Amazon Echo: The first things to try this Christmas

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Amazon Echo is super popular this Christmas, so it’s safe to say that there’ll be plenty of excited children and puzzled parents trying to figure out Alexa-equipped kit this year.

The best way to embrace new tech is to jump right in, so why not let Alexa run your home this holiday? We take a look at how this little speaker can seamlessly integrate into your household and give you the best Christmas holiday yet…

Wake up

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While the holidays are at a time for catching up on the sleep cruelly snatched from you during the working week, at some point you’ll probably need to be up before lunchtime.

Luckily, Alexa can set alarms - just tell it the time you want to wake up and it’s done. If you’ve had a stressful week and need a few more minutes, you can always snooze it with little more than a grunt.

Alexa...

  • Set an alarm for 7 am
  • Snooze for 3 hours
  • Set a repeating alarm for 8 am

Music throughout your home

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Once you’re awake, there’s no better way to get a much needed injection of enthusiasm for the day than with music. Echo works with Spotify, Prime Music, and plays anything uploaded to your Amazon account from iTunes.

If you’ve got a Bluetooth speaker or a multi-room setup like Sonos, you can motivate the whole house too. To get started, search for the ‘Sonos’ in the Alexa app on your phone, install the skill, and follow the instructions).

Alexa…

  • Play my morning playlist
  • Play All I Want for Christmas
  • Play Napalm Death

Hands free calling

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Speak to family, reconnect with past friends, call in sick to work after a day on the Advocaat - whoever you need to call this festive season, why put yourself out by holding the phone to your ear?

When you open the app on your phone, your contacts should sync automatically. Just make sure you ask to call the person by their name in your phone book.

Alexa…

  • Call ‘Natalie’
  • Call ‘Mum’
  • Call ‘That bloke that sells pies on the market’

At the moment, you can only make calls to other Alexa devices or to mobile phones with the Alexa app installed.

However, Alexa users in the US can call any phone number, so it’s only a matter of time before this update reaches us here.

Ask a question

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Life is full of questions: Why are we here? What is reality? Do I need I need a jumper today?

Alexa answers most questions quickly and accurately (providing you aren’t in the middle of an existential crisis). Ask about the weather, maths problems, what Zack from the Saved by the Bell is doing now - anything that peaks your interest.

Alexa…

  • When is Coronation Street on today?
  • Why is the sky blue?
  • What time does the sun come up today?
  • How much is £100 in Croatian Kuna?
  • Wikipedia ‘Lancaster Bomber

Food & drink

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If cooking isn’t your strong point, or you fancy learning something new, Alexa can read recipes for meals and cocktails while you make them. You can use it to set timers, add things to your shopping list, and even ask what meal you can make with leftovers or a nearly bare cupboard.

To get started, just search for ‘All Recipes’ in the Alexa app.

Alexa…

  • Ask All Recipes what I can make with turkey and Advocaat?
  • Ask All Recipes for a vegetarian lasagne recipe
  • Ask All Recipes for a slow cooker recipe for beef stew
  • Set a timer for 10 minutes
  • How do I make a Tom Collins?
  • What is the calorie content of beef dripping?

Get some exercise

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Smashing a full selection box for breakfast is certainly in the spirit of Christmas, but it won’t do your waistline any favours.

What will, however, is a quick daily 7workout.  Designed to help you shed weight and feel more energetic, 7-Minute Workout is an exercise you can do it every day wherever you are.

To give it a go, search for ‘7-Minute Workout’ in the Alexa app. There are other apps to take your through Yoga and different workout, so it’s worth searching the skills

Alexa…

Start 7-Minute Workout

Control your TV

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If you watch TV using Amazon Fire TV, you can control it using your Echo (great if you’ve misplaced the tiny remote again).

You can search for shows and genres, play your favourite programs, and search within apps like Netflix.

Alexa…

  • Watch Fireman Sam
  • Play ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’ on Netflix
  • Play
  • Pause
  • Rewind 20 seconds
  • Watch from beginning

Listen to a good book

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The holidays are great time to catch up on your reading, so run a bath, get comfortable, and ask Alexa to read you an audiobook.

To do this, you need an audio book compatible app on your phone, like Audible or Kindle.

Alexa…

  • Read ‘A Business Engagement’
  • Play the audiobook ‘The Millionaire’s Proposition’
  • Stop
  • Next/previous chapter
  • Resume my book (continues from where you last stopped)

Get a good night's sleep

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If you live on a noisy street and are struggling to sleep, or need a few minutes peace from the carnage of a family Christmas, Alexa can play soothing relaxation sounds to help your unwind.

It’s done using an app called Sleep Sounds - just search for it in the Alexa app to make it available.

Alexa, open Sleep Sounds

  • Play rain
  • Play random
  • Wind chimes
  • Play car ride
  • List sounds
  • Stop

Hopefully this is enough to get you started with Alexa.

If you want to talk to us about anything, you can contact us here.

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