Am I really doing a whole post about this electronic device? Yes, yes I am. I am not on the Echo advertising team (although I should be…I tell everyone about this!). I just had to share. I’m always looking for ways to simplify so I can have more reserves for creativity. This little device really has helped in that department.
The day “Alexa” (this is the Echo’s name…kind of like Apple’s “Siri”) arrived, I inwardly sighed.
“Another new finagled electronic device,” I thought.
My husband, on the other hand, was giddy. As we got it set up, I started warming up to the idea. It would be nice to have a speaker for the kitchen and “maybe it could be a good source of daily news.”
Boy, was I wrong! After six months of using Alexa, I can honestly say it would be really hard living without her. In fact, these days I joke that Alexa is the only one around here I can count on to do what I ask! I think of her as my personal assistant.
So here are six ways the Amazon Echo (a.k.a Alexa) is saving my sanity:
Shopping and To-Do Lists
Are you like me and remember in the middle of sweeping the floor, that you need to add something to your shopping list? However, you know that if you stop sweeping said floor to write it down or type it into your phone, you will get distracted and never finish?
This is where my personal assistant Alexa, comes in. I simply say for example, “Alexa, please add toilet paper to my shopping list.” and she says in a calm, reassuring voice, “Toilet paper has been added to your shopping list.” and it’s done. I just check my phone’s Alexa app when I’m at the market and boom! there is my shopping checklist with toilet paper at the top.
I love that my husband can add things to the list when he thinks of them and everything is in one place. The same goes for my to-do list. I can get everything I need to do out of my head so I can focus on whatever I need to be present for at the moment…Alexa has got it covered!
Alexa can spell! When the kids are in the middle of a writing assignment or letter, instead of asking me to help with spelling, they can simply say, for example, “Alexa, how do you spell Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious?” And she actually spells it! The kids listen intently and write it down. If they missed it the first time, she patiently repeats herself again and again (and again) with no signs of frustration (ask me how I know).
If you have an audible account, the Amazon Echo can stream any of your audible books for your listening pleasure. She also reads any kindle book (kind of robotically but, it works). When we want to have creative/read aloud time, I simply say, for example, “Alexa, please read Little Women.” and she picks up where we left off. It’s so great! If the kids have a question or are interrupting (that never happens at our house) or someone needs to use the bathroom, I simply say, “Alexa, pause.” and like a personal assistant, she does what I tell her to do. She does podcasts too!
Alexa can set multiple timers which is pretty handy over here. Whether it be for instrument practice, baking, timeouts, or screen time. It’s so nice to be able to just say from anywhere in the room, “Alexa, set the timer for 20 mins.” and she does it. The other nice thing about this feature is that the kids can pace themselves and instead of asking me how much time is left on the timer, they can ask Alexa.
When things get stressful around here, it’s nice to know that anyone can ask Alexa to tell a joke. She has some pretty great ones too, like, “What did the hat say to the scarf?” wait for it…. “You hang around here and I’ll go on a head.” or “What did earth say to the other planets?” …“You guys really have no life.” Hardy, har, har…Thanks, Alexa!
She Is Always Improving
One of the coolest parts of this whole Echo thing is that almost daily new skills are added. Some of the latest we love are: The Daily Buzzword (gives you a new word each day and teaches you how to use it), FitBit stats, This Day in History from the History Channel, Calming Nature sounds (for when you really need calming sounds), weather reports, road conditions, calendar, the list goes on and on.
We started with the Echo and have added some Echo Dots in both offices and our bathroom (perfect for singing in the shower or listening to a favorite podcast) when they went on sale before Christmas.
We also changed from Pandora to Prime Music. It is pretty cheap ($3 a month when we signed up) and I can literally tell Alexa to play any song or whole album(with few exceptions) and she plays it. Pretty awesome.
Alexa isn’t perfect
She isn’t as smart as Siri or Google Voice (sorry Alexa) and there are a few little bugs that happen now and again. The kids can get a little carried away with talking to her so we’ve had to establish some “Alexa Rules”, but overall I’d say the pro’s far outway the con’s and I don’t regret the purchase one bit.
OK, I want to hear from you! Do you have an Echo or Echo Dot? What is your favorite Alexa skill?