Amazon’s Echo speaker is in more and more homes. But there are a few things you should know before you start dating your new roommate, Alexa.

Alexa and her home, Amazon’s Echo speaker, are now in countless households. But no matter how intuitive the use of voice is, there are a few things you should know before you start using it.

Without the right Alexa app, Amazon Echo doesn’t even work. With the app available for Android and iOS, you don’t just set up Echo. There you can also customize Echo to your own taste. Settings can be found by tapping the three lines in the top left of the Alexa app and then selecting Settings.

Amazon Echo is listening all the time – here you can hear what it’s recording.

An echo just for me

You can also personalize the Echo in the settings. For example, by teaching him his location. You can also enter your work route to ask about the traffic situation in the morning. And you can customize your daily summary and add sports news or celebrity gossip. So Alexa has exactly the information ready that you really want to have.

How child-friendly is Alexa?

Amazon attaches great importance to the fact that Alexa also gets along well with the little ones. She always remains polite, even the jokes are always suitable for children’s ears. However, there is no explicit parental control. When the little ones make a wish for gangster rap or ask for the answer to their math homework, Alexa will make the wish without hesitation. You should always keep that in mind. The biggest danger: if you are not careful, the children will accidentally buy something on Amazon.

How to prevent accidental purchases

From the factory, Alexa can easily order products over the network. To prevent accidental – or clandestine – shopping sprees, select “Voice Shopping” in the settings. Now you can either switch off the purchase via Alexa completely or set a PIN code that blocks the purchases. Since you have to say it out loud in front of Alexa, it doesn’t stay secret from the children for long. At least you don’t buy by mistake anymore.

Alexa without Prime

Voice purchases are only available to active Prime customers. However, the Echo also works well without Amazon’s premium subscription, but then has a few fewer functions, such as music playback via Amazon Music. Instead, you can use Spotify or Apple Music, for example, or listen to the radio via Tune-In. In the settings under “Music” you can select a service other than Amazon Music as the default.

Use Spotify correctly

Unfortunately, not every Spotify user can also listen to music via the Echo: a paid premium subscription to the streaming service is required. When listening to music via Spotify, it is not enough to tell Alexa a title and artist – the addition “…on Spotify” must always be added.

Skills are the new apps

Skills are to Alexa what apps are to smartphones. They expand the range of functions considerably. Alexa can, for example, call a taxi via “Free Now” or have the news read out by one of the Tagesschau moderators via “Tagesschau”. New skills can be found in the app. In order to specifically start a skill, however, you have to explicitly ask Alexa to do so, for example “Alexa, ask the chef for a recipe for apple pie.” If you don’t do that, Alexa will try to find the right one on her own.

stay clear

In order for Alexa to be able to follow you, you should speak commands simply and clearly, even if Alexa can handle dialects. If the assistant gets to know her owner better, you can start mumbling at some point. If you express yourself too complicated, the smart computer is overwhelmed even with the best High German.

Alexa Stop!

If Alexa doesn’t understand anything at all or accidentally starts, you can silence her immediately with the simple exclamation “Alexa Stop” and reset the command. After that you can calmly start over.

belongs away

Even though the Echo is always listening, it’s really just waiting for its code word. If you want to protect your privacy from accidental overhearing for a certain period of time, you can switch off the microphone completely with the mute button. The device then lights up red to indicate that it is no longer listening. Only when you press the button again does Echo listen to your word again.

Baptize Alexa differently

By the way, you can change which code word Alexa reacts to. Very handy if there is an Alexa or an Alex in the household. The option can be found in the settings under the name of the respective echo. But you shouldn’t be very creative. In addition to Alexa, there are “Amazon”, “Echo” and – based on the model of “Star Trek” – “Computer” to choose from. The “Ziggy” option has recently been added.

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Also read:

– Google employees systematically listen to speech loudspeakers

– So far, Amazon has only been in our living rooms: the group now wants to change that

– Voice speaker malfunction: Witch laugh scares Alexa users