Alexa Tips and Tricks: April 2020

Welcome to the first monthly roundup of what’s new with Alexa. If you’re curious about the latest tips and tricks you can do with Alexa in April 2020 and getting more out of Amazon’s Voice Assistant, then you’ve come to the right place! 

In April, we saw a total of four Amazon newsletter releases consisting of new–or newly promoted–Alexa commands. Collectively, there are 83 total features to try out. While that number alone may sound daunting, I’ve compiled the top five features below so you can quickly and easily get the most out of your Amazon Echo, Echo Show, Fire TV, and other Alexa-enabled devices. 

Want a more thorough look of all 83 commands? Be sure to check out the weekly in-depth reviews here: April 3rd Review, April 10th Review, April 17th Review, April 24th Review

Best Alexa Commands from April

Get the latest on Coronavirus from Alexa

April consisted of social distancing with measures in place to limit the spread of Covid-19. The result? Many of us stayed home. Amidst this global pandemic, Amazon offered to help with its newest informational commands for Alexa. 

If you’re wanting to skip through the noise and get right into Coronavirus news, simply say, “Alexa, give me an update on Covid-19.” By using this command, you’ll receive recent news on the pandemic and a timestamp when the news was published. The major upside is you won’t get pulled into listening through the full news cycle, but still receive a quick update on what’s currently happening. 

Or, if you’re feeling sick and want a quick gut check on if your symptoms are related, say, “Alexa, what do I do if I think I have COVID-19?” By using this command, Alexa starts a dialog with you regarding the list of symptoms provided by the CDC to help you determine if you have the virus or not. 

Listen to a wide variety of white noise using Alexa Skills 

Whether you like to fall asleep to the peaceful rhythms of nature, the repetitive hum of appliances, or the bustle of metropolitan commotion, Alexa has you covered. 

Each week, Amazon alerted us to the growing marketplace of Alexa Skills for ambient noise, which is the most popular category by far. The commands listed below all turn your Echo or other Alexa-enabled device with a speaker into a White Noise Machine where it plays a soundtrack until you ask it to stop. 

“Alexa, open Rain Sounds” (my personal favorite)
“Alexa, play Nature Sounds”
“Alexa, open Fan Sounds”
“Alexa, play Ocean Sounds”

You can also get a broader list of different sleep sounds available by saying, “Alexa, open Sleep Sounds.” 

What’s also worth mentioning is that while these Ambient Sound Skills are free, Amazon and Alexa Skill owners will take the opportunity at some point to try and upsell you to a paid version. Learn how to dodge this by creating your own playlist–more in the Alexa Skills section on April 10th. 

Cook your next meal by using recipes from Alexa

Do you ever have a specific ingredient on hand but aren’t sure what to do with it? Or do you ever get tired of using the same recipe–after all, there’s only so much you can do with chicken, right? 

This month, Alexa donned her apron to help you out in the kitchen. If you’re needing recipe recommendations, say, “Alexa, what can I make with carrots?” With this command, you’ll get a dish recommendation from the Food Network. Not feeling carrots? You can also say, “Alexa, what can I make with chicken and spinach?” This time, she’ll offer a recipe from Buzzfeed’s Tasty. 

What’s more, Alexa is the only Voice Assistant to offer this level of inspiration, as asking what to do with carrots with Siri or Google Assistant will leave you hanging. 

Set notes and easily filter based on content using Alexa

Alexa’s ability to understand your notes is really impressive. Is your driver’s license up for a renewal soon? Or, do you have a nephew’s birthday coming up? Easily set up notes with Alexa and then have her do all the heavy lifting with sorting through content.  

By saying, “Alexa, make a note… [say your note + date],” Alexa will create a note for you in the Alexa App and ask if you’d like to be reminded on the day. What’s even more powerful is the follow-up potential of your note. You can then ask, “Alexa, when is [your note] in my notes?” This command will have Alexa retrieving the date. 

For a complete walk-through of setting this up, check out the Productivity section on April 17th

Make Alexa whisper to you 

If you’re like me and use an Echo Dot in your bedroom, you likely have had Alexa wake up your spouse or sleeping kids by now. Her piercing voice can be jarring, especially at night.

Fortunately, Amazon has you covered with the new Whisper Mode. Simply whisper to Alexa to activate this feature or say, “Alexa, turn on whisper mode,” for her to not only lower the volume of the device itself, but also whisper back after you say a command. 

What’s more impressive is the competition doesn’t have a feature like it. When I whisper to Siri and Google Assistant, both blare out a response back at full volume. So go ahead, give whispering to Alexa a try and let me know what you think.

2 thoughts on “Alexa Tips and Tricks: April 2020”

  1. Really disappointed with your list, as none of these things are new.
    I hope you will do better next month, as I/we do like to keep up on Alexa’s improvements in our home.

    1. Hey N8, First of all, thanks for the comment! All commands are collected from Amazon’s April newsletter. Some are new (re: covid) while others are newly-promoted by Amazon with minor tweaks made. Hope you’re able to tune in next month for May’s recap.

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