Having trouble figuring out what next to say or ask Alexa? Welcome to the fourth monthly roundup where I whittle down July’s newsletters into 5 cool commands for Alexa.
In July, I covered a whopping total of 80 new or newly-promoted Alexa commands from Amazon, ranging from Smart Home integrations and language translations to timers and alarms in my weekly newsletter Keeping Up with Alexa. These commands work on Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Show, Fire TV, and other Alexa-enabled devices. The catch being not every command is worth using, as there are a handful of duds and entirely broken skills. Fortunately, I’ve outlined below a more manageable list to try of 5 cool commands for Alexa.
Speak Spanish and English
Good news for those who live in multilingual households. Alexa understands a combination of two different languages—and best of all—you don’t need to change the language settings in the Alexa App to get this feature. With the simple command, “Alexa, speak Spanish,” Alexa understands when you speak in English or Spanish. For instance, if you ask for today’s forecast in English, Alexa will respond in English; but if you ask in Spanish, Alexa will also understand and reply back in Spanish. The ability to switch between these two languages is a big benefit for those who use a mix of Spanish and English in their homes.
One major caveat to this ability is not all languages are supported for multilingual mode. Big thanks to readers Claudio, Alex, and Jess for the help in testing out other options. Turns out, Amazon rolled out multilingual mode only for English and Spanish (in U.S.), French and English (in CA), and Hindi and English (in India). But that’s not to say Alexa doesn’t know more languages. You can also set Alexa to speak a specific language via the Alexa App settings.
Make Translations Easier
Have you ever failed to remember a specific Alexa Skill name? With the ever-bulging marketplace, it’s easy to do. Fortunately, Amazon announced this month a new push to make Alexa Skill names less important. This means instead of always having to request specific skills to use, Alexa now tries to instinctively know what skill you’d like without being told.
The best example of this is with asking, “Alexa, how do you say ‘love’ in French?” Instead of the previous command that required you to request Translated, Alexa now responds with the translation from Translated: “‘Love’ in French is ‘amour.’” This change is subtle yet incredibly powerful as Alexa Skills become more natural to use. So natural, in fact, that you don’t even realize you’re using a skill.
Control Your Lights by Voice
While it’s not news to Alexa superfans, it’s still not widely known yet that Amazon’s Voice Assistant can turn on or off your lights with just your voice alone. Long gone are the days where you have to manually flip your light switch, as Smart Lights have the benefit of remote access and control. Once you’ve followed the device setup steps, you can simply say, “Alexa, turn on the lights.” And once you’re ready, the inverse command also works: “Alexa, turn off the lights.”
What’s even cooler to note is Alexa can also set your light color for you. Wanting a more mint green or lavender blush glow in your living room? If you have an Alexa-enabled Smart Light, Alexa can set it to these colors or 140 other light color names of your choice. This capability is ideal for setting the mood with your Smart Lights and overall making a more enjoyable experience with lights.
Wake Up Slowly with Lights
This month highlights two useful Smart Home integrations to make waking up in the morning easier… or at least more manageable. The first command involves using your Smart Lights with your alarm by saying, “Alexa, wake me up at 6 AM with bedroom lights.” With this command, Alexa slowly turns the light on starting from 10 minutes out from your alarm time. And by the time your alarm does sound, Alexa sets the light to 50% brightness. For those who like waking up more naturally, view the complete alarm setup to get started with this command.
Want to improve your alarm even more? Why not ask Alexa to set your alarm sound to a preferred playlist. For instance, simply say, “Alexa, wake me up to happy music,” to switch out the default alarm sound to upbeat songs instead. With both of these Alexa integrations, your morning wake-up routine is sure to get a boost.
Set Sleep Timers with Music
But wait, music integrations with Alexa don’t just end with alarms. Did you know you can also incorporate them with timers? This month, Amazon showcases a clever music command to incorporate into your bedtime routine. Instead of playing throughout the night, you can now ask Alexa to stop music at a specific time. For instance, try saying, “Alexa, stop playing music in one hour.” Once the hour is up, Alexa stops the music. What’s also great is Alexa won’t follow-up with any other pesky prompts, so this command is ideal for when you don’t want interruptions after the timer, like for when you’re sleeping or meditating.
If you’re new to timers and want a refresher, view timer commands to get started. As some readers have already noticed, it’s easy to get confused when you set a timer versus an alarm with Alexa. To check which you’ve set, simply say, “Alexa, show me my timers,” or ask, “Alexa, what are my alarms?” You can also see your active timers and alarms via the Alexa App.
That’s it for this month! To discover more cool commands for Alexa, view the full list of July’s 80 commands. Don’t see your favorite highlighted above? Drop a comment below and let’s compare.