Amazon Alexa & Amazon Echo
What’s it all about?
Smart home technology isn’t always that easy to undestand, which is why many people still don’t know much about Amazon Alexa and Amazon Echo and how it can improve their lives. First of all, Amazon Alexa is an app and Amazon Echo is a speaker. If that’s all you have been wondering about – then that’s fine!
However, if you have been wondering about smart home technology and how it can fit into your life, then let’s take a look at both of these in turn – Alex and the Echo Dot, how they work together and why you might want this combo at home.
What is Amazon Alexa?
Alexa is an app, but it’s also been described as a computer generated personal assistant. This app was first seen with the introduction of Amazon Echo Dot in 2014 (which is essentially just a speaker), but since its popularity has grown so much, there are many more devices that work with Alexa. This compatibility with lots of other home automation devices, makes the Alexa and the Echo a very good home hub or platform to control all of your home automation.
Just as the number of devices that integrate with Alexa have increased over the past few years, so has the functionality of the Echo dot with new models being introduced regularly.
How does Amazon Alexa work?
To work, Alexa needs to be combined with a speaker system, because it’s voice operated. It was originally designed to work with Amazon’s Echo devices which are speakers, although some of the latest devices also have video displays. Essentially, you speak your request to Alexa via the speaker system and the app either finds the answer to your question or performs a task for you.
Alexa operates on the level of the internet, so it can access just about any information you need, as soon as you voice your request. For example, it can tell you the weather, find recipes and play music on request.
Things to ask Alexa
You can ask Amazon Alexa thousands of random questions or ask it to perform a task in your home, such as turn the lights down or the volume of your music up. If you are bored, you can take advantage of its trivia function and ask it to give you information on a variety of topics. For example, you can ask Alexa for some interesting sports facts, important days in history or how many days it rains in your town.
Alexa isn’t perfect, but it does a good job of understanding spoken language and its list of commands are continually increasing. You can ask it to set a timer for you and tell you how long until the time is up (great if you are cooking), it can tell you the weather forecast or the latest traffic report, answer calls from other Alexa users, send an SMS, buy and track deliveries from Amazon, create shopping lists and tell you what’s on your shopping list, it can do maths problems, spell words for you, find phone numbers, add tasks to your to-do list, tell you the date of Easter this year, and the list goes on.
What Alexa devices are available?
Of course, Amazon Echo Dot works with Alexa, but there are many devices that already have Alexi built-in. These include smartphones, noise cancelling headphones, Android tablets, thermostats, smart light switches, smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors, car GPS systems, dash cams, and home security cameras, smart TVs, door locks, smart bulbs, home WiFi systems …
So now you know that Amazon Alexa is an app or a virtual assistant that can perform a large variety of functions in your home, let’s look at the Amazon Echo Dot.
What is Amazon Echo Dot?
The first Echo dot was designed to operate with Alexa and was originally just a speaker system where you could use your voice to give Alexa commands and it could speak back to you. There have been a number of itinerations since 2014 with some of the newer models also includinbg a video screen, which is necessary if you want to watch movies, read a recipe or check your home security cameras.
Since all of the Echo devices have Alexa built in, they all operate the same way – they respond to your spoken questions or commands. All you need to do is to wake up Alexa by speaking the word ‘Alexa’ and then make your request.
Which Amazon Echo should you buy?
If you want the most affordable model, then go for the Amazon Echo Dot, but at twice the price, the Amazon Echo offers much better sound quality, which is something you will want if you play music a lot via this system. However, if you just want it to operate your home automation, search the internet or answer questions, then the cheaper version will probably suit your needs.
The Amazon Echo Plus is more expensive again, but also offers a built-in hub, which might become important to you if you want to set up a home automation system.