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 ...

Amazon’s Live TV DVR with Alexa is Available Today

Amazon’s announced Fire TV Recast is now finally available for shipment. Amazon is promising free delivery by Friday if you order it today. There are two versions of this device. And, the price between them is extremely nominal – just a $50 difference. 2 tuners, 500 GB, 75 hours of storage (With 2 tuners, you can record up to 2 shows at once) – $229.99 4 tuners, 1 TB, 150 hours of storage (With 4 tuners, you can record up to 4 shows at once) – $279.99 Fire TV Recast is a DVR that lets you watch and record over-the-air TV at home or on-the-go with a Fire TV, Echo Show, or compatible mobile device—with no monthly fees. Watch and record live sports, local news, late night shows, and other can’t miss TV from channels available through an HD antenna (sold separately) lik...

Tip: Have Alexa Notify You When Your Favorite Artist Has New Music

Amazon has further combined its Alexa voice companion and its Music service by allowing customers to follow their favorite artists and be notified when they release new music. This capability requires a couple things: You have notifications turned on for Alexa using the Alexa mobile app You have the Amazon Music app installed and notifications turned on there   To follow an artist, just say… “Alexa, follow <artist name>” Alexa will confirm you are following the artist. This works just like other notifications. The Echo ring will turn yellow and you need to ask “Alexa, what are my notifications?”  

Tip: Use Echo Buttons with an Alexa Routine

Amazon has now added the capability to use its Echo Buttons to kick-off actions for its Routines. [1] To create a Routine that includes an Echo Buttons, go to Settings – Routines. [2] Create a new Routine. [3] Add a “When this happens” action and choose Echo Button. After you complete the Routine, you will be able to kick-off the actions using the Echo Button selected during the setup.      

Amazon Delivers Alexa for All Windows 10 PCs

Microsoft and Amazon’s partnership originally began as a promise to make Cortana and Alexa work together. Though the functionality has been slow moving, most can now use Cortana to kick off an Alexa session on their Windows 10 PC and on Xbox. There are even specific manufacturer laptops that have Alexa integrated directly with the hardware. Now, Amazon has finally delivered a full-featured, official Alexa client for Windows 10 PCs. Available in the Windows Store today: Alexa for PCs The convenience of Alexa, now on your PC. With Alexa on your PC you can simplify your life and use your voice to get more done. Just tap and ask Alexa to check your calendar, create lists, play music, answer questions, read the news and more. Alexa on your PC even makes it easy to control your smart home ...

Alexa Mobile App Update Brings a New Feature and a Relocated Activity Screen

Amazon is rolling out an update for its Alexa mobile app that brings some new functionality and relocates the activity history. Prior to this update, whenever you opened the app, the activity history page, along with information cards, were the first thing to see. Now, a brand new Daily Updates screen is launched when the app is run. And, you can always come back to view the Daily Updates using the card stack icon at the bottom of the screen.        Looking for the old-style Activity history? You can still find it under the Settings menu: Settings – Activity      

Amazon Supplies Alexa’s Brain, You Supply Her Body with New Echo Input Device

Do you want Alexa capability but either don’t need a speaker or believe you have a better speaker already? Amazon has silently released a new Alexa gadget called the Echo Input. The Echo Input is an Alexa puck that is devoid of any speaker. Essentially, the device is a pod that connects to the Amazon cloud through the WiFi connection to supply Alexa capability but requires that you already have a Bluetooth-enabled speaker to pair with or connect through a 3.5 mm audio cable. Pre-order is available today with shipping beginning on December 12, 2018. On for $34.00: Echo Input – Bring Alexa to your own speaker Echo Input adds Alexa to an external speaker and connects via 3.5 mm audio cable or Bluetooth. Can hear you from across the room—even when music is playing. Stream Amaz...

Tip: Make Alexa Work on Any ChromeOS Device

Google is working to bring its digital assistant to all ChromeOS devices in the near future. However, there are many people that are invested in hardware, software, smart devices, and skills for Amazon’s Alexa ecosystem that would love the ability to choose Alexa instead. While this tip is a just workaround and not a qualified solution, it does work wonderfully for bringing much of Alexa’s capability to ChromeOS devices. [1] To use Alexa with a ChromeOS device, you first need to download and install the Android version of the Amazon Music app from the Google Play store. Based on this, it goes without saying that you need a ChromeOS device that supports running Android apps. Download the app here: Amazon Music for Android [2] When you open the Amazon Music app the first time, it...

Tip: Use Alexa to Get Mid-term Voting Information and Results

Amazon has enlisted the help of Ballotpedia, RealClearPolitics, and the Associated Press to enable Alexa to provide information for voting in the US mid-terms including who is on the ballot, where you can go to vote, and results. To get information about who is on the ballot in your state, just ask… Alexa, who is on the ballot? Alexa uses your locale information entered into the Alexa mobile app to know where you reside. To get information about who is on the ballot of another state, just ask… Alexa, who is on the ballot in ex. Arizona? To find out where you can go to vote, just ask… Where can I vote? Alexa will send a link to your local voting locations to the Alexa mobile app cards. And, as more and more results filter in just ask… Alexa, what are the results? &nb...

Bug: Alexa’s Whisper Mode

Amazon just recently rolled out the new Alexa Whisper Mode, which causes Alexa to respond in a whispered voice whenever you issue voice commands the same way. See: Tip: Enable Alexa’s Whisper Mode The feature works great until you issue a second voice command. Unfortunately, any follow-up responses are delivered at the default volume. This has been recorded as a bug and a follow-up fix should be on the way. Looking for an awesome, no-nonsense technical conference for IT Pros, Developers, and DevOps? IT/Dev Connections is what conferences should be.

Tip: Enable Alexa’s Whisper Mode

As promised at its device launch event earlier this year, Amazon has now rolled out “whisper mode” for Alexa. This mode enables the ability for Alexa to hear you whisper and then she’ll respond with a whisper, in an attempt to make the conversation quieter in the event you want to hear the weather or issue smart home commands while someone is sleeping. Here are a few ways you can enable the feature: In the app, go to Settings – Alexa Voice Responses and toggle the Whispered Responses option. Use a voice command to tell each Echo device to “enable Whisper Mode.“ Issue the first whispered command to an Echo device and Alexa will recognize the lower voice inflection and ask if you’d like to turn on Whisper Mode.   Looking for an awesome, no-nonse...

Tip: Create Your Own Custom Alexa-driven Workouts

Amazon continues to roll out new Blueprint skills in a somewhat silent fashion. A new Blueprint allows Alexa owners to create customer workouts. Here’s what you can do with it… Choose exercises and how long you’ll do them Create a weekly schedule of workouts Customize how Alexa motivates you during your workouts   You can’t create multiple workouts, unfortunately. When you want a new workout, you’ll need to just modify the existing one and add/delete exercises. Try it out: Personal Trainer   Looking for an awesome, no-nonsense technical conference for IT Pros, Developers, and DevOps? IT/Dev Connections kicks off in Dallas, Texas in 2018!