Amazon Alexa has become an integral part of many households, providing a convenient and hands-free way to control smart devices, play music, and answer questions. While most people are familiar with the basic functions of Alexa, there are several underappreciated features that can enhance your Alexa experience. In this article, we will explore eight of these features and how they can make your life easier.

Routines

One of the most powerful and underutilized features of Alexa is Routines. With Routines, you can create custom commands that trigger multiple actions simultaneously. For example, you can create a routine called “Good Morning” that turns on the lights, plays your favorite news podcast, and adjusts the thermostat to your desired temperature. Routines can be scheduled to run at specific times or activated with a single voice command. This feature allows you to automate your daily tasks and streamline your morning or evening routines.

Creating Routines

To create a routine, open the Alexa app on your smartphone and navigate to the Routines section. From there, you can choose the trigger phrase, select the actions you want Alexa to perform, and customize the order in which they are executed. You can even add delays between actions to create a more natural flow. Once your routine is set up, simply say the trigger phrase to Alexa, and she will execute the actions for you.

Examples of Useful Routines

Here are a few examples of useful routines that can simplify your daily life:

  • Bedtime Routine: Dim the lights, play relaxing music, and set an alarm for the next morning.
  • Movie Night Routine: Turn off the lights, lower the blinds, and play your favorite movie on your smart TV.
  • Goodbye Routine: Lock the doors, turn off the lights, and adjust the thermostat to an energy-saving temperature.

Drop In

Drop In is a feature that allows you to instantly connect with other Alexa-enabled devices in your home or with your contacts who have granted you permission. It’s like having an intercom system that spans across different rooms or even different houses. With Drop In, you can check in on your kids in their rooms, communicate with family members in different parts of the house, or even have a conversation with a friend who has an Alexa device.

Using Drop In

To use Drop In, you need to enable the feature in the Alexa app and grant permission to the devices or contacts you want to connect with. Once set up, you can simply say, “Alexa, drop in on the living room” to instantly connect with the device in that room. You can also specify a contact’s name if they have given you permission to Drop In on their device. It’s important to note that Drop In is an opt-in feature, so you can control who can connect with your devices.

Privacy and Security

Drop In raises privacy and security concerns for some users. To address these concerns, Amazon has implemented several safeguards. By default, Drop In is disabled, and you need to explicitly enable it for each device or contact. Additionally, when Drop In is initiated, a distinct chime is played to notify everyone in the room that a connection has been established. If you prefer, you can also enable the “Announce” feature, which plays a message before the connection is established.

Whisper Mode

Whisper Mode is a feature designed to make interactions with Alexa more discreet, especially in quiet environments or during nighttime. When Whisper Mode is enabled, Alexa responds to your whispered commands or questions with a whisper of her own. This can be particularly useful when you don’t want to disturb others in the room or when you want to maintain a calm and peaceful atmosphere.

Enabling Whisper Mode

To enable Whisper Mode, open the Alexa app and navigate to the Settings menu. From there, select the device you want to enable Whisper Mode on and toggle the feature on. Once enabled, Alexa will respond to your whispered commands with a softer and more subdued voice.

Whisper Mode Limitations

While Whisper Mode can be helpful in certain situations, it’s important to note that it may not work perfectly in all cases. Whisper Mode relies on advanced machine learning algorithms to detect whispers accurately, but it may occasionally misinterpret normal speech as a whisper or fail to recognize a whispered command. If you experience any issues with Whisper Mode, you can always disable it and use the regular voice commands with Alexa.

Follow-Up Mode

Follow-Up Mode is a feature that allows you to have a more natural conversation with Alexa without having to say the wake word for every command. With Follow-Up Mode enabled, Alexa will continue listening for a few seconds after she finishes her response, giving you the opportunity to ask follow-up questions or issue additional commands without having to say “Alexa” again.

Using Follow-Up Mode

To enable Follow-Up Mode, open the Alexa app and navigate to the Settings menu. From there, select the device you want to enable Follow-Up Mode on and toggle the feature on. Once enabled, you can start a conversation with Alexa by saying the wake word, and she will continue listening for a few seconds after each response. If you want to end the conversation, simply say “thank you” or wait for Alexa to stop listening.

Limitations and Considerations

While Follow-Up Mode can be convenient, it’s important to consider the potential privacy implications. Alexa is constantly listening for the wake word, and enabling Follow-Up Mode means she will continue listening for a few seconds after each response. If you have concerns about privacy, you may prefer to disable Follow-Up Mode and manually say the wake word for each command.

Announcements

Announcements is a feature that turns your Alexa devices into an intercom system, allowing you to broadcast messages to all devices in your home simultaneously. Whether you want to gather the family for dinner or remind everyone to turn off the lights before leaving the house, Announcements can help you communicate with ease.

Broadcasting Messages

To broadcast a message, simply say “Alexa, announce” followed by your message. Alexa will then play your message on all connected devices in your home. You can also use the Alexa app to type out a message and have it broadcasted to your devices. This feature is particularly useful for families with multiple Alexa devices spread throughout the house.

Customizing Announcements

In addition to broadcasting messages, you can also customize the sound that plays when an announcement is made. The Alexa app offers a variety of sounds to choose from, allowing you to personalize the experience. Whether you prefer a simple chime or a more playful sound, you can select the one that suits your style.

Voice Profiles

Voice Profiles is a feature that allows Alexa to recognize different voices and provide personalized responses based on the user’s preferences. This is particularly useful in households with multiple users, as each person can have their own customized experience with Alexa.

Setting Up Voice Profiles

To set up a voice profile, open the Alexa app and navigate to the Settings menu. From there, select “Your Voice” and follow the prompts to train Alexa to recognize your voice. You can also add additional users and train Alexa to recognize their voices as well. Once the voice profiles are set up, Alexa will automatically switch to the appropriate profile when she recognizes the user’s voice.

Personalized Responses

With voice profiles, Alexa can provide personalized responses based on the user’s preferences. For example, if you ask Alexa to play music, she will remember your preferred music streaming service and play music from that service. If another user asks the same question, Alexa will use their preferred music streaming service instead. This feature ensures that each user gets a tailored experience with Alexa.

Brief Mode

Brief Mode is a feature that allows you to reduce Alexa’s responses to simple chimes or beeps, making interactions with Alexa more streamlined and less verbose. With Brief Mode enabled, Alexa will acknowledge your command with a short sound instead of saying “Okay” or “Sure” after each request.

Enabling Brief Mode

To enable Brief Mode, open the Alexa app and navigate to the Settings menu. From there, select the device you want to enable Brief Mode on and toggle the feature on. Once enabled, Alexa will respond with brief sounds instead of verbal confirmations.

Benefits of Brief Mode

Brief Mode can be particularly useful in situations where you want to minimize interruptions or when you prefer a more streamlined interaction with Alexa. By reducing Alexa’s responses to simple chimes, you can save time and maintain a more efficient flow of conversation.

Alexa Guard

Alexa Guard is a feature that turns your Alexa devices into home security systems, providing an extra layer of protection for your home. With Alexa Guard enabled, your devices can listen for specific sounds, such as breaking glass or smoke alarms, and send you notifications if any of these sounds are detected.

Enabling Alexa Guard

To enable Alexa Guard, open the Alexa app and navigate to the Settings menu. From there, select “Guard” and follow the prompts to set up the feature. Once enabled, your Alexa devices will start listening for specific sounds and send you notifications if any potential issues are detected.

Integration with Security Systems

Alexa Guard can also integrate with compatible security systems, allowing you to arm or disarm your security system using voice commands. This integration provides a seamless and convenient way to control your home security system without having to use a separate app or keypad.

These eight underappreciated features of Amazon Alexa can greatly enhance your smart home experience. From automating your daily routines to enhancing security, Alexa offers a wide range of capabilities that can make your life easier and more convenient. So, why not take advantage of these features and unlock the full potential of your Alexa-enabled devices?