Alexa is your new virtual assistant

Is there an Amazon Echo in here?
by
Alexa is your new virtual assistant

Amazon Echo has arrived in the UK at last. The virtual assistant-in-a-Bluetooth speaker has been available in the US for a couple of years now, but we’ve never had a chance to get up close with it until now. So let’s not waste any more time, and get straight down to the introductions. Say hello to Alexa.

How does Amazon Echo work?

Amazon Echo is connected to Alexa (or the Alexa Voice Service, if you want her full name), which is why you’ll be starting your commands by saying “Alexa”.

Amazon Echo is always on, so it’ll sit in your home ready and waiting to spring into action and help you out. It uses seven microphones with advanced technology to hear your voice from any direction – even right across the room while music is playing.

Right. You’ve said “Alexa” and you have her attention. Here’s what she can do for you…

Listen to music
It’s a Bluetooth speaker, so you’re not going to be surprised to hear that Amazon Echo is great for music. You can ask Alexa to play tunes from Amazon Music, Prime Music, Spotify, Tunein, Pandora and iHeart Radio. And if that wasn’t enough, you’ll be able to use the Amazon Alexa app (free on iOS and Android) to stream the likes of iTunes and Google Play Music from your phone or tablet.

As for the sound itself, the Amazon Echo has dual downward-firing speakers that pump out 360° audio capable of filling an entire room. Vocals are crisp and clear, and the inbuilt dynamic bass response does a good job of producing accurate, satisfying bass levels.

Get your news and sport fix
You can ask Alexa for the latest news, and get the top headlines from the Telegraph or Guardian. If you’ve got Amazon Echo in your bedroom, you can do this first thing in the morning without even lifting your head from the pillow.

If you’re a sports fan you can use the Amazon Alexa app to add your favourite team, and you’ll then be able to ask for details of upcoming fixtures, league standings, scores and other important team news.

Feed yourself
If you’re in the mood for a Takeaway, you can ask Alexa to order you a meal from those good people at Just Eat. And if you’re feeling especially lazy you don’t even have to think about it. You can just say something along the lines of “Alexa, order me the last meal I had from Just Eat again.”

Make your home smarter
You can also make Amazon Echo your very own smart home hub. It’s compatible with a wide range of smart home products, so you could use it to adjust your lighting, turn your heating on, or control any product in your home that can take a smart plug.

Amazon Echo is ready and waiting…

Amazon says the more you use Echo, the more it adapts to your speech patterns and personal preferences. This means you can have realistic conversations with it, without having to think carefully about how you phrase a sentence. So for example, rather than saying “Alexa, what is a virtual assistant”, you could ask “Alexa, tell me about virtual assistants” and get exactly the same answer.

If you’re interested in giving Alexa a place in your home, you can buy Amazon Echo from Currys.

If you’re lucky enough to have Amazon Echo in your home already, let us know how you’re getting on with it. Is it making you more productive? Or lazier, perhaps? Drop us a line below.

What are your thoughts? Join the conversation here…

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