AI

Tip: Connecting and Using Apple Music with Alexa

Amazon and Apple have recently delivered Apple Music for owners of Alexa-enabled devices. Amazon has added Apple Music as another option in its list of Music services. Setting it up is as easy as choosing it, enabling it, linking it, and using it. We’ve seen some websites suggest that you have to enable a special Apple skill to get this to work, but that’s not the case. Amazon has done a good job integrating Apple Music into its normal music service line up. To set it up: [1] In the Alexa mobile app (not available from the web version of Alexa), go to Settings and then locate Music under Alexa Preferences. [2] Once in the Music area, choose the option to Link New Service. [3] Select Apple Music on the Link Service page. [4] Once you select the Apple Music option, the Alexa app ...

UPDATE: Amazon’s Echo Wall Clock Now on Sale, Arrives in Time for Christmas

UPDATE: After we posted about the release of the Echo Wall Clock, the device sold like gangbusters. You can still order it but it will now not arrive until after Christmas. Original article… Announced in September, Amazon’s Echo Wall Clock is now available for purchase. On Amazon.com for $29.99: Echo Wall Clock  The device is not a full-fledged Alexa-enabled device as it needs an Echo device paired to work. The Wall Clock is simply a way to see when timers expire that you create using a compatible Echo device. Compatible Echo devices include Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Show, Echo Plus, Echo Spot, or Echo Input. Additionally, the Wall Clock uses the Echo device pairing to automatically set the time. Pairing is accomplished using Bluetooth Core Specification version 4.2 including Basic ...

Big Sky Adds Premium Weather Service Features to Alexa Skill

At its basic level, the Big Sky Alexa skill is heads-above what Alexa herself can provide for weather services. But, now the Big Sky folks have added a Premium service. BigSky Premium is just 99 cents a month, and only 80 cents a month for Amazon Prime members. If you sign-up for Premium, there’s a one-week free trial. Here’s what it adds beyond the basics: Additional forecast locations and location labels. Set a label like, “Mom’s house” or “the campground” and you can then you can ask Big Sky things like, “What’s the weather at mom’s house?” or, “Will it rain at the campground tomorrow at 5 p.m?” Premium Users can also get the same great Big Sky forecasts for cities and locations around the world. “What&#...

Tip: Getting Alexa to Read Your Emails

Alexa now has the ability to read your emails to you. Prior to Amazon adding this capability you’d need to install and use a special skill. To get it to work, you first have to set it up. [1] In the Alexa mobile app (this doesn’t work on the Alexa web version of the app yet), go to “Settings.” [2] Locate “Email & Calendar” and tap the “+” button to add an account. You can choose a Google or Microsoft account. [3] Log in with your username and password. At this point, you should also consider setting a special voice pin code for your email or anyone can have access to your emails. Once you have this setup you can now say… “Alexa, check my email” or “Alexa, read my email“ Alexa will start with your unread email...

Amazon Adds an Adlib-style Alexa Blueprint for Holiday Fun

If you played adlibs as a kid, you know how fun these are and how most times the story result is ridiculous and hilarious. Essentially, you’re given a story with a lot of word blanks to fill in that range from Pronouns, nouns, actions, adjectives, etc. and once the blanks are filled in the story is read. Each story can be revamped time and again and get a different result. Amazon has put together a new Holiday Story blueprint skill that puts this concept into practice for Echo devices. Build the story, insert blanks, and let your family fill in their own hilarity. Try it: Holiday Story And, if have time off for the holiday and you’re hankering for more fun, try these other Alexa blueprints: Hallmark Holiday Greeting – sponsored by Hallmark Santa’s Letter – Wri...

Is Amazon’s Echo Auto Vaporware?

At its big announcement party a couple months back, Amazon introduced its own foray into delivering Alexa service to any car – even though some really good options (like the Roav Viva by Anker) already exist. Originally, the company suggested that the device would begin delivering in early December (December 5th) and posted an invitation request on the product page. Maybe the company has had second thoughts or its possible development of this gadget is taking longer than expected, but the product page has changed in that it no longer gives a proposed date of delivery. Instead, the product page simply sits with the introductory price at half retail and the button for requesting an invitation be one of the first to test the gadget. The initial request for invitations started in Septemb...

Fire TV Cube Gains Support for Another Pre-existing Alexa Capability

Fire TV Cube owners today can expect an update for their device that adds yet another already existing capability for Alexa. Amazon added Announcements capability to all its devices in April of this year, but up until now, the Fire TV Cube hasn’t supported it. Announcements allows you to use just a simple voice command to “announce” a message across every installed Echo device at once. Just say… “Alexa, announce…“ or “Alexa, broadcast…“ or “Alexa, tell everyone…“ …and, everything after the word “announce” or “broadcast” or “tell everyone” will be broadcast to every installed Echo device. This feature was also just recently rolled out to the company’s Fire HD tablet devices. So, now calling the kids for dinner will be a lot easier. The Fire TV Cube is Amazon’s attempt to c...

Amazon Begins Crowdsourcing Alexa Answers – What Could Go Wrong?

As an Amazon Echo customer, how often do you hear Alexa say… “Hmmm…I don’t know that“ Amazon is determined to make that statement a thing of the past, as it opens up access to its Alexa Answers technology. Alexa Answers has been in testing internally at Amazon for some time and now the company is ready to begin a slow public rollout by sending out email invites to certain customers. Beginning today, via invitation-only, customers can add answers and information to Alexa through a new feature we call Alexa Answers. Those who receive an invite via email can start contributing answers to Alexa today. We’re excited to get Alexa customers involved. In the last month, through our internal Alexa Answers beta program, we’ve added more than 100,000 response...

Amazon Delivering Fire HD Tablet Update to Allow Alexa Drop-ins and Announcements

Amazon is beginning to deliver an update to its latest Fire HD 8 and Fire HD 10 tablets that bring them into the full communication fold for Alexa-enabled devices. The update being circulated now brings Drop-in and Announcement capability to the tablets. Prior to the update, Fire tablet owners could only initiate calls – which is still pretty cool in its own right. As usual, Amazon stages the update rollout, so if you don’t see it right away just wait longer.    

Apple Music Playing on Amazon Echo Alexa-enabled Devices Starting December 17

Amazon wants everything to work with its Alexa voice platform. Announced today, Echo devices will be able to play Apple Music starting the week of December 17, 2018. “Music is one of the most popular features on Alexa—since we launched Alexa four years ago, customers are listening to more music in their homes than ever before,” said Dave Limp, senior vice president, Amazon Devices. “We are committed to offering great music providers to our customers and since launching the Music Skill API to developers just last month, we’ve expanded the music selection on Alexa to include even more top-tier services. We’re thrilled to bring Apple Music – one of the most popular music services in the US – to Echo customers this holiday.”    

Big Mouth Billy Bass with Alexa is a Real Thing – Starts Shipping on December 1st

What was just a silly attempt at giving the old Bill Bass an Alexa voice on YouTube has turned into a real thing. Amazon.com now has the Big Mouth Billy Bass on sale for around $40.00. Pre-order now and it will ship on December 1, 2018 and arrive just in time for a good old-fashioned hillbilly Christmas. On Amazon.com: Big Mouth Billy Bass – Compatible with Alexa Features: Big mouth Billy bass is back and better than ever. Everyone’s favorite talking and singing fish is now programmed to respond to Alexa voice commands. Pair big mouth Billy bass with your preferred device in the Echo family and let the fun begin. Responds to Alexa voice commands Lip syncs with Alexa spoken responses Responds to inquiries about the weather, your commute, the news, random facts, and more Reacts to time...

ROAV Adds Drop-in and Calling Support for Its Alexa-enabled In-car Device

We reviewed the ROAV VIVA device by Anker a while back, and actually still use it constantly for mobile Alexa capabilities. It’s a brilliant device. At the time of the review, it supported all Alexa features except Calling and Messaging. Most non-Amazon devices suffered the same drawback, but the company opened up its API recently allowing third-parties to also take advantage of this feature. The device would allow calling, but it used the cell phone connection instead of Alexa device-to-device support. A recent update to the software and a firmware update for the device has given it the ability to call other Alexa devices or to drop-in to your Alexa devices at home. This makes a great device even better, giving it the full breadth of capability and making it arguably the best in-car...