Amazon's Alexa is one of the most popular digital voice assistants, and it can do a ton of things to help you throughout the day. Whether that is creating a shopping list, giving you the latest news or something else. But getting it set up and getting started with using Alexa can be a bit of a free for all, as it's hard to gauge what you should be doing first. So we're here to help. We'll walk you through setting up your Alexa speaker, signing into Amazon, finding new skills to use with Alexa and much more.
Setting Up Alexa On An Echo Device
First things first, you're going to need to download the Amazon Alexa app from the Google Play Store. You can also use the web-based version of Alexa, but the app is going to be easier to use for other things in the list below.
Once you have signed into the Alexa app with your Amazon account, you will want to swipe in from the left, and tap on "Add Device". This will allow you to add an Echo or another smart home product to your account. In this case, we want to choose "Amazon Echo". The app will then show all of the devices that can be setup. Select the device you are attempting to set up, then select "Continue".
The app will then walk you through the process of getting your Echo setup, this includes connecting it to WiFi. It's a pretty simple process, and once you're done, you'll be free to add skills and much more once you're done.
Setting Up A Third-Party Alexa Device
If you decided not to get a First-Party Alexa device like an Echo, and decided to get something like a Sonos One, Harman Kardon Allure or Bose Home Speaker 500, the process is a bit different.
With third-party Alexa devices, you will need to download the company's app to get it set up. For instance the Sonos app for the Sonos One. The app will get it set up and connected to WiFi, then ask you to connect it to your Amazon Alexa account. After that you're all set. The process does differ slightly depending on the device you are setting up.
Fine Tune Your Flash Briefing
One of the cool things about Alexa is that you can ask her for the news, and she'll read the latest news headlines to you. But, what makes this even better is the fact that you can actually fine-tune your flash briefing and decide which sources Alexa gives you news from.
To do this, swipe from the left and then tap on Settings. Then "Flash Briefing", which is the fourth item down under the Alexa Preferences section. From there you can choose which sources you want Alexa to read from. You can also choose the order that it reads in. Simply tap the "+" sign and you'll be directed to the different skills that you can enable.
Many of the more popular news sites are available in Alexa's Flash Briefing, including CNBC, NPR, Fox News, Reuters, The Wall Street Journal and more. Many local TV stations and newspapers also have their own skills available here, so you can get local news as well.
Add Your Favorite Music Streaming Service
Amazon Alexa is mostly found on smart speakers, so adding a music streaming service only makes sense. Contrary to popular belief, Amazon Music Unlimited is one of many that work with Alexa.
Setting up your music service is pretty simple. Again, swipe in from the left of the app and select Settings. Then tap "Music" which is the second option under the Alexa Preferences section. Then tap on the "+" sign to add your account. Alexa will send you to the music service you chose to login and give Alexa access to your account.
Amazon Alexa supports many music streaming services including Amazon Music, Apple Music, Deezer, SiriusXM, Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, TuneIn Radio, Pandora, TIDAL, Gimme and Vevo. These are all supported for streaming via voice commands. You can still stream music over Bluetooth (depending on the speaker you are using), if you're favorite music streaming service is not available.
Connecting Smart Home devices
One of the bigger features for Alexa, is the fact that you can use your voice to control different smart home products in your home. And that's the next thing to do on our list.
To get started, swipe in from the left side of the app and tap on skills and games. Then search for the company that made your smart home products. Like Philips Hue, LIFX, Nanoleaf, or Nest. From there you will want to select "Enable to use" which will enable the skill on your Alexa devices, and you will then be taken to link your account to Alexa. You'll have to repeat this for everything. Though, it's important to note that if you have many Philips Hue lights, you only need to enable the skill once to use all of them.
Now, you'll be able to tell Alexa to turn off the lights in your home, or a specific room, or even a specific light. You'll also be able to control your thermostat and much more.
Secure your Alexa Voice Purchasing
Being able to Ask Alexa to order something and then having it actually work, is pretty impressive. However, it is also pretty dangerous, especially if you have kids. So it's a good idea to turn this feature off on Amazon, so that you don't end up with a ton of paper towels that you didn't want to buy just yet.
To secure your Alexa Voice Purchasing, you're going to want to set up a PIN, or you can turn it off altogether. Simply swipe in from the left-side of the Alexa app, and then head into Settings. Tap on Alexa account and then voice purchasing. From there you have the option to turn off Purchase by Voice or you can set up a voice PIN. Both will work, but using a PIN means you can still use voice purchasing, but your kids won't be able to make purchases, which is a good thing.
Set up your Shopping List
Alexa does have a shopping list feature included, and you can easily add things to your shopping list using your voice, which is a really nice feature to have here. And with the Alexa app, you're going to have Alexa with you when you're at the grocery store, so you won't ever have to worry about forgetting the list.
To add things to your shopping list, simply say "Alexa add [insert item name] to my shopping list." And it'll be added to your list. It's just that easy. You can also create other lists, like to-do lists from within Alexa as well. All of which can be done with your voice. This can make things much simpler when you are cooking and realize you're out of oil, just have Alexa add it to your list and you're good to go.
Find New Alexa Skills
Unlike the Google Assistant, Alexa gets its new features in the form of "skills". Developers are able to create skills that you can enable on your account and have available for all of your Alexa speakers and other devices. So you'll want to peruse the Amazon Skills store to find out what's new and interesting to add to your Echo or other Alexa speaker.
Alexa has tens of thousands of different skills available. And this includes different news skills, games, food and drink and so much more. Amazon has put these into different categories to make it easier to find something for you to use.
There you have it. That's how easy it is to not only set up a new Alexa device, but also the first few things you should do once you get one. The possibilities for Alexa are truly endless, and you can do virtually anything you want with Alexa these days. From playing music, to controlling your smart home, to ordering pizza and even finding something to watch on Netflix.
Alexa is always getting new features from Amazon and different developers that are creating Skills for it as well. In fact, Amazon recently started rolling out new languages for Alexa. So it is always getting updated with new features. If there's something missing that you might want Alexa to have, it'll probably get it pretty soon.
Setting up Alexa is pretty easy to do, there's not much to it, as long as you can follow instructions. But giving some pointers on the first things to do once you get your Echo or other Alexa speaker set up can really go a long way, and help you get the most out of your brand new Alexa smart speaker. And that's something everyone can appreciate. If for some reason you don't already have an Alexa speaker, you can hit the link below and see all of the Alexa-compatible speakers available right now.