5/26/17 Alexa Fast Tips Friday

Welcome to LME’s 5/26/17 Alexa Fast Tips Friday. You may have heard some of these weekly tips before, but hopefully, at least one will be totally new and helpful to you.

Please note: not being in the UK myself I can’t test any of these tips for UK Alexa users. If the functionality isn’t there yet, it should be coming to you soon.


Leaving Work On Friday


1. DISH video service support: it’s a thing in the U.S. now!
I didn’t find any reference to this in the Amazon UK help pages, so I assume it’s a US-only thing at this point. I’m not a DISH subscriber so I can’t test it myself, but Amazon provides an entire help page about it here if you want more information.

Encouragingly, that page is entitled Set Up Alexa Video Skills, which would seem to imply support for other video service providers is coming.


2. Setting a PIN for Alexa purchases may not be enough, if people you don’t trust have access to your Alexa device(s).
In the Alexa app, if you go to Settings > Voice Purchasing, in the ‘Require confirmation code’ section Amazon warns that “this spoken code appears in your history.” In other words anyone who knows how to access Alexa interaction history for your Alexa devices could, if they wanted to, scroll through that history to find the last voice order you placed. If they did this, they would see the PIN you spoke.

For example…let’s say you’ve got a tech-savvy teen at home who thinks she can slip a videogame purchase past you. If that kid can access your phone or tablet and you’ve left the Alexa app logged in there, the kid can follow a few links to view your history and get your PIN. Similarly, if you regularly access the Alexa web app on your computer and the kid has access to that computer, it’s the same story because the web app can stay logged in for weeks at a time unless you purposely log out after each use.

However, it’s important to remember that these are the only ways others can access your Alexa history. No one can simply install a copy of the Alexa mobile app, or access the web version of the Alexa app, and use it to view history for your Alexa devices. For that, they would have to know your Amazon password and connect the app to your Alexa devices using that password.


3. You can enable confirmation tones for your Alexa interactions.
This is very useful for the vision-impaired, or for those who aren’t often within sight of their Alexa device and want a way to be sure Alexa has heard them and is about to reply. The two tones are separate: one for the start of your spoken request to let you know Alexa has woken up and is listening, another for the start of Alexa’s spoken reply to let you know Alexa heard you and will respond.

You can turn on either one or both in the Alexa app by going to Settings > {device name} > Sounds, and scrolling down to the Request sounds section.


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