Using Alexa is as simple as asking a question

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Alexa by Amazon is the brain behind devices such as Amazon Echo, Echo Dot and Echo Show. Using Alexa is as simple as asking a question. Alexa will respond to your question instantly. Alexa is connected to the internet, so it constantly gets updates that are delivered to your device automatically.

Alexa devices include Echo, a hands-free speaker you control with your voice. Echo connects to the Alexa Voice Service to play music, make calls or provide news, sports, and weather. It offers a speaker with seven microphones and beam forming technology so it can hear you across the room. The Echo retails at Amazon.com for $179.99. It comes in black and white and includes free shipping.

The Echo Dot works just like the Echo, but is a smaller version with less output. It retails for $49.99 at Amazon.com.

The Echo Show does everything the Echo does, plus you can watch video briefings and YouTube, see music lyrics, security cameras, photos, weather forecasts, to-do and shopping lists, browse and listen to Audible audiobooks and more.

Ask Alexa to show you the front door or monitor the baby’s room with compatible cameras from Ring and Arlo, turn on lights or the television, control thermostats and more with WeMo, Philips Hue, Sony, ecobee and other compatible smart home devices. The Echo Show retails for $229.99 and comes in black or white.

Any Echo device can be linked to music, such as Amazon Music, Pandora, iHeartRadio, and Spotify Premium. You can ask Alexa to play a specific song or ask for music by genre, mood or era. You can also listen to audio books or podcasts. It’s a simple as saying, “Alexa, play 80s music.”

Making calls with Alexa is easy. Once you’ve synced your contacts in the free Alexa App, just ask Alexa to place a call. Alexa will also let you know when someone is calling with a green light that will appear on your supported Echo device. You can ask Alexa to answer or ignore the call. With Echo Show, you’ll also be able to make video calls. You can call or message for free to anyone who has a supported Echo device or Alexa app on their smart phone. Simply ask, “Alexa, call mom.”

You can use Alexa to send and receive messages by telling Alexa what you’d like to say and she’ll send it. You’ll hear a chime when you have a new message and a yellow light will appear on your device. You’ll also be notified in the Alexa App, so you can stay in touch wherever you are.

Special features include:

Flash Briefing that lets you put together a personalized lineup of updates from news sources like NPR, CNN, Fox News and CNET by asking, “Alexa, what’s the news?”

Alexa can set your commute start and stop points and tell you how long your commute will take that day.

Ask Alexa how the weather’s looking. With Echo Show, you can see times for alternate routes and the extended forecast by asking, “Alexa, what is the weekend forecast.”

Get scores and schedules for major sports leagues or set up a personalized sports ppdate to keep tabs on your favorite teams. “Alexa, who won the Bronco’s game?”

Alexa can tell you movie show times at theaters near you. “Alexa, what movies are playing?”

Alexa taps into Yelp to provide you with info on local restaurants, shops, and other businesses. You can ask Alexa, “What gluten free restaurants are nearby?”

Get fast facts on all types of topics. “Alexa, Wikipedia Canyon Lake.”

Alexa makes a great calculator and dictionary. “Alexa, spell Goetz Road.”

Whether you’re cooking in the kitchen or snoozing in the bedroom, Alexa can keep an eye on the clock. “Alexa, set a timer for 17 minutes.”

Every Alexa account comes with shopping and to-do lists. Use your voice to add items. “Alexa, add bananas to my shopping list” or “Alexa, put call my Realtor on my to-do list.”

Link a calendar from Google, G Suite, iCloud, Outlook.com or Office365 to add or check your upcoming events. Go to Settings in your

Prime members can use Alexa to order Prime-eligible items from Amazon. Reordering is a super simple. Just ask, “Alexa, reorder paper towels” or “Alexa, add milk to my cart.”

Switch on a light or fan without getting out of bed by using Alexa Smart Home Store and purchase items such as Philips Hue bulbs.

With Echo Show, you can also see live video feeds from compatible smart cameras. Choose a compatible Smart Home connected device from the

Whether your party is into cards, board games or role-playing, Alexa can help. “Alexa, flip a coin” or “Alexa, tell me a joke.”

Alexa and the Amazon Echo devices can make any home a smart home. Once you have one, you’ll see why everyone is saying “Alexa.”

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Kerry Keith