Alexa: Amazon’s Personal Voice Assistant Explained


Amazon’s Alexa has become synonymous with products such as Amazon Echo, and has been one of the main selling points for devices such as the Amazon Fire TV.

It is the name users call out to when they have a question – as long as they have an Amazon Echo.

The virtual assistant has been incorporated into numerous Amazon products, and it is slowly but progressively colonizing third party devices such as the GE lamp.

Now in its second generation, Alexa continues to enhance its digital-assistant capabilities. Today, we are going to explore this innovative technology and discover how it actually works.

What Is Alexa?

Alexa is basically a virtual assistant that was originally designed for the Amazon Echo smart speakers. It can be activated by saying the wake-word “Alexa” into the Echo.

Once it is “awake,” you can request any task you want with a simple voice command.

This includes music playback, voice interaction, playing audiobooks, streaming podcasts, setting alarms, and making to-do lists.

The Echo comes with a powerful microphone that utilizes what is known as “far-field” technology, allowing you to control it from a distant.

What Are Its Uses?

Alexa has a wide range of functions. She can provide weather reports from various news and weather channels, and can stream music from your Amazon Music account as long as it is integrated into your device.

Alexa can also play music from Google Play Music and Apple Music, and other streaming services via your tablet or phone.

She can manage voice-controlled timers, alarms, and to-do lists, as well as access Wikipedia articles for information.

It is also possible to order take-out food using Alexa. This service is supported by various fast food franchises such as Wingstop, Seamless, Pizza Hut, Grubhub, and Domino’s Pizza.

UK users can actually use the virtual assistant to order meals from Just Eat. At least twenty major US cities allow Alexa users to order meals via Amazon Prime Now.

Alexa’s functionality extends to calls and messaging too. There are various ways you can send messages using Alexa.

The virtual assistant can deliver messages to another user’s Alexa application and any of their Echo gadgets, as long as they are linked to their Amazon account. The text is delivered as voice message.

Unfortunately, Alexa does not have the ability to send attachments like photos or videos.

Those who are business-minded can take advantage of Alexa for Business — a surcharged subscription service that allows companies to schedule meeting rooms and join conference calls using Alexa.

What Can You Do With Alexa?

There are thousands of things that Alexa can do. The Alexa app has a feature called “Skills” that allows you to customize the Echo device with your preferred capabilities.

The “Skills” section has numerous skill categories, including Smart Home, Music and Audio, Travel and Transportation, Food and Drink, Connected Car, and many more.

Getting started is as simple as tapping the “Enable Skill” function once you have found the right command prompt.

You may have to subscribe or link to an existing account in order to use some applications.

For instance, Uber with Alexa requires you to sign into your Uber account before making your request.

Here are some of the things you can ask from Alexa:

  • “Alexa, what is the weather in Sidney?”
  • “Alexa, ask The New York Times for the recent sports news”
  • “Alexa, what is on my schedule today?”
  • “Alexa, read my last audiobook”
  • “Alexa, play Fun from Amazon Music”

The Music, Video, and Books segment provides access to all sorts of media that can be controlled by Alexa.

While the default source is Amazon accounts, you can actually request media from other platforms using the virtual assistant – but you have to specify the source when making your request.

Audible, which is one of the biggest sources of audiobooks and is owned by Amazon, provides a wide range of options when you are interested in listening to an e-book.

You can ask Alexa to continue reading from where you left off or simply start another book.

There are various controls that allow you to skip to a particular chapter to set a timer for when it should stop reading.

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