Whether you call them hacks, easter eggs, or skills, there are a lot of useful, interesting or downright funny things that Amazon Echo units can do now. Which is good, because you need something to distract you from the fact that you’ve agreed to co-habitate with Skynet. We all know you can use them to play music, set timers when you’re cooking, do measurement conversions, or order a pizza, but there are quite a few things you probably didn’t know Alexa had hidden up her proverbial sleeve.
The Magic Door
The Magic Door doesn’t require much explanation other than to say that it’s basically a Choose Your Own Adventure book you play as a game through your Alexa device. Do you engage the troll? What’s down the garden path? Do you end up at the party for the princess? Will you take the boat across the sea? Do you head into the dark forest? Will you find the wizard? Only you can decide what to do once you tell Alexa to “open the magic door.” Is this Alexa skill going to get you to work on time, order you a pizza or help keep you in shape? Absolutely not. But it will be a solid evening worth of entertainment for a dinner party or a night with friends.
One of the biggest things that all the Amazon Alexa devices were missing until about a month ago was the ability to beam the same signal to multiple devices throughout your home or office. Now that Audio Groups and Multi-Room Music are here, that’s a thing of the past. Launch the Alexa app. Hit up the Settings section. Find Multi-Room Music. Create a group with all the Alexa devices you’d like music played on simultaneously. When you’re ready to go, just tell Alexa to play on the group name you setup. The only downsides of this DIY Sonos setup are that it doesn’t work with Spotify or Sirius and you can only add Echo devices to one group, but apparently Amazon is working on all these issues as we speak.
Yes, we’re acutely aware of the fact that you don’t need Alexa to give you even more reasons to believe that Chuck Norris is the most badass human being on the planet, but reminding yourself this way is way easier than trying to dig back into the internet of a decade ago. “A bulletproof vest wears Chuck Norris for protection.” “Chuck Norris can pick oranges from an apple tree and make the best lemonade you’ve ever tasted.” “Chuck Norris once broke a mirror over the head of a black cat while standing under a ladder… the next day, he won the lottery.” We won’t go so far as to guarantee that brushing up on ChuckFacts will get your next round paid for with your buddies at the bar, but it can’t hurt.
Seven Minute Workout
When you’re working from home, or lounging around on the weekend, it’s one thing to say you’re going to work out and another thing entirely to actually do it. The 7-Minute Workout might not mitigate all the damage you did to your midsection over the weekend with burgers and fries, but it’s still better than not doing anything at all. Most importantly, there’s an Alexa Skill for that! Tell your favorite AI what music you want to listen to, then tell her to launch the Seven Minute Workout and bask in the glory of a sweet workout while listening to your favorite workout tunes in the background. Enable
From Clarity to Porchlight, Alexa has more than a dozen different stock alarm sounds built in that will make waking up less painful than it has ever been before. But those noises are nothing compared to the Celebrity Alarm options you have access to when you open the app and select a noise manually. You’ll have access to the latest and greatest from people like Dan Marino, Alec Baldwin and Missy Elliott, but our favorite comes from the boys responsible for both Top Gear and The Grand Tour. If you’ve never jumped out of bed to the sound of Jeremy Clarkson screaming “WAKE UP! WAKE UP! WAKE UP! WAKE UP NOW!” you have no idea what you’re missing. (For the record, it’s sleep, but it’s still one of the best ways to get out of bed.)
If you’re anything like us, one Echo (or Dot or Show or anything else with Alexa built in) is never enough once you experience the Amazon Matrix. But what happens when you’re preparing one helluva meal in the kitchen and you need to let the rest of the fam know it’s ready? You just Drop In. That’s right, with the latest software updates you can Drop In to any Alexa devices in the house using another Alexa device or the Alexa app like a home intercom. Enable
Much like the Drop In functionality you just read about, the new Calling & Messaging functionality allows you to use any Alexa or the app as a device capable of calling & messaging anyone else on the planet–for free. Call your mom. Send a voice message to a friend. Let your better half know that you’ve been slaving away over a hot stove all evening. Sync up your contacts to the Alexa app using your phone, and you’ll be free to call or message anyone in your contacts list without ever having to use your hands. Enable
Only a few days ago, Alexa finally caught up to Google Home in one very key area–individual voice profiles. You will be absolutely amazed how much of a difference it makes in a multi-user household when you can get individually customized music options, flash briefings, and place orders based on who is talking to the lady that lives in the small black cylinder. No more locked Spotify accounts and screwed up music recommendations. No more orders placed without your consent. The feature is being slowly rolled out to users and requires some setup (check out the Amazon Help video), but once you get it you’ll be hearing her say your name in those sweetly sarcastic and digital tones. Enable