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Alexa

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...

Fire TV Cube Leads Amazon’s Black Friday Deals with $60 Off

If you’re interested in giving the gift of entertainment this holiday season, Amazon is drastically cutting its prices for the Fire TV lineup. Black Friday isn’t quite here yet, but Amazon is already offering marked-down prices. Here’s what’s up: Fire TV Cube – $60 off! Priced now at just $59.99. This is Amazon’s all-in-one entertainment gadget that includes Alexa voice control and the ability to control all your connected devices. Fire TV Stick 4K with all-new Alexa Voice Remote – Normally $49.99, now just $34.99. This new edition of the 4K model comes with an enhanced remote control that includes extra buttons for controlling attached gadgets like a TV, DVR, sound equipment, etc. Fire TV Stick with 1st Gen Alexa Voice Remote – At just $24.9...

Tip: Using Skype with an Amazon Echo Device

Amazon has recently begun the rollout of Skype capability for Alexa-enabled devices. The capability will be available for the following devices: Amazon Echo 1st, 2nd Generation Amazon Echo Plus 1st, 2nd Generation Amazon Dot 2nd, 3rd Generation Amazon Show 1st, 2nd Generation Amazon Echo Spot   To make this work on the supported devices, you need to first enable it and connect your Microsoft account. The option can be found in the Alexa mobile app or the web app at: Settings > Communication > Skype        Examples of things you can say: “Alexa, Skype Mom” “Alexa, call Mom on Skype” “Alexa, call Dad’s mobile on Skype” Those that choose to set it up and link Skype with Alexa will get 100 minutes of free calls per month for two months. More...

Amazon Gives Alexa Control Over Magic Packets for Wake on Lan Capability

Amazon today has announced a new capability for Alexa. This particular capability is important for consumer devices, but even IT Pros that manage large fleets of computers should recognize the immediate value here. We’re excited to introduce the Wake-on-LAN Controller, which enables customers to use Alexa to power on smart devices which have gone into a low power mode and cannot be woken up via the cloud. Now, whenever a customer wants to power on a smart device, typically a TV or other entertainment equipment, that has gone into low power mode using only voice, they can simply say, “Alexa, turn on my TV.” The associated smart home skill then uses the Wake-on-LAN Controller to send a directive to a customer’s Echo devices, resulting in a Wake-on-LAN (WoL) packet being broadcast over ...