New Products and Features: Amazon has a slew of new Echo devices ready for pre-order and exciting features like updates to Alexa Hunches and celebrity voices like Samuel L. Jackson.
Most people use Alexa for practical applications like setting timers or building shopping lists, but we wanted to see how many hidden features Alexa has to offer.
Armed with a Second Generation Echo and an Echo Show, we hunted for Alexa’s hidden talents and extras. During our testing, we found some useful (and not so useful) features.
Cheer on Your Favorite Teams
Did you know Alexa is a sports fan? Not only can you get the schedule and odds for upcoming games, but you can also set up a betting pool for your fantasy league.
A recent update also allows Alexa to provide local scores upon request and cheer on your kids’ team. If you have smart lights, Alexa can change them to match the colors of your favorite team. Add some snacks, and you’ve got an awesome game night ahead of you.
Play Games with Alexa
Like the apps on your phone or tablet, Amazon Echo has all sorts of abilities to unlock via “Alexa Skills.” Alexa has story games, word games, trivia, and quizzes you can take by simply asking. We found an adventure game called Hunt the Yeti that took us through a dark cave in search of a monster (unfortunately, it found us first).
Alexa Skills aren’t just limited to games. You can enable Skills for health, media, cooking, and your smart home too.
It’s common knowledge that Amazon Echos play music, but did you know Alexa performs its own music?
If you ask politely, Alexa can sing original songs and even perform barbershop quartet songs alone. You can also ask for a song of the day when you aren’t sure what to play or to sample an artist to see if they suit your taste.
Dad Jokes, Limericks, and Riddles
Alexa is full of silly puns, dad jokes, limericks, poems, and riddles. Amazon also partnered with Jimmy Fallon so Alexa can play parts of his monologues and jokes.
The Amazon Echo is a big fan of pop culture too. It knows responses to famous quotes from Star Wars, Star Trek, Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, and other iconic references.
There’s not much Alexa doesn’t have a reply to. Thanks to the sleuths on Reddit, we found a few extra eggs to try with your Echo.
Katie asking Alexa to speak faster, and faster, and faster!
Try some of these tricks:
“Alexa, speak faster.”
“Alexa, give me a hard-boiled Easter egg.”
“Alexa, what’s the loneliest number?”
“Alexa, who you gonna call?”
“Alexa, what is your quest?”
“Alexa, what does the fox say?”
Alexa can also be a helpful study buddy when you need one. Ask her about definitions, spelling, basic and advanced math, metric and imperial conversions, and other problems tripping you up. While she can give you the answers to a lot of questions, you still have to show your work.
Alexa in the Kitchen
The Alexa Show is a staple in many people’s kitchens. Looking up recipes and setting timers isn’t a hidden Alexa gem, but there are a few tricks you might not know. The Alexa Wine Finder can help you pair your meal with the right kind of wine—just ask. If dinner doesn’t work out the way you planned or cooking isn’t on the menu for the night, you can always ask for restaurant hours for top-rated spots nearby.
Mindfulness and Health
Alexa can help you keep your mind and body healthy with a few tricks. Ask your Echo for meditation guidance for a quick moment of quiet. Your voice assistant will guide you through breathing exercises to sharpen your focus and keep you calm throughout the day. If workouts are more your speed, Alexa can learn skills like the 7-minute workout that will guide you through a basic total-body training regimen.
You can add both of these skills to Alexa’s routines. This feature allows you to program your Echo with a series of commands based on a phrase you say. For example, when you tell Alexa good morning, she can give you news, traffic, a guided meditation, and remind you to start your workout, all with one command phrase.
Alexa’s Home Automation Skills
It’s no secret that Alexa is helpful when it comes to home automation. A smart hub like Amazon Echo can help you start automating your home by acting as the brain for your smart home system. It connects all the components so you can control them from your phone or tablet.
Alexa is compatible with an impressive range of smart home devices and brands. From smart light bulbs and wall outlets to garage door openers and security systems, you can set up routines from Alexa and control them from the Echo app.
How Real People Use Alexa
We asked a few of our coworkers how they used their Amazon Echo. These were our favorite answers.
“Two words: ‘Baby Shark’” —Jesse
“She controls the lights in my bedroom, I make her set alarms for me, I have her play rain noises when I sleep, I ask her the weather every morning, and I use her to play music from Spotify like Randi.” —Riana
“We’ve used her to help sing happy birthday.” —Kaylee
“I have the main one in my kitchen, then the smaller ones downstairs at my bar, and another downstairs in my son’s room. I use it as an intercom system to tell our son it’s time to eat, or to get in the shower cause it’s time for bed, etc. And of course, my 7-year-old daughter uses Alexa to tell her jokes, and will ask arbitrary questions like, ‘how many brains does an earthworm have?’” —Jason
“I asked Alexa to make me a sandwich, and she said, ‘Poof. You’re a sandwich.’” - Brianne
“Alexa turns off my light, plays music, and reads the news to me while I’m cooking. Also, recently started having her add grocery items to my Prime Now cart which has been soooo handy.” —Tina
Written by Katie McEntire
Since 2013, Katie has written marketing copy, long-form posts, reviews, and blogs. She began her career as a writer and reviewer with the mission to recommend only the best products for her readers. She’s designed tests, evaluated products, and written reviews on a range of subjects such as appliances, power tools, and software. Today, she applies these research and writing skills on the SafeWise team to explore the world of home, auto, and internet security. Learn more