Welcome to LME’s 2/17/17 Alexa Fast Tips Friday. Originally I ran a weekly Freebie Friday feature, but it’s become increasingly difficult to find quality, Alexa-related freebies available to both Amazon US and Amazon UK customers. One thing I can give away that most of my readers seem to appreciate are quick and easy Alexa tips, so that will be my Friday feature going forward.
Some of these tips may be known to you already. Some may be things you learned about a while ago, then forgot. Even so, I hope this feature will regularly teach Alexa device owners something new and helpful about their devices.
1. Remember to wish Alexa a good morning every day to get a tip, joke, ‘this day in history’ factoid or other surprise.
2. Wondering if there might be an Alexa Skill to fulfill some function you want, but overwhelmed at the prospect of scrolling through all those thousands of Skill listings? You can do keyword searches in the Skills store on Amazon or the Skills tab in the Alexa app. For example, just today I was wondering which days would be national holidays here in the US this weekend for Presidents Day. Alexa can’t answer the question, “Is tomorrow a national holiday?” natively, but a search on keyword “holiday” in the Alexa Skills store turned up numerous skills, including one built specifically to tell you when US national holidays are observed.
Note to UK readers: I know there aren’t as many Alexa Skills for you as there are for US readers yet, but some recent Alexa developer tool improvements should spark much more Skill development in the UK.
3. Alexa can play streaming radio from literally all over the world. Just ask, “[wake word], play radio station [call letters].” You must specify the call letters, NOT the number on the dial.
4. If you own multiple Alexa devices, give them unique names in the Alexa app so that you can more easily distinguish between them and control them remotely. And speaking of controlling them remotely, don’t forget that this is a thing! For example: working late, but want to let your significant other at home know you’re thinking of them? Start their favorite song or playlist remotely.
5. Music isn’t the only thing you can get from Alexa’s TuneIn integration, there are also podcasts. Try browsing the listings on the TuneIn site to find talk, news, comedy, panel discussion and other podcast options. Once you know the name of the podcast, just say, “[wake word], play the [podcast title] podcast on TuneIn,” to hear the most recent episode.
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Got a Dot? With the iFox iF012 Bluetooth Shower Speaker (UK visitors click here), you can bring Alexa’s voice-controlled music, audiobook and Kindle book (books with Text To Speech enabled) playback into the shower or bath with you! Just pair it to your Dot via Bluetooth. Currently (as of 2/16/17) rated 4.5/5 stars across over 1,300 reviews and priced at $29.99.
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