Smart assistants have improved by leaps and bounds in the last few years. You can now do so much more than simply ask questions and check on the day’s weather. Amazon’s Alexa is one of the best assistants around, though some of its best features are well hidden. Here are just a few Amazon Echo hacks that might help you take your assistant to new heights.
Some of these tricks may not completely change your life, but at least they can serve as a fun new trick. We’ll do our best to add more hacks as we discover them.
The best Amazon Echo hacks:
Change Alexa’s voice
Alexa’s voice is pretty distinct, though it might not be for everyone. You can use this Amazon Echo hack to change your assistant’s voice to a few select options. Alexa accents are available based on geographic speech patterns, including Indian, Australian, Southern United States, and more.
Here’s what to do:
- Open the Alexa app.
- Tap on the gear icon.
- Choose the device you wish to change settings on.
- Select Language.
- Open the drop-down menu and choose your language.
- Tap Save Settings.
- Click on Yes, Change to confirm.
Looking for something a bit more fun? Amazon and Samuel L. Jackson have partnered up to bring his legendary (and profane) vocabulary to the Echo lineup. It’ll cost you $5, but it’s well worth it. Learn more right here.
Get traffic updates on your Amazon Echo
If you’re running late or you just want a commute preview, Alexa can help. You can use this Amazon Echo hack to check local traffic with Amazon’s aptly named Traffic skill. Once again, you will need the companion app to set up your starting point and destination, and here’s what to do:
- Open the Alexa app.
- Enter the Settings section of the menu.
- Navigate to Alexa Preferences.
- Locate and tap on the Traffic preference.
- You will now have to enter your starting and ending destinations.
Once you’ve saved your two points, simply ask “Alexa, how’s traffic?” She should answer you in real-time with accidents and other slowdowns.
Create parental controls
Amazon’s Fire tablets are a great low-cost way to enter the tablet game. They’re great for kids, too. This isn’t so much of an Echo hack, but it does make your tablet safer for kids to use. You can easily set up Amazon’s Kids+ service (formerly known as FreeTime) and add some handy parental controls.
Amazon Kids+ allows for your little ones to enjoy three different age groups of entertainment. Your kids can tap into hundreds of carefully curated apps, games, and books. While it’s probably best experienced on a tablet, Echo speakers can play hours of radio and other content just for your little ones. Prime customers can get access to the service for just $2.99 per month.
See also: The 8 best Android tablets for kids
Get Alexa’s help falling asleep
We can’t all drift off to sleep easily every night. Sometimes we need a little help that counting sheep just can’t provide. Luckily, Alexa can play you a selection of gentle sounds to help you fall asleep. It’s incredibly easy to try out, and all you have to say is “Alexa, open…” followed by one of these:
- Thunderstorm sounds
- Fan sounds
- Babbling brook
- Ocean sounds
- Fireplace sounds
- Train sounds
Besides the above selection, you can go for soothing options like white noise or have Alexa tell you a bedtime story. Just make sure you have your Amazon Echo set a sleep timer so it doesn’t play all night long.
See also: 10 best sleep tracker apps for Android
Tune your guitar with your Amazon Echo
If you’ve picked up a new instrument or you just haven’t shown your guitar enough love, this Amazon Echo hack is for you. You can simply say “Alexa, tune my guitar” and she will guide you through each of the six notes.
Don’t worry if you can’t quite keep up, Alexa will play each note four times for you. If that’s still too fast, you can always ask her to tune it again for four more notes.
See also: 10 best guitar tuner apps for Android
Build custom routines
Hopefully you’ve tinkered with routines by now, but it’s as good a time as any if not. It’s very easy to create one of your own, and all you need is the Alexa app. Simply open it and tap on the Routines button. You’ll be greeted with a page that says “When this happens…” followed by “Alexa will…” All you have to do is populate both sections with a voice command and corresponding action(s) and the assistant will do the rest.
Here are the steps to follow:
- Open the Alexa app and enter the Routines menu.
- Tap on the “+” button to create a new routine.
- Add a trigger to the When this happens box.
- Fill the Alexa will box with a corresponding action or actions.
- Press the create button.
See also: 10 best skills and apps for Alexa
Keep up with the news
It’s always nice to stay informed, and Alexa can help you do so without having to browse pages of news. You can customize what Amazon Echo calls your Flash Briefing by adding and removing select news sources. Once again, the Flash Briefing is controlled via the companion app, so head to Settings and find Flash Briefing.
Now you can adjust the order in which your briefing plays, though be aware that some of the options are outdated and no longer play content. You also cannot skip over news bites in your briefing.
See also: 10 best news apps for Android
Safeguard your Amazon Echo purchases
The ability to shop on Amazon with the power of your voice is a great Echo feature. However, this featured hack helps to keep those purchases safe. This is mostly just to avoid accidental purchases, but it can also make you think more about what you’re buying. To add a voice purchasing code, simply follow these steps. This menu can also deactivate voice purchasing altogether.
- Open the Alexa app and head to Settings.
- Locate the Voice Purchasing options.
- Toggle the Voice Code setting to on.
- Set your four-digit voice code and press confirm.
We’ve done our best to give you a few Amazon Echo hacks to try out, but the smart assistant learns something new every day. We will add new features as we find them.