison between the 1st and 2nd gen on the Amazon product site.

Below is from the Amazon product page also noting when I made the purchase #ad.

The 2nd Gen was much more aesthetically pleasing and modern chic looking. You could put different skins on it to make it coordinate your home better.

The height was smaller compared to 1st gen so it didn’t stand out as much. The volume control was no longer a rotating dial, something I miss, but by means of + and – buttons similar to the echo dot.

Below shows the technical details and the innards of the 2nd gen echo #ad.

It touted improved mic, speakers and subwoofers. However, my experience with the mic has been subpar. With my 1st gen, the success rate of summoning Alexa was very high. I don’t recall many instances where I had to repeat myself or feel like I am yelling over background noise to get the 1st gen echo to wake. With the 2nd gen, we’re constantly having to repeat ourselves. I’ve opened a ticket and worked with Amazon technical support and did different things such as factory reset and received a new echo but the issue remains.

Between 1st and 2nd Gen, the 2nd gen has an edge over its appearance but the 1st gen performs better overall.

The 2nd Gen is available at $99.99 on Amazon.com and 1st gen is available through Amazon warehouse deals for just under $70 per below #ad.

Talk to Pikachu with your Echo Device!

Many of us have little ones at our home and it seems we need to be more and more creative to keep them entertained. This week’s Amazon Echo weekly newsletter had a recommendation that caught my eye:

“Alexa, ask Pikachu to talk.”

I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect so I walked myself to my Amazon Echo and gave it a try. It first asked me if I wanted to enable the skill, which I did. Next came something a bit unexpected or maybe not. My Echo allowed me to engage into a conversation with Pikachu! If you were expecting Pikachu to say engage in a meaningful dialogue, you will be disappointed. If you are familiar with Pokemon, the pocket monsters, as they are called, only speak through various tone of their own monster type. In this case, your Echo will have the mic on during the conversation and Pikachu will respond in sequences of “Pika”, “Pikachu”, “Pikapika” and more. My kids got excited and brought their Pikachu toys over and played with it for about an hour.

Another way to make good use of my Amazon Echo!

Amazon update enables control of Fire TV Cube from any Echo device

My Fire TV Cube’s wake word is ‘Echo’ and my living room Echo’s work ware is ‘Alexa’. They are a mere 20 feet from each other and I frequently use the wrong wake word for the intended device. As long as I can remember since we’ve had the Fire TV Cube, we were only able to issue commands through the device itself. This has apparently changed.

Recently, I mistakenly summoned ‘Alexa’ to turn off the TV by mistake. Lo and behold, the TV turned off! We immediately noticed this and tried other commands for the TV such as changing the volume to changing the channels to the cable box and it all worked.

I’m not sure when this feature was rolled out. I read through the ‘What’s new with Alexa?” blog but didn’t notice anything. I may have missed it though.

Did you notice this update? What do you think?

The Alexa Voice Remote (2nd Gen) now works with Fire TV Cube

This is the remote that should have shipped with the Fire TV Cube. Amazon recently announced a new remote that supports power and volume on Fire TV Cube.

This way you can now control your TV’s power and volume using your Alexa Voice Remote. This comes in handy as our experience with using the Fire TV Cube has been mixed. There are times when voice commands work flawlessly but times where it doesn’t hear or react to the action word.

If you order the Fire TV Cube now, Amazon will now send the new generation Alexa Voice Remote which has the power button. But if you are like me who ordered the Fire TV Cube early, you will need to buy the new remote which is now available for $29.99..

Amazon also has a page dedicated to help you set up your Alexa Voice Remote – https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=G47P2QLV6DKLKA6P