What is Alexa?
Before we get into all of the cool things Alexa can do – what even is Alexa? Alexa is a voice assistant on Amazon’s Echo devices. Voice assistants are easy to use and access because users can make commands by just using their voice. However, Alexa differs from other voice assistants on the market, such as Google’s Assistant and Apple’s Siri. This is primarily because it can access more applications and integrate with innovative smart home technology. Overall, making Alexa the perfect assistant for your everyday needs.
Alexa helps make daily tasks easier. Such as checking the weather, playing music, or answering questions by accessing the internet. But did you know that Alexa is capable of doing so much more? Let’s take a look at the top coolest things Alexa can do that you should know about if you have or are thinking about getting an Alexa device.
Cool Things Alexa Can Do
1. Emergency Contacts
In certain situations, it can be difficult to reach for a phone to call for help. With Alexa, you can simply ask, “Alexa, I need help!” and Alexa will call your emergency contact. This is perfect for those non-emergency situations where you need help from a neighbor, family member, or whoever your emergency contact may be. Setting up an emergency contact on Alexa through the Alexa App is simple and easy to do.
To learn how to set up an emergency contact on Alexa, check out our recent ‘Ask Laura’ webinar for step-by-step instructions: How to Add an Emergency Contact to Your Alexa Device.
2. Drop In
Alexa Drop In is a unique feature that Alexa has if you want to video call a friend or family member at any time. Or, if you have multiple Alexa’s in your home, you can make announcements and Drop In on any device.
Drop In has many benefits, but we believe it is a cool thing Alexa can do because you can Drop In on your aging loved ones. We see Alexa as an excellent tool for seniors who want to age in place safely. If your elderly loved one is not picking up their phone and you are worried about their whereabouts, you can use Drop In to call them in their home immediately. Suppose both you and your aging loved one have an Alexa device with a screen. You can have access to their camera to look around the room Alexa is in.
3. Enable Reminders and Notifications
Are you a forgetful person with multiple post-it notes and calendars, or want to make planning easier? Let me introduce you to the next cool thing Alexa can do. You can set reminders and notifications directly through Alexa or the Alexa App. Ask her to remind you to take medications, go to doctors appointments, wish someone a happy birthday, and so much more. You can make these notifications recurring or single reminders.
4. Linking Skills
Similar to how your smartphone or computer has apps, Alexa has Alexa skills. These skills enable Alexa users to link messaging, music, news, reading, and other accounts to their device. There are a ton of great skills that we recommend, but here are some that we found to be useful and easy to use:
Speak2 Family is a skill on Alexa that changes how aging adults connect with their screen-obsessed friends, family, and caregivers. Speak2 allows people to send and receive messages, manage reminders and activities, consume information, and gain assistance in the most natural way possible. Aging adults communicate by speaking to the Alexa device. Meanwhile, their friends, family, and caregivers communicate by text or voice message through the Speak2 Family App on their mobile devices. Whether by voice, app, web, or assistive smart technology, Speak2 brings people together.
To learn more about the Speak2 Family skill on Alexa, click here.
One of the most popular ‘asks’ on Alexa is to play music. Skills that you can download and use to listen to music include, but are not limited to, Apple Music, SiriusXM, and Spotify. When activated with your Apple Music, SiriusXM, or Spotify account, these skills enable you to listen to different radios, genres, podcasts, and/or your song of choice.
Audible is an audiobook and podcast skill on Alexa. With Audible, you listen to any book you want at any time and start right where you left off. This is great for readers who want to listen to a book or podcast while cooking, cleaning, working out, or relaxing!
To learn the steps to set up Audible on your Alexa, click here.
5. Smart Home
Alexa is most commonly known for its ability to integrate with smart home technology. Having the ability to control your home with voice commands opens up the opportunity to keep your home safe, improve accessibility and mobility in your home, and more. Here is a list of some of our favorite smart home products that integrate wonderfully with Alexa:
Smart Light Bulbs
Smart Light Bulbs can be used with any of the Amazon Alexa Devices. With these light bulbs, users can easily turn on/off lights with their voice. For instance, if a senior needs to walk to the bathroom or downstairs in the middle of the night, they can say, “Alexa, turn on the lights.” Therefore, instead of walking in the dark and turning on/off a switch from across the room – possibly risking a fall – you can ask Alexa!
Echo Flex Plug
Amazon Echo Flex is an Echo device that is used on its own or with any Alexa device to add voice control to outlets. These devices can add voice control to fans, lamps, appliances, and other plug-in tools. In addition, this device is perfect for small spaces and even comes with the ability to attach an automatic night light, making it perfect for bathrooms, bedrooms, or small hallways. The Echo Flex is a good aging in place technology because seniors can control devices too high or low to reach and appliances with complex switches and small on/off buttons.
Ring Video Doorbell
The Ring Video Doorbell can be paired with any Alexa device to notify the user when someone rings the doorbell or detects any motion from the front door. With the Ring Video Doorbell, homeowners will be able to talk to those at their front door by simply saying, “Alexa, talk to the front door.” This smart doorbell system is especially beneficial to seniors looking to age in place because Alexa will provide an extra sense of security for seniors and their families.
6. Games & Trivia
There are many cool things Alexa can do. From updating you on the news, telling you the weather, and keeping your home safe – but it can also help you have fun! Alexa has entertaining games and trivia for all ages. In fact, you can even play games by yourself or with a group of people. Here is a list of some of our favorite games and trivia to play on Alexa:
Want more skills? Check out our top 15 favorite skills here!
7. Flash briefing
Flash briefing is a feature that pairs with news and content media Skills. This feature is perfect if you want snippets of information, tips, or inspirational quotes. You can use flash briefings on Alexa skills like traditional news channels (CNN, Fox News, BBC, NPR), entertainment, weather, finance, and random facts.
To set up flash briefings, go to your Alexa App and click ‘More.’ Then, scroll down and select ‘News’ under ‘Alexa Preferences.’ To customize your flash briefing, select ‘Edit’ then ‘Add’ ‘Content.’ There, you will be able to pick the skill of your choice to start your flash briefing!
8. Managing lists
Making lists for the food store has never been easier with Alexa, especially if you keep your Alexa in the kitchen. Using voice command, you can tell Alexa to create lists that will immediately appear on your Alexa App. In short, this is perfect for those who constantly forget to bring their paper list with them!
What if you want to create multiple lists? That’s easy with Alexa. All you have to do is tell Alexa which list you are adding your items to.
Which cool thing on Alexa are you going to try first? Let us know on social media or comment below!