Amazon Echo and Alexa – the definitive guide

New to Amazon Echo or Amazon Alexa, or simply want to know more about how to make the most of Amazon’s platform? You’re in the right place! In this guide we take a closer look at the Amazon Echo family and Amazon Alexa to help you take your experience to the next level.

Amazon Echo vs Alexa – what’s the difference?

Odds are you’ve heard of Amazon’s Alexa before, considering it has a massive presence in TV commercials, website advertisements, and is increasingly finding its way into more and more consumer devices. You probably also heard of the Amazon Echo smart speaker. But when it comes to Amazon Echo vs Alexa, what’s the difference? Good question.

Alexa is Amazon’s virtual assistant, and its main competitors are Google Assistant and Siri. Alexa is available on smartphonessmart speakers, computers, tablets, and a growing number of other smart devices. With Alexa you can play music, check the weather, shop online with just your voice, control your smart home, and so much more.

As for Amazon Echo? Well that’s a specific line of smart speakers built by Amazon that are powered by the Alexa assistant. Now that we have the differences straightened out, let’s dive in a bit deeper.

Related: Amazon Echo vs Google Home vs Apple HomePod

How to get Alexa

The cheapest way to experience Amazon Alexa is to download an app for your phone, tablet, or PC.

The other route is to buy a device with Alexa support baked in. Smart speakers are the obvious path forward, with your choice between an Amazon Echo speaker or an Amazon Alexa-capable speaker built by a third party. There are  also plenty of unique devices that have Alexa support including smart TVs, fridges, thermostats, and more.

How to use Alexa: setup, commands, and skills

So now you know what Alexa is, let’s talk about how to use it. First things, first – you’ll want to check out our guide on how to set up your Amazon Echo or third party Alexa device.

After you’ve set up your Alexa device, it’s time to learn more about what Amazon’s popular assistant is capable of.

Amazon Alexa commands

To really take advantage of Alexa to the fullest, you need to know all the commands available to you. This includes commands for checking the weather, setting timers, playing music, finding restaurants, shopping, and the list goes on.

Here are some of the most common commands:

“Alexa, let’s chat.”
“Alexa, what’s the weather?”
“Alexa, what’s my flash briefing.”
“Alexa, what’s the traffic like?”
“Alexa, set an alarm for…”
“Alexa, set a timer for X minutes.”
“Alexa, what time is it?”
“Alexa, what’s the date?”
“Alexa, cancel the alarm.”
“Alexa, show my calendar.”
“Alexa, play some music.”
“Alexa, play music by [artist].”
“Alexa, set the volume to [1 through 10].”
“Alexa, find me a nearby [food type] restaurant.”
“Alexa, what restaurants are near me?”
“Alexa, order [product].”
“Alexa, ask Uber to request a ride” or “Alexa, ask Lyft for a ride.”
“Alexa, shop for new music by [artist].
“Alexa, track my order.”
“Alexa, buy more laundry detergent.”
“Alexa, search for [artist] on Amazon.”

That’s just a small sampling of what commands are out there. For the full list, head our to our Amazon Alexa commands guide.

Further reading:

Amazon Alexa skills

Alexa skills are basically third-party apps that add new functionality to your Alexa powered devices. Some of them are for increasing productivity, others are simple games, skills for controlling your TV and smart home devices, and more.

Some of our favorites include the following:

That’s just a short list, as there are thousands of skills available for Alexa. You can find the complete list over at Amazon, and be sure to check out our list of the best Amazon Alexa games.

Further reading:

Upgrade your Alexa experience with compatible accessories

As you can see, Alexa is capable of a lot, but we’re still scratching the surface. Alexa can be the center of your smart home experience by adding handy Alexa-compatible devices including fridges, thermostats, furniture, lighting, and more. Of course you may still need a hub to make all this magic work, unless you have a hubless smart device to connect up or happen to have the Echo Plus – which features a built-in hub.

Here is a very small sample of some of the compatible products:

Amazon has a dedicated Works with Alexa page on its website to find even more.

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