Alexa is your new virtual assistant

News

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…

comments powered by Disqus
The Alexa smart home assistant inside Amazon’s Echo is always evolving. Since launch, it's learned l
If you're looking to transform your home into a smart home this Christmas, these products are out to
Sonos has announced that you'll be able to control its wireless home speaker system with Amazon Echo

8 December, 2017
We've rounded up our top audio gifts for the audiophile in your life, available to...
8 December, 2017
Do you need a virtual assistant? If you recognise any of these ten tell-tale signs,...
7 December, 2017
There are some great TV streaming devices that you can control with your smartphone...
4 December, 2017
Are you thinking about a virtual reality headset for that special tech-lover in your...
1 December, 2017
The best smartphones of the 2017, and the ones you should definitely be thinking...

17 November, 2017
Is Apple Pay Cash different to Apple Pay? We take a look at the new peer-to-peer...
12 November, 2017
Monqi is a unique version of Android, designed for children. Through an accompanying...
3 November, 2017
You should take your smartphone out on Bonfire Night. It'll help you stay safe and...
10 October, 2017
Amazon has well and truly established itself in the smart home, internet of things...
4 October, 2017
Google has just revealed its 2017 smartphones, Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. Both smartphones...
3 October, 2017
Experience that new phone feeling through the medium of smell with Carphone Warehouse's...
22 September, 2017
The upcoming iPhone 8 and iPhone X will be running iOS 11 straight out of their boxes....
15 September, 2017
If you think you might have missed any of the latest tech news, help is at hand....
12 September, 2017
This is everything you need to know about Apple's latest flagship smartphone, iPhone...
12 September, 2017
iPhone X revealed by Apple, featuring an incredible edge-to-edge 5.8-inch Super Retina...
4 September, 2017
Europe's largest consumer technology show, IFA, has given us a chance to see some...
31 August, 2017
Sony has just unveiled its latest flagship phone - the stunning Xperia XZ1, capable...