Amazon’s Alexa-enabled Echo speaker is an established name in the home automation sector. First released in 2014, Amazon Echo has been available globally ever since, with the exception of some question, India included. It is now 3 years later in 2017, that the Echo range launched in India. Amazon has launched 3 products in India, the Echo Dot, Echo and Echo Plus.
All 3 products come with Alexa. Wondering who Alexa is? In a nutshell, Alexa is Amazon’s virtual personal assistant who lives inside the Echo. She also allows you to dictate commands, which she endeavors to follow diligently.
So, your wish is literally Alexa’s command. Here’s how she can make your life simpler:
- Voice command features, and corresponding skills/abilities
- Shopping, allowing you to order any product that is available on Amazon
- Calling cabs, without the need to use your phone
- Playing music, using Saavn, Amazon prime music
- Daily news, so you can have your daily news read to you
- Routines, allows you to command various Smart home actions with one single word/phrase, as well as has multitasking features based on scheduling.
The Amazon Echo range is compatible with a large number of devices, many of which are available in India. Listed below are some of them:
- Hubs: Zigbee wireless hubs
- Lights: Philips Hue
- Plugs/outlets/switches: WeMo smart plugs and switches
- Smart locks/cameras: August smart locks, Nest Cam indoor smart camera
- HVAC (Heating Ventilation Air Conditioning): Nest Smart thermostats
Now that you know exactly what Amazon Echo can do for you, as well as possible device integrations, let us look at how you should go about setting up your very own Echo device. Just make sure that you peruse the Getting Started guide before you begin. It provides you with vital information like an outline of Alexa’s usefulness.
1. Set your device up, using the Alexa app:
All Echo products are basically run using the Alexa app, which is downloadable for Android, iOS, and Windows. In order to set up your device, you must first get it configured with your WiFi information. It is only after connecting your phone to the device WiFi, that you can start using the Alexa app. You will then have to use the ‘settings’ on the app and connect to your own WiFi network. After having done all this, you are now finally ready to begin using the app.
2. Location is all-important:
When we talk about the proper positional placement of your Echo device, it is from the point of view of network connectivity. You need to make sure that the device is placed wherever your WiFi signal is strong. And you needn’t worry about it not hearing you because the Echo comes with a 7-microphone array, and noise cancellation along with 360 degrees omnidirectional audio. All this makes it possible for you to easily communicate with Alexa, from across the room or noisy conversations.
3. Go ahead, talk to her:
Alexa can control all the Smart devices in your home that it is compatible with. It can book your tickets, order your groceries, play music, tell jokes, and much more; but you need to make the first move. Alexa is programmed to respond to a wake-word which by default, is the word ‘Alexa’. This word can be changed in the settings, or as per your preference. Once you have summoned Alexa and synced your compatible devices, you can truly begin automating from your phone.
4. Select your music service:
Your Echo device can play music through apps like Saavn, & Amazon Prime Music. You will have to link your music service account with the device. Once this is done, all need to do is ask Alexa to play the song you want, scroll to next/previous, receive playlist suggestions, and much more.
5. Sync your calendar:
Many people have their entire work itinerary marked on their calendar. Despite having reminders, we sometimes forget notifications. Once the Echo is synced with your calendar, Alexa will always give you verbal reminders as per your schedule, making sure you never miss out on any tasks or meetings.
6. Customise the news with the Flash briefing:
You can ask Alexa to play flash briefing and she will give you the news brief of the day or hour. The echo has a default news service, but you can customize it to your liking and she will play news from all your subscribed channels.
7. Smart home, meet Alexa:
Today, there exist a number of devices that are compatible with Alexa and can be controlled through voice commands, as well as the Alexa app. All the compatible devices are listed as ‘skills’, and can be accessed in the settings of your app. You must then keyword search your device and upon finding it, initiate the sync process.
8. Voice purchasing precautions:
Alexa gives you the option to make purchases using your voice, by simply affirming your order. We, however, recommend that you apply safeguards to the entire process, for e.g. voice code activated digit lock. This ensures that no purchases are made without your knowledge.
Still having some trouble with the set-up process? No worries! Join Tom Hall, as he takes you through the basic setup and training, of both your device, as well as Alexa.
If you’re looking to know more about what you could use your Amazon Echo for, visit our ‘Practical Living’ section. Or check out our video review of the Amazon Echo https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pR66IgjOQaE&t=9s Make sure you don’t miss it, by signing up for our newsletter or liking us on Facebook.