Stupid Amazon Echo Tricks

A collection of things you can do with an Amazon Echo — some useful, and some just silly fun. A few of these I’ve discovered on my own, and many are from emails that Amazon sends out. Tell me your favorite tricks in the comments and I’ll add them to the list. Keep checking back, because I continue to update this list.

Update: August 14, 2015: More IFTTT, Flash briefing, lunar phases, multiple alarms and timers.
Update: July 17, 2015: WNBA scores added.
Update: July 14, 2015: More IFTTT, more home automation, Prime music stations, re-ordering products with Amazon Prime.
Update: June 8, 2015: Audible audio books.
Update: June 4, 2015: Google Calendar.
Update: May 7, 2015: IFTTT and “Timer status” added.
Update: April 29, 2015; More home automation, and improvements to sports scores. Podcast instructions.
Update: April 13, 2015; Home automation, and accounts.
Update: April 2, 2015; Traffic, Pandora and more sports scores.
Update: March 9, 2015; More sports scores.

Note: You can read Amazon’s web pages which explain a lot of Echo functions.

Accounts

Some Echo functions are attached to an account. Using the Echo app or web site, you may add user accounts. You may have Prime on one Amazon account and not another. The same is true of other music services. Stations and playlists are attached to an account and will only be available while that account is active.

  • Alexa, switch accounts.
  • Alexa, which account is this?

Voice Control

Voice control for Spotify, iTunes, and Pandora: You can now enjoy hands-free voice control for these popular music services. To get started, simply connect your phone or tablet to Echo by saying “Alexa, pair my device.” After you start playing your music, you can easily control it by saying the wake word and: play, pause, stop, next, or previous.

Music and Streams

Note: Some music features require setup via the Echo app first.

  • Alexa, play some Prime Music.
  • Alexa, play the Prime Playlist [Playlist Name].
  • Alexa, add this to my library.
  • To play a radio station stream, ask by station call sign: “Alexa, play KEXP”.
  • Alexa, turn it up.
  • Alexa, softer.
  • Alexa, shuffle my dinner party playlist.
  • Alexa, stop the music.
  • Alexa, pause.
  • Alexa, shuffle mode on.
  • For podcasts: “Alexa, play Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me from TuneInRadio.”
  • Alexa, play a Pop station on Pandora.
  • Alexa, create a Pandora station for Sam Smith.
  • “Alexa, skip” or “Alexa next.”
  • While listening to Pandora or iHeartRadio: “Alexa, thumbs up/down”
  • Alexa, what song is this?

Prime members can ask Echo to play hundreds of ad-free, personalized streaming music stations. Like, dislike, or skip as many songs as you wish while you discover songs from the Prime Music catalog. With Prime Stations, the more you listen and rate songs, the more personalized each station becomes.

  • Alexa, play the Maroon Five Prime Station.

Podcasts

Hundreds of podcasts are available for your listening pleasure. Discover them in the Amazon Echo app under TuneIn/Podcasts.

  • Alexa, play the podcast [name] on TuneIn.

Audio Books

Amazon’s Audible audio books can be listened to on Echo.

  • “Alexa, read [Audible book title]”
  • Resume the current book you’re reading by saying “Alexa, read my book.”
  • “Alexa, go back”
  • “Alexa, go forward.”

Home Automation

Using Wink, WeMo and Philips Hue products, you may automate your home and control it with Echo. After your devices are connected to your wifi and configured, link them to Echo by saying “Alexa, discover my appliances.”

Then you can control them:

  • Alexa, turn on the kitchen light
  • Alexa, turn on the coffee maker
  • Alexa, dim the bedroom lights to 25%
  • Alexa, turn on the electric blanket
  • Alexa, turn on the Christmas decorations

A full list of Echo compatible devices from Belkin WeMo, Philips Hue, GE, Lutron, Leviton, and more can be found here.

ZDNet has an article about using Echo in a smart home configuration.

IFTTT

You can create IFTTT recipes using Echo’s Shopping and To-do Lists. IFTTT stands for “IF This, Then That” and is a service that connects devices, apps, and websites with simple rules called ‘recipes’. Below are examples of IFTTT you can use with Echo once you have set it up.

  • If you ask “Alexa, what’s on my Shopping List”, then your Shopping List will be emailed to them.
  • If you use Todoist, Evernote, or OneNote, you may ask “Alexa, add pay the power bill to my To-do List”, then it will also be added to the configured app.

Configure IFTTT following these steps:

  1. Sign in to IFTTT.com
  2. Activate the Amazon Alexa channel
  3. Start using existing recipes or creating your own.

Amazon has added the ability for Echo to trigger IFTTT actions when you ask for sports scores, sports schedules, or request a song.

For example, to share what music you’re listening to:

  • IF you ask Alexa for a song, THEN the song can be shared on Facebook or Twitter

Want Echo to turn on your lights when the alarm goes off? Try this Note: Requires IFTTT account.

Reordering Products From Amazon

You may re-order your Prime products with Echo.

  • Alexa, re-order laundry detergent.

Echo will then search your order history and order the item for you using your default payment and shipping settings. If Echo can’t find the requested item in your order history, it may suggest an item for your approval using Amazon’s Choice, which picks highly-rated, well-priced, Prime products. You can manage your shopping preferences and set an optional confirmation code in the Amazon Echo App.

Google Calendar

Access your Google calendar events with Echo. If you want to know what’s on the calendar for the day or check if you’re free for dinner with friends, simply ask Echo.

First, link your Google Calendar within Settings on the Amazon Echo app. After setup, you can ask:

  • Alexa, what’s on my calendar today?
  • Alexa, what’s on my calendar tomorrow at 8PM?
  • Alexa, what’s on my calendar Friday?
  • Alexa, when’s my next event?

Flash Briefing

The flash briefing can get data from many sources. Some require that you create an iHeartRadio account and connect it via the Echo app. Below is a small sample of sources for your briefing. The briefing is per account, so each user can configure a custom brief.

  • ABC Headline News
  • Good Morning America
  • Fox Sports
  • Jimmy Kimmel Live the Morning After

Fun

  • Alexa, tell me a joke.
  • Alexa, what is love?
  • Alexa, what is the meaning of life?
  • Alexa, who is better, you or Siri?
  • Alexa, what does the fox say? (Repeat for different answers.)
  • Alexa, live long and prosper. (Repeat for different answers.)
  • Alexa, winter is coming. (Note: This didn’t work when I tried it.)
  • Alexa, what is the first lesson of swordplay?
  • Alexa, who is the Mother of Dragons?
  • Alexa, what happens when you play the game of thrones?

Random Decisions

  • Decide who goes first by asking “Alexa, flip a coin.”
  • Settle an in-game debate with “Alexa, rock, paper, scissors.”
  • And, in case things get really out of hand and pieces go flying, you can keep playing with “Alexa, roll the dice.”

Dr. Seuss Related

  • Alexa, do you like green eggs and ham?
  • Alexa, one fish, two fish.
  • Alexa, why do you sit there like that?
  • Alexa, what was the Lorax?

Classic Movie Quotes

  • From 2001 A Space Odyssey: “Alexa, open the pod bay doors.”
  • From Jerry McGuire: “Alexa, show me the money!”
  • From Wayne’s World: “Alexa, party on, Wayne.”
  • From Airplane: “Alexa, Surely, you can’t be serious.”
  • From The Princess Bride: “Alexa, my name is Inigo Montoya.”
  • From A Few Good Men: “Alexa, I want the truth.”

Simon Says

You can get Echo to repeat whatever you say by starting with “Alexa, Simon says…” Here’s a fun tip: you can covertly use the remote control from another room to get Echo to repeat what you say and surprise your family.

Facts

  • Alexa, how tall is the Statue of Liberty?
  • Alexa, what’s the definition of oxymoron?
  • Alexa, how do you spell oxymoron?
  • Alexa, who wrote Moby Dick?
  • Alexa, when is Easter?
  • Alexa, Wikipedia: George Washington.
  • Alexa, what’s the capital of England?
  • Alexa, how many cups are in a quart?
  • Wikipedia More feature. First say, “Alexa, Wikipedia Ground Hog Day,” then get more details by immediately saying “Alexa, tell me more.”
  • Learn the basics about a movie such as year of release and stars: “Alexa, wikipedia, The Shawshank Redemption”, or “Alexa, who is in the movie Jaws?”

Timers and Alarms

  • Alexa, set a timer for 1 hour.
  • When the time is up, acknowledge the alarm with “Alexa, cancel” or “Alexa, stop”
  • “Alexa, timer status” will have Echo announce the time remaining on the timer.
  • Alexa, set the alarm for 7 a.m.
  • Alexa, snooze.
  • More than one timer at once: “Alexa, start a timer for 10 minutes.” Then, “Alexa, start another timer for 15 minutes.”
  • More than one alarm at once: “Alexa, set an alarm for 8:30 AM.” Then, “Alexa, set another alarm for 9:30 AM.”

Read about IFTTT to see cool things like making your smart lights cut on when your alarm goes off.

Lists

  • Alexa, what’s on my To-do List?
  • Alexa, what’s on my Shopping List?
  • Alexa, add milk to my shopping list.
  • Alexa, I need to make a birthday cake.
  • Alexa, put dinner reservations on my to-do list.

Weather and Lunar Phases

  • Alexa, what’s the weather?
  • Alexa, will it rain tomorrow?
  • Alexa, what’s the temperature?
  • Alexa, what’s the forecast this weekend?
  • Alexa, what’s the weather in Los Angeles this weekend?
  • Alexa, what’s the current moon phase?
  • Alexa, when’s the next full moon?
  • Alexa, when’s the next blue moon?

Traffic

Configure your locations in the Echo app first. Must be set for each user who desires a traffic check.

  • Alexa, how’s the traffic?

Sports Scores

  • Alexa, who won the Chicago Bulls game?
  • Alexa, when do the Detroit Red Wings play next?
  • Alexa, what was the score of the Kentucky Wildcats game?
  • Alexa, what was the score of the Seattle Sounders game?
  • Alexa, when do the San Francisco Giants play next?
  • You can get scores for in progress games too. “Alexa, who is winning the Charlotte Hornets game?” or “Alexa, how are the San Francisco Giants doing?”

NOTE: Echo supports the NFL, MLB, MLS, WNBA, NBA, NCAA basketball and NHL only at this time.

Resources

There’s a website dedicated to discussions of what the Echo can and can’t do as well as tips and hacks. It’s called EchoTalk.

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