Amazon Echo and Alexa Explained

Credit: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

You’ve likely heard of the Amazon Echo, a smart device that reacts to voice commands. It’s essentially a 9.5 inch-tall, slender cylinder-shaped speaker that can be set on a table or other flat surface.

Alexa is the artificial intelligence or AI that “lives” in the Echo. All you have to do is speak to Alexa and she’ll respond. Instead of some weird voice, she sounds far more natural than what you would expect. It’s like having another person in your house, only she lives to serve you.

That might not sound revolutionary, but Alexa is deceptively useful. If you decide to buy an Echo, Alexa will become your new best friend. Her voice recognition is far better than Siri’s, so you don’t have to repeat yourself over and over or say things really slowly while annunciating each syllable. Instead, you can speak pretty much how you normally do.

When it comes to functionality, the Echo can already do quite a few things. Through the voice commands, you can start streaming music of your choosing, get the latest weather/news updates, even create a shopping or to-do list. You can even set reminders and alarms so you don’t leave the house late or forget to bring the cat in at night.

Do you usually go to Google on your phone when you’re wondering about something? Instead of digging the device out of your pocket, just speak up and ask Alexa the question, then get a verbal reply. Instead of there being a lag between your questions and the replies, Alexa is incredibly quick to answer.

The usefulness of the Amazon Echo skyrockets if you have other smart devices in your home, as long as they’re compatible, which quite a few are. Once everything is connected, all you need to do to check the door locks, dim the lights, switch the slow cooker to low, etc. is call out to Alexa. It’s incredibly convenient since you don’t have to get out your phone, tablet or computer, let alone walk around and check on different items.

If you’re like most people, Amazon is a go-to for at least some items. When you already know what you need, like laundry detergent or other products you buy regularly, you don’t have to get on the website. Instead, you can place an order through Alexa.

If you’re particularly adventurous, you can use the Echo to check out the latest fashions or other trends, then choose which one you want to have delivered. When you have no idea what you might like, Alexa can use your past purchases and browsing history on Amazon to make an educated guess about what you’ll enjoy. It’s the easiest shopping experience out there.

After having Alexa in your life for a few weeks or even days, you might not be able to continue on without her. Not only can she help with everything listed out above, you can ask her to tell a joke or story, making her a separate form of entertainment.

Bringing the Amazon Echo into your home will transform everything for the better.

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