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Keeping Up with Alexa Commands: November 2020

    Welcome to the November roundup of things to ask Alexa. Keep up with Alexa by learning new things to ask Alexa. Each week, Amazon tells us about 20 commands in their newsletter. However, many of those commands are duplicates, old commands, or just simply not interesting. Finding the diamonds in the rough is time consuming, especially if you keep up every week. But not for me.

    After years of working on Alexa and Siri, I love keeping up with the latest features these voice assistants can do.

    This newsletter, I’ve picked out the most interesting commands from the 83 commands Amazon gave us in November, a bit less than October. The vast majority are duplicates from previous months and not worth your time to review again. Out of that 83, I managed to uncover 11 this month that are worth a second take.

    If you’re new to this series, check out the 426 things to ask Alexa on your Echo or other Alexa-enabled devices from previous newsletters. If you want to stay up to date, sign up for the newsletter and I’ll let you know when the next post goes live.

    With the introductions out of the way, let’s check out the most interesting commands from November.

    Table of Contents

    Things to Ask Alexa

    “Alexa, happy birthday”

    Alexa was launched on the original Echo way back in November 2014. Which also makes Alexa 6 years old.

    But sadly, this command isn’t very interesting. When I use this command, Alexa just tells me “thanks”, and that the actual birth day was November 6th.

    Pretty boring… but to be fair, I bet Alexa has a more clever response if I asked on the day of.

    Next year, I’ll give that a shot. Everyone, put November 6th on their calendars for next year.

    “Alexa, play Alexa’s Birthday playlist from Amazon Music”

    Alexa Birthday playlist

    Continuing the birthday theme, Amazon also released a playlist to check out. Looking at the track list, it feels like a lowkey party playlist from the 80s/90s.

    Find the track list on Amazon.

    “Alexa, play the podcast The Veterans Chronicles”

    Veterans Chronicles Podcast

    You know what’s odd? Amazon doesn’t have a way to search for Podcasts to find info. Searching for this podcast on Amazon comes up with everything but the podcast itself.

    Either way, The Veterans Chronicles is a podcast that gives a voice to veterans. Here you’ll find stories from veterans from the US armed forces.

    Take a look if you are curious as to what it’s like to be in the military. You’ll be able to find some impressive stories for sure.

    “Alexa, how do I connect my Arlo doorbell?”

    Skip this one. It’s not useful.

    All that really can be learned from this command is Alexa supports Arlo Doorbells, not just Ring, which is owned by Amazon these days.

    When I use this command, Alexa says to open the Alexa app and tap on smart devices. That’s all.

    “Alexa, open This Day in History”

    Here’s a skill I haven’t heard of before. This Day in History sounds like a skill I would really enjoy. Each day, the skill promises to have new historical events to tell you about.

    When I use this command, Alexa tells me about the missing Flight 19 from 1945. After giving me a summary, Alexa asks if I want more info or to hear about another event. Getting more info provides some more context about what happened.

    Pretty cool. If you’re ever curious about historical events, but short of time, give this command a go.

    “Alexa, tell me a light bulb joke”

    I got a surprise from this command. Who would’ve thought to expect an engineering joke to pop up? Not me.

    Here’s Alexa’s joke for me:

    How many software developers does it take to change a lightbulb?

    One to screw it in
    One to write the doc for the retrospective 
    One to complete the wiki for the following iteration

    A bit of a low blow to Scrum there, Amazon. But fairly true.

    “Alexa, play the new Amazon Holiday Originals from Amazon Music”

    Holiday Originals Playlist

    This might be the most useful command for the month with Christmas around the corner. Already in my house, I’ve been looking to play a bit of holiday music. Instead of searching around on Spotify, check this playlist out instead.

    “Alexa, what is the Care Hub?”

    So what is the Care Hub? Let me save you the trouble. The command itself doesn’t give a ton of info.

    If you have an older loved one, this feature may help you and them out while keeping everyone safe. By using this feature, you can access some of the info of your loved ones devices, like their activity feed. The main idea is to see that your family members are doing something with Alexa, rather than tell you exactly what that something is. Also you can get notifications when they ask Alexa for help, for example.

    “Alexa, tell me a turkey burn”

    Ah a Thanksgiving joke. Well, now is the time after all.

    The turkey was so crunchy…
    It was served in a yurt.

    If you like me, let me save you the trouble of looking this one up. Still, I must be missing something. Do you get it?

    “Alexa, open Endel”

    This one has a clever, but generic, sounding name. Any guesses as to what this skill does?

    Turns out, this skill gives you ambient noise, like many others on Alexa.

    “Alexa, ask The Writer’s Almanac for the latest talk”

    Our last command this week is related to the skill, The Writer’s Almanac. Using this command, you’ll get the latest episode from the podcast with the same name.

    Every day, this podcast puts out a new talk with a short piece of poetry.


    So ends November’s review. Stay tuned for next month’s review in a few more weeks. Let me know in the comments if you learned about some other cool command this month. Expect next month to be a bit slower with the holidays. It might take me a bit longer to get December’s post up and running.

    Like always, sign up for my email list if you want to get notified when the next post goes live.

    Full list of 83 November Commands

    Here’s the full list of things to ask Alexa that Amazon highlighted for November.

    Alexa, add ‘call with Sarah’ to my calendar today at 4 PM

    Alexa, ask Headspace for today’s meditation

    Alexa, ask The Writer’s Almanac for the latest talk

    Alexa, call Sam Smith

    Alexa, check my email

    Alexa, compute to the last digit the value of pi

    Alexa, donate to (RED)

    Alexa, fire photon torpedoes

    Alexa, give me holiday gift ideas

    Alexa, happy birthday

    Alexa, how do connect my Arlo doorbell?

    Alexa, how do you say ‘happy birthday’ in Spanish?

    Alexa, how’s traffic to the airport?

    Alexa, introduce me to Samuel L. Jackson

    Alexa, let’s have fun

    Alexa, let’s party

    Alexa, move my 2 PM meeting to 4 PM

    Alexa, navigate to the closest open pharmacy

    Alexa, open Big Sky

    Alexa, open Endel

    Alexa, open Fan Sounds

    Alexa, open My Daily Mindset

    Alexa, open Nature Sounds

    Alexa, open Rain Sounds

    Alexa, open Rainforest Sounds

    Alexa, open Sleep Sounds

    Alexa, open The Division Network

    Alexa, open This Day in History

    Alexa, open Whale Sounds

    Alexa, play a classical playlist

    Alexa, play Alexa’s Birthday playlist from Amazon Music

    Alexa, play Are You Smarter

    Alexa, play holiday music everywhere

    Alexa, play King of the Hill on Hulu

    Alexa, play MLB highlights

    Alexa, play music everywhere

    Alexa, play music for meditation

    Alexa, play nature sounds

    Alexa, play Pop Culture on Amazon Music

    Alexa, play the new Amazon Holiday Originals from Amazon Music

    Alexa, play the news

    Alexa, play the podcast The Veterans Chronicles

    Alexa, play white noise

    Alexa, play Who Wants to Be a Millionaire

    Alexa, read me a Science Fiction from Audible

    Alexa, recommend a health podcast

    Alexa, recommend a news podcast

    Alexa, recommend a science podcast

    Alexa, reorder cat litter

    Alexa, reorder dog treats

    Alexa, reset the equalizer

    Alexa, set a 30 minute sleep timer with bedroom light

    Alexa, set a sleep timer for 30 minutes

    Alexa, set an alarm for 6:30 AM to Old Town Road

    Alexa, set the background to my photos

    Alexa, show me featured movies on Tubi

    Alexa, show me featured shows on Red Bull TV

    Alexa, sing a lullaby

    Alexa, speak faster

    Alexa, speak Klingon

    Alexa, stop playing music in one hour

    Alexa, talk to the front door

    Alexa, tell me a coffee joke

    Alexa, tell me a joke about jazz

    Alexa, tell me a light bulb joke

    Alexa, tell me a story about robots

    Alexa, tell me a turkey burn

    Alexa, tell me the joke of the day

    Alexa, tell me when there’s a severe weather alert

    Alexa, turn up the bass

    Alexa, what are my deals?

    Alexa, what are my deals?

    Alexa, what are you thankful for?

    Alexa, what can I make with spinach?

    Alexa, what does Billie Eilish miss most about touring?

    Alexa, what is the Care Hub?

    Alexa, what is the S&P average today?

    Alexa, what’s on my calendar?

    Alexa, what’s the humidity?

    Alexa, what’s today’s date?

    Alexa, what’s up?

    Alexa, when does the closest grocery store open?

    Alexa, where’s my Domino’s order?

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