New (Free) Feature: Alexa Guard Home Security System

Post Updated: 6/28/19 - Last December Amazon announced the new Alexa Guard home security system feature on an invitation-only basis for US Alexa device owners, but it's now available as a standard feature for all US users. Note that since I'm US-based, I can't test or verify feature availability in other regions. What Is Alexa Guard? When enabled, Alexa Guard keeps Alexa's microphones turned on...

New Feature: Apple Music Support

Post Publication Date: 12/14/18 - Yet another feature consumers have wanted from the beginning is set for release on Monday, 12/17: support for Apple Music. Readers outside the US: it's unclear whether this feature will be released internationally on Monday as well and since I'm in the US I can't test it myself. If the support isn't there on Monday, as with most Alexa features, it will most...

New Feature: Alexa Email Support

Post Publication Date: 12/11/18 - Amazon has quietly rolled out a new feature consumers have asked about for years: Alexa email support. Readers outside the US: as of this writing, it does not appear the new email feature is available for non-US Alexa device owners, but as with most Alexa features, it will most likely be rolled out to other regions after any wrinkles are ironed out here in the...

Three New Alexa Features: Pandora Premium, Wake on LAN and Alexa for PC

Post Publication Date: 11/27/18 - Those wizards at Amazon have been busy! This month they rolled out three new Alexa features: Pandora Premium support, Wake on LAN support and the new Alexa for PC Windows app.     Pandora Premium Up until this upgrade Alexa device owners could only access the standard, free Pandora service from their devices, even if they subscribe to Pandora Premium....

Alexa Fast Tips Friday: New Dock Turns A Fire HD 10 Tablet Into An Echo Show

If you've considered buying an Echo Show (UK readers click here) but want something more flexible and mobile, Amazon's got a new product you'll want to check out. The new Show Mode dock turns a Fire HD 10 tablet (UK readers click here) into an Echo Show.     Note that this device is currently only available for pre-order in the US (with a release date of 7/12/18), but it should be...

Alexa Fast Tips Friday: Alexa Fire TV Cube

The Alexa Fire TV Cube was announced and made available for pre-order in the US by Amazon yesterday, and deliveries of the device will begin on 6/21/18. For those who already have both Alexa and Fire TV devices, does this cube represent an upgrade? It depends on the rest of your home theater setup.     Note that this device is currently only being released in the US, but it should be...

Alexa Fast Tips Friday: Alexa, Press One

Publication Date: 5/25/18 - Great news for fans of Alexa's voice calling feature: Alexa can now handle automated, touchtone answering systems! You can now say things like, "Alexa, press one," to navigate voice menus! Note that as per usual, this feature is being rolled out to Alexa device owners in groups and the Alexa app update is being rolled out bit by bit as well. Those in the US who don't...

Alexa Fast Tips Friday: Block Explicit Songs From Amazon Music

Great news! Amazon's rolled out a feature parents have wanted ever since the first Echo shipped: the ability to block explicit songs from Amazon Music on Alexa devices.     Note that as per usual, this feature is being rolled out to Alexa device owners in groups and the Alexa app update is being rolled out bit by bit as well. Those in the US who don't yet have access to this feature...

Alexa Fast Tips Friday: New Alexa Remember Feature

Post updated 9/12/18 - Alexa reminders have been around for some time, but this week Amazon's begun rolling out a new feature that's similar, but serves a different purpose: the new Alexa Remember feature lets you use Alexa like a voice-only sticky note.     Note that as per usual, this feature is being rolled out to Alexa device owners in groups and the Alexa app update is being rolled...

Alexa Fast Tips Friday: Alexa Blueprints Let Consumers Make Custom Skills Without Programming

I'm publishing this week's Fast Tips Friday a day early because there's big news for US-based owners of Alexa devices: Alexa Blueprints. If you've ever wished you could make a custom quiz skill for things like: kids' weekly vocabulary word lists or SAT studying, a compliment generator with personalized compliments, a personalized fact skill to help a houseguest, babysitter or dogsitter know where...