I bought an Amazon Echo for our family a year ago. When Amazon first rolled it out, you had to get an invitation to buy one and then wait for them to finally get to you. Initially, only Amazon Prime members could buy them and we got them for $99, when they finally got enough in stock to send them out. Now, they’re up to $179 and I’d gladly pay that again. As a matter of fact, I just did. We bought one for my husband’s parents last month and they cannot stop talking about it, using it or showing it to their friends. Now all of their friends are buying one. Here’s why the Amazon Echo will become your next family member.
Have you ever heard the saying that a short pencil will beat a long memory every time? Well, it seems that when I need to make a note of something if I can find a pencil, I can’t find paper or vice versa. By the time I get those two things, I’ve forgotten that important thing that I needed to write down. The Amazon Echo (or Alexa as we call her) can remember it for you AND it’s as easy as pie…or simply saying, “Alexa, add pie to the shopping list.”
One of my favorite things is the Alexa/Amazon Echo app. Because we can add things to the list and see them while we’re out, if my husband is the one in the store doing the shopping, I can tell Alexa to add ice cream to the list and it will populate while he’s still in the store. Priorities, right? Don’t come home without that. It’s on the list!
You can even link Alexa to your Google calendar and say, “Alexa, add go to the pie factory at 3pm to my To Do list.” You know, the pie factory…or the dentist. Whichever. Basically, if you’re going to the pie factory a bunch, you’re also going to need the dentist. Even if you don’t use the Google calendar, my in-laws don’t, you can still use the To Do list on the Alexa app.
Sticking with this pie theme, say you want to hear a song. Ask Alexa to play, American Pie by Don McLean and she’ll crank out that tune for you if it’s available. She’ll play music from Prime Music, Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, TuneIn, your own music library (and more) and all you have to do is use your voice to ask her to play something. This is some futuristic George Jetson stuff and supremely cool.
The sound will surprise you because Alexa/Amazon Echo doesn’t take up much room. Yet, she’s got 360 degree omni-directional audio.
Not only will the Amazon Echo play music but it will give you the weather, news, play games, make jokes, help you spell words, do simple math, define terms, lookup information and even read to you. On the 4th of July, my kids and I were able to sit in our den and listen to John F. Kennedy read the Declaration of Independence through the Echo. I can’t even tell you how surreal and vivid that experience was, but we’ll never forget it.
Alexa saves us time. Besides the useful to-do and shopping lists, I find myself using the timer feature daily. I’ll set a timer for cooking, or a timer for cleaning (how fast can I do dishes…so I can get back to doing something I enjoy) or to remind me to place a limit on things I could do all day if I’m not careful (computer/tv/video games) so I can do something more productive so my brain doesn’t atrophy.
All that being said, the coolest thing we’ve done with the Amazon Echo lately is link the Echo with our home automation hub. We can control the lights in our house with simple voice commands like “Alexa turn on the kitchen lights”. Using IFTTT (If This Then That) we can even trigger the colored lights my husband installed over the mantel to flash our team colors when they score with a simple voice command. (More on that soon!)
In short, the Amazon Echo or Alexa as we call her, is one of the most innovative, modern and useful pieces of technology we’ve ever bought. She’s pretty much become a part of our family, with the way we depend on, talk to and appreciate her. With new features and skills being added often, she just gets better all the time.