Smart speakers have grown in popularity and Amazon still dominates the scene, so you might need some tips and tricks to get you started if you got a new Amazon Echo for Christmas.
According to app stores charts, smart speakers were widely popular gift choices this holiday season. The Amazon Echo and Google Home apps were among the most downloaded free applications recently, indicating that many people wrapped a home speaker under the Christmas tree.
While smart speakers are high-tech and can prove to be really useful in a number of scenarios, getting started can also be a bit overwhelming especially for first-time users. For those who are just trying to figure out how to make the most of an Alexa-powered smart speaker, here are some basic tips to customize the experience.
Amazon Alexa Personalized Responses
Amazon Echo speakers support multiple users, and to make things easier Amazon added voice recognition earlier this year. This means that in a household with multiple people using the smart speaker, Alexa can now recognize who's speaking so that it can offer personalized responses. To take advantage of this option, however, users have to set it up.
To do so, access the Alexa app on the smartphone, head over to Settings > Accounts > Your Voice > Begin, then choose the nearest Alexa speaker to get started. The on-screen prompts will require users to read 10 phrases aloud so that Alexa can learn to recognize their voice. To check if it worked, users can then ask "Alexa, who am I?" and the assistant should be able to tell who's speaking.
With personalized responses set up, users can have their own calendar, to-do lists, or shopping lists, for instance, and add items to them without affecting some other user's profile. Alexa will know who's speaking without the user having to specify, and she will offer responses based on that.
Alexa can also offer personalized updates for each user, and these are called Flash Briefing. As the name itself suggests, it means the assistant will offer users the highlights based on their preferences and what they're interested in, whether it's the local weather, sports scores, or something else. Users can choose which news sources to tap into so that they only get the ones they prefer.
Users can change the Flash Briefing sources either from the Alexa app on mobile or from the Alexa website on desktop, by accessing Settings > Flash Briefing. From there on, users can just say "Alexa, play my Flash Briefing," and they'll get the briefings they're interested in.
Setting Amazon Echo Default Music Services
Amazon Echo speakers come with support for various music services out of the box such as the company's own Prime Music and Amazon Music unlimited, or others like Spotify, iHeartRadio, Pandora, SiriusXM, or TuneIn. Users might want to set a default music service, however, so that they can simply tell Alexa to play music and she'll know the preferred source. To set a default music app, access Settings > Music & Media > Choose default music service.
Find More Alexa Skills
Alexa is good at many things, but she might not always get what you want or know what to do. In such cases, exploring the wide Alexa skills section in the app can be a world-saver. These skills are third-party contributions that complement what Alexa and the smart speaker can already do. Amazon has more than 20,000 Alexa skills available and that trove is constantly growing, so there are plenty of things Alexa can do.