How to use Amazon Alexa – Android Authority
Adam Molina / Android Authority
Amazon Alexa is the world’s most popular smart home platform, thanks to Amazon being the first to market with voice-controlled smart speakers — the Echo lineup — as well as a plethora of supported devices, services, and accessories. Here’s everything you need to know about how to use Alexa, such as what it can do, how to get started, and how to make use of some of its key features.
Read more: The best Echo speakers
Amazon Alexa is both a voice assistant and a smart home platform. You can ask Alexa to do things like control your smart home accessories, answer general knowledge questions, and play music, games, news, podcasts, and video. You can also set it up for shopping, audio and video calls, and automations that trigger actions and accessories based on conditions like sensor data or the time of day. To get started you need an Amazon account, an Alexa-compatible speaker or display, and the Alexa app for Android, iPhone, or iPad.
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Alexa features explained
Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority
It’s first worth clarifying that Amazon Alexa is both a voice assistant and a smart home platform. You ask Alexa to do things via compatible speakers and displays, and there’s a backend to which you link services and accessories. While you can technically use Alexa with just an Amazon account and the mobile app, you’ll be missing out on its true potential.
Here’s a list of some of the key things Alexa can do:
- Control Alexa-compatible smart home accessories (lights, locks, speakers, TVs, security cameras, etc.)
- Create condition-based routines (automations) for your home and more
- Deliver news, weather, traffic, and sports updates
- Answer general knowledge questions
- Play on-demand music, radio stations, and podcasts from linked services
- Stream supported video services (on Fire and Echo Show devices)
- Read audiobooks from Audible
- Play audio-based games
- Make audio and video calls (video calls require a compatible display with a camera)
- Send SMS messages to contacts with a phone number
- Set alarms and timers
- Create reminders and shopping lists
- Order products from Amazon
- Order food from supported delivery services
- Activate new features by enabling third-party “skills”
Note that feature availability will be dependent on what region you’re in and what services you’re signed up for. In the US for example, supported music, radio, and podcast services include:
- Amazon Music
- Apple Music
- Apple Podcasts
- TuneIn Radio
The situation is similar with video on Echo Show and Fire TV devices, though we should mention that native Echo Show support is severely limited, since only Fire devices can download custom apps. The main US services on Show devices are Netflix, Hulu, Prime Video, and Tubi — if you want to watch something like YouTube or HBO Max, you’ll have to do it through a Show’s Firefox or Silk web browsers. Thankfully, asking Alexa to play something on …….