Alexa

Alexa for Windows 10 Gets Full Hands-free Mode

Prior to this latest update, Alexa hands-free mode only worked for certain devices and PC manufacturer models. But, this latest update brings hands-free capability to any PC running Windows 10. If you have the Alexa app for Windows 10 installed and the feature isn’t yet working, just go into the Windows Store and grab the update. If you haven’t installed the Alexa app for Windows 10, get it here: Alexa The app requires that you be logged-in to your Amazon account, but you can then alter the Alexa for Windows 10 settings to enable hands-free, give sound indicators when Alexa is waiting for a response or has stopped listening, and if the app should run automatically when the computer starts.   Unfortunately, the app still doesn’t run as a System Tray service. The app m...

Amazon Decentralizes Alexa Meetings and Conference Calls for Everyone for a Limited Time

Alexa for Business has the ability to host boardroom conference calls, giving companies instant conferencing equipment and services. For a limited time (Amazon doesn’t give an end date), Amazon is making this capability available for all Echo device owners – even for those at home. Simply telling Alexa to “Join my meeting” will kick-off the setup process which includes linking a supported calendar (Microsoft Office 365, Outlook, Google Gmail or G Suite, or Apple iCloud calendar) and creating an account for Alexa Communications. Details: “Alexa, join my meeting” – Join conference calls with Alexa, now open to all Alexa users!

Amazon Announces New Health Care Capabilities for Alexa

Amazon has been working as a company to deliver better Health Care services for customers. Now, the company is investing some of that effort into its voice assistant, Alexa. Spurred by new capabilities in its Alexa development kit to support HIPAA regulations, companies are beginning to deliver new, voice-oriented abilities to health care customers. Here’s what’s available today: Express Scripts (a leading Pharmacy Services Organization): Members can check the status of a home delivery prescription and can request Alexa notifications when their prescription orders are shipped. Cigna Health Today (by Cigna, the global health service company): Eligible employees with one of Cigna’s large national accounts can now manage their health improvement goals and increase opportunit...

Amazon Unveils Alexa Blueprints for Businesses

Last year Amazon delivered Alexa Blueprints, which allows anyone to quickly and create simple, personal skills based on template wizards. Later the company gave those same users the ability to publish their self-created blueprints as official Alexa skills that can be shared and used by anyone. Today, Amazon has unveiled “Private Skills,” which is essentially Alexa Blueprints for businesses. These Private Skills are voice-powered capabilities that enhance the Alexa experience while remaining private to members of an Alexa for Business organization. With Alexa for Business Blueprints, you don’t need to write a single line of code to create a private skill for your workplace. Select one of dozens of easy-to-use Skill Blueprints, add information such as common questions and a...

Alexa Finally Gets a Good Wake On Lan Skill, But with Caveats

In November 2018, Amazon announced Alexa functionality that would allow developers to programmatically give control over network “magic packets.”  It’s taken this long, but now a formidable skill for Alexa brings the Wake On Lan capability to PCs. The skill: Wake on Lan (WoL) There is a potential gotcha with this implementation, though. You need to enter the devices you want to be able to wake into a web site created by the author. It utilizes an Amazon login, which means it can potentially access your Amazon profile. And, then you also need to enter the computer hostname and MAC address – again a couple of pretty defined indicators. You’ll also need to ensure your device is Wake On Lan capable, and need to turn on the ability for the device to receive magic p...

Tip: Rename Alexa Smarthome Devices Using Voice

Amazon has now added the ability for Echo device owners to rename their smarthome devices with just their voice.  Prior to this updated capability, Echo device owners needed to use the mobile app to make these adjustments. To perform this function, just say something like: “Alexa, rename the kitchen plug“ Alexa will walk you through the rest of the steps to successfully rename the device.

Amazon Rereleases Echo Wall Clock with a Fix and a Disclaimer

Amazon took its Echo Wall Clock off the market recently due to connectivity problems. And, now that the connectivity capability has been tweaked, the company has resumed selling the gadget. The Echo Wall Clock’s capability is limited, but valuable in its own way. Like any wall clock it provides the time, but in this case, also can be used to show timer countdowns on the outer edge of the clock face. It does this through a required connection to a compatible Alexa device (Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Show, Echo Plus, Echo Spot, or Echo Input). The product page now also supplies the following warning… Echo Wall Clock must be paired to, and within 30 feet of, a compatible Echo device. Echo Wall Clock is compatible with Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Plus, Echo Show, Echo Spot, and Echo Input. It is...

Forgo the Amazon Echo Auto Sticky Dashboard Mount for the Official Air Vent Mount

Despite not being widely available yet, Amazon has begun shipping its Echo Auto device to those who pre-ordered the device in 2018. The device is said to have been pre-ordered by over 1 million customers which may help explain why it has taken Amazon so long to begin fulfilling orders. The Echo Auto device comes with a dashboard mount. This mount adheres with a sticky pad. Most car owners try to avoid adhering anything to their car, but Amazon now has a separate add-on that can be used to mount the Echo Auto device in the car’s vent. Available for $15 from Amazon:  Echo Auto Air Vent Mount The Air Vent Mount is actually in stock.  Until Amazon kicks manufacturing into a higher gear, you can display the air vent mount as a token of hope.

Alexa Guard Now Available for Some Echo Customers

Announced in September, Amazon has a neat, new feature for Alexa’s listening capability. Putting Alexa into “Guard” mode when away, the Echo speaker devices can listen for noises that might indicate a security breach or a home warning scenario. For example, Alexa can listen for breaking glass or a smoke detector going off. And, when Alexa detects these occurrences, she can alert you through the Alexa mobile app on your smartphone and also notify your home security provider if you use one. Currently, Alexa supports Ring and ADT. Additionally, when in Guard mode, Alexa can turn lights on and off randomly if they are connected to the Echo smart home hub. The feature is rolling out now, but only certain customers will get it. Amazon seems to have learned from the past when ne...

Atom Adds Amazon Pay to Its Alexa Skill for Movie Ticket Purchasing

Atom Tickets, the social movie ticketing platform, has added Amazon Pay to its Alexa skill. Not only does the Atom Tickets skill make it easy to get showtimes and reserve seating, but customers can now also just use the same information they use for shopping on Amazon to purchase tickets. After saying “Alexa, ask Atom for movie tickets” or “Alexa, ask Atom what’s playing near me,” the skill enables consumers to: Select Movie Format: Select movie tickets for standard or premium formats like 3D, Dolby, or IMAX movies. Reserve Seats: The Atom Tickets skill for Amazon Alexa is the only movie ticket skill that lets you buy tickets at theaters with reserved seating. Use Amazon Pay: Easily check out with your voice using Amazon Pay without reaching for a credit card....

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 ...