How To: Use Amazon Echo's Alexa Features You Didn't Know Exist

Amazon's Alexa-enabled lineup of Echo products has been growing at a steady rate in recent years and while the firm's AI companion isn't believed to be as technically versatile as the Google Assistant, it still supports a broad range of niche features and capabilities that can help streamline your everyday life to a significant degree. As many of them aren't highly advertised, below you'll find a list of functionalities that you possibly weren't aware of but are likely to find them to be extremely useful.

One of the most universally convenient features of the Echo-branded smart speakers is their ability to hail a ride from either Uber or Lyft. Simply download the skill of your ride-hailing service provider of choice and ask Alexa to "call a Lyft/Uber." Doing so will automatically notify your driver about your location and is by far the easiest way of hailing a ride. The convenience also doesn't stop with cars seeing how skills from travel companies like Kayak allow you to book flights and even plan your trips. In this particular scenario, you can tell Alexa to e.g. "ask Kayak which European countries I can visit for $1,000" or "ask Kayak to book a flight to Paris." In the same vein, you're able to plan and order cruise trips with your Amazon-made smart speaker.

While you probably already know you can tell Alexa to set up one or more alarms, note that this particular functionality also supports your favorite music. To take advantage of it, simply tell Alexa to e.g. "set an alarm to 'Work' by Rihanna" before specifying when exactly you want to be woken up. Speaking of entertainment, Alexa also supports various voice-enabled games; just ask it to "open Jeopardy" or "Heads Up" if you're looking to keep yourself occupied for a few minutes. A significant portion of Alexa's game selection also supports multiplayer, making Echo speakers suitable choices for casually socializing with friends. Furthermore, Alexa can help you stick to your diet regime, whether by dictating the number of calories found in certain food or entertaining you with funny motivational phrases supported by the "Talk Me Down" skill. If you prefer your AI companions to be enabling instead of telling you how to live your life, just use the assistant to order takeout from Amazon Restaurants, Pizza Hut, GrubHub, or a wide range of other food delivery services it supports. To learn more, ask Alexa to list its "top food delivery skills." Amazon's service can even facilitate the process of feeding your pets as it's integrated into smart feeders such as Petnet and Furbo. Enthusiastic tinkerers can also create their own Alexa-enabled pet feeders using a Raspberry Pi, with all assets allowing them to do so being available online.

If some of your friends or family members also own one or more Echo devices, you're able to quickly get in touch of them using Amazon's Calling & Messaging feature, so long as both of you have the functionality enabled under the "My Profile" section of the Amazon app for Android and iOS devices. Finally, Alexa is also capable of reading bedtime stories to your kids and has multiple skills that allow it to do so; just ask your smart speaker to download the "StoryTime" or "Short Bedtime Story" skill and ask it about its content library before deciding on the story you want it to read. What's more, you can even write your own stories and have the companion read them. If you want to explore other niche features of your smart speaker(s), just ask Alexa to list its "top skills" or "most popular skills" and the assistant will provide you with plenty of options. You can even refine such queries by asking for things like "top gaming skills" or "most popular news skills."

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About the Author
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Dominik Bosnjak

Head Editor
Dominik started at AndroidHeadlines in 2016 and is the Head Editor of the site today. He’s approaching his first full decade in the media industry, with his background being primarily in technology, gaming, and entertainment. These days, his focus is more on the political side of the tech game, as well as data privacy issues, with him looking at both of those through the prism of Android. Contact him at [email protected]
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