5 Cool Things Alexa Can Do

5 Cool Things Alexa Can Do

Still grappling with interesting things to say or ask Alexa? Welcome to the third monthly roundup of cool things Alexa can do. If you’re curious about the latest tips and tricks Amazon released for Alexa in June, look no further. 

This month, I reviewed 102 total Alexa commands that Amazon published—whether brand new, newly updated, or newly promoted. While duds are rare, weeding through this mammoth of a list is a daunting feat. Fortunately, I’ve taken the guesswork out of which Alexa command stands out from the rest, so you don’t have to. So go ahead, grab your Echo Dot, Echo Show, or other Alexa-enabled device and let’s learn five cool things Alexa can do.

Alexa Now Plays Music Everywhere 

If you’re a longtime user of Alexa, you already know Amazon keeps a steady beat of new music commands—whether it’s music playlists, sharing artist thoughts of the day, or adjusting smart speaker controls. 

While there are a lot to choose from, the best music command from June is for users who have multiple Alexa-enabled devices scattered throughout their home. Normally, when you start music with Alexa, you’re limited to listening with only one device at a time. So if you’ve ever walked into a neighboring room and wished the music you’re listening to could follow, this command is for you. Simply say, “Alexa, play music everywhere.” 

Once you give this command, Alexa plays music from the speaker group named “Everywhere,” which includes all devices you linked to Alexa. To learn more about tweaking your Everywhere group, view the steps in the Music section from June 29th

Also, this capability works with Audible audiobooks too. Use the command, “Alexa, play audible everywhere” instead.

Alexa Provides New Picks From Audible

Speaking of Audible, I uncovered a few new commands for audiobook lovers this month. While Amazon’s audiobook service has been around for a while, Alexa frequently gets new updates on what stories to recommend. 

To kick things off, try saying: “Alexa, what’s free from Audible?” This month features a book that is tied to Pride Month. While you’ll hear a short upsell on purchasing an Audible subscription, this book is entirely free to listen to. 

If that doesn’t hit the spot, Amazon also offers two more genre options to try out. For example, if you’re looking for more of a science fiction story, try the command: “Alexa, read me a Science Fiction from Audible.” While the story I got was more geared toward kids, it was a fun listen and didn’t require a paid subscription. 

Or, if you’re more like my wife who loves a good murder mystery (whelp, should I be worried?), try the command: “Alexa, read me a mystery.” Another cool thing Alexa can do with this story is respond to additional commands once it starts. To learn more, view the Audible section from June 1st.

Alexa Recommends Podcasts

Amazon Echo smart speaker CREDIT: AMAZON

Updated recommendation commands were big this month with some impressive updates for podcasts. While this ability isn’t new, the recommendations Alexa provides may be new to you.

Just say, “Alexa, recommend a podcast,” for Amazon’s Voice Assistant to get to work in offering you new options to consider. For instance, I’m a big fan of Flash Briefings and didn’t know of the podcast called “Up First” by NPR that was suggested after I gave this command. Since then, I’ve added it to my morning news to give it a shot.

Beyond general suggestions, Alexa also offers filtered recommendations based on the type of podcast you’re wanting. For instance, if you’re looking for more uplifting material, give this command a shot: “Alexa, play an inspirational podcast.” 

But, if you’re like me and would rather skip the risk of being paired up with a dud, try instead telling Alexa the name of the podcast you prefer. You can see a good example of this from the Podcast section from June 22nd. And whether you’re new to fatherhood, like me, or a veteran dad—this one is short, but certain to hit you right in the feels.

Alexa Competes For Better Conversations

Getting the most out of your Alexa-enabled devices requires learning—and often memorizing—Alexa commands. After all, that’s one reason why I love writing weekly and monthly roundups on commands that I think are worth your time. But let’s face it, Alexa’s, and all Voice Assistants, aren’t great conversationalists. The future of Alexa relies on becoming smarter with more human-like responses that are conversational instead of robotic in nature.

To that end, Amazon announced its new Alexa Prize competitors who will compete to create the best chatbot. The best part? We get to help with this competition by testing out each team’s chatbot and rating our conversations with Alexa. To get started, simply say, “Alexa, let’s chat.”

With this command, you’ll be paired up with a competing team’s socialbot and asked to engage with Alexa on a wide range of topics, such as: entertainment, sports, politics, technology, and fashion. In short, your goal is to have a conversation! For more background into the competition, check out the Alexa Skills section from June 15th.

Alexa Offers Daily Factoids 

Brain teasers is a favorite topic for Amazon when offering new Alexa capabilities. Whether the commands are built-in directly from Amazon or through third-party skills, Alexa responds with many different facts and stats. The catch is not all Alexa commands are created equal, as the niche is highly saturated with various command options.

Fortunately, there are two Alexa commands worth their salt this month. The first comes from an Alexa Skill and involves a daily trivia game. To start the game, simply say, “Alexa, start Question of the Day.” You’ll be provided different questions each day and offered stats on your progress, making it easy to share how well you’re doing with others. 

The second comes from Amazon directly and gives a glimpse into what Amazon considers to be a “fun” fact. To see what I mean, try the command: “Alexa, tell me a fun fact of the day.” The first time I tried this, I learned about a short story that involved stoning people. The second try involved Shakespear’s Globe Theater burning down. Boy, aren’t these topics fun!

London’s Globe Theatre, circa 1600 CREDIT: GETTY
London’s Globe Theatre, circa 1600 CREDIT: GETTY

For more cool things Alexa can do, view the full list of June’s Alexa commands. Don’t see your favorite command highlighted above? Drop a comment below and let’s compare.

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