The Amazon Alexa app is the companion to every Alexa-enabled device. You can do everything from setting up the assistant, remote control, to managing your media and enabling enhanced features. It’s free to download, albeit only from US app stores, for the time being. Being a lightweight app, it doesn’t deter from the actual experience users get from their Alexa device. The in-app version of Amazon’s virtual assistant can perform almost an identical set of functions. Providing information about people, locations, dates, media, events and more, as well as updating you on the news of the day through the Flash Briefing and so on – it’s all there.
Due to the fact that the app is more of a sidekick to the actual, Echo-cased Alexa we’ve come to know, some functions have limited capabilities. For instance, management of smart home devices works up to a certain degree as the app isn’t really built for that. However, you can certainly upgrade the personal assistant through a number of available Alexa skills that allow you to play a game, order an Uber ride and so on. All in all, the main purpose of Alexa app is to change and customize your Alexa experience. With the voice agent’s grand scope of work, that’s easier said than done. An all-encompassing Alexa can be more than overwhelming at times with a plethora of options. That is why we’ll make things easier and list further down the most important aspects and functions of the app.
Where to download the Amazon Alexa app
As we mentioned previously, due to geographical restrictions, the Alexa app is only available for download from U.S. app stores. That means, head on to Amazon Appstore, Google Play, or Apple App Store to get it on your mobile device. In terms of compatibility, the app is available for Fire OS 3.0 or higher, Android 5.0 or higher, and iOS 9.0 or higher. Users with Alexa-enabled Fire tablets should receive the app automatically. The updated version now allows users to call and message Amazon Echo and Echo Dot owners, as well as everyone with the Alexa App on their smartphones. Thus, make sure you are up to date by heading over to the proper store and checking for the Update button. If there is no button, you are running the latest version of the app.
Amazon Alexa App: Setting it up
Upon download and installation, there is no particular need to set up the app in the traditional sense. It functions as intended right from the get go. What you want to do is customize it to your liking by changing a few default options or enabling/disabling others. As with the majority of apps, Home screen is the central hub of the app. It shows everything you do with the assistant – descriptions of your recent Alexa interactions, Alexa-to-Alexa calling and messaging conversations, media management, and others. From there, you select the ubiquitous Menu icon to tinker with Alexa’s features and settings. And Settings is exactly what you need to open as that’s where the real Alexa lies, sort of. Think of this from a different angle. If you want to get the most out of your virtual assistant, you’ll need to spend some time tweaking the app’s settings.
Upon selecting Settings in the menu, you will see a list of all of your Alexa devices. Do note that available options vary by device. Some settings are specific and may not apply to all devices, while others do. Voice Training option is universal and you definitely want to use it. This will improve Alexa’s speech recognition, albeit only on Echo, Echo Dot, and Amazon Tap as those are the only devices that support Voice Training. The premise is simple – you’ll get 25 different phrases to say out loud. The key is to speak as you normally would from a usual position (distance matters) relative to the device. This will provide the best results and fine-tune Alexa to your voice commands.
With that sorted out, let’s see what more you can do to personalize and enhance your experience.
Alexa Amazon App: Tons of useful options
For instance, you can change the name of your device. It’s a rather helpful option if you have more than one Alexa-powered device because it eases their management. The default name is tied to your first name and the product’s name. Thus, John’s Echo or John’s 2nd Echo can be renamed according to the room they’re in or any way you like. You can also change the wake word (something we’ve talked about a few times before) if you don’t fancy the default “Alexa”.
One handy option is setting a sound every time Alexa is listening and another, different one for when it completes a command. This reduces dependence on the visual factor ie. eyeing the LED ring around the top of Echo (or any other, for that matter) to see if Amazon’s assistant is done with your request. Be sure to set your street address for more refined local information. This is particularly desirable for services like traffic and weather updates that are location-specific.
Then, we have Drop-In feature, part of a mid-summer update to both Echo devices and the Alexa app. The general idea is to drop in on another user at any given time. Primarily a family-friendly option through the use of speakers as household intercoms or baby monitors, the feature does have its intrusive side. If enabled on a particular device, a caller is able to instantly start listening and/or watching what’s happening on the other end. Drop In is disabled by default and you can turn it on for a specific device or allow a specific contact to get the scoop at any time. Additionally, you can restrict it to calls from only within your household. Speaking of the household, users can switch profiles by adding a person to Household Profiles. Hooray, Alexa for everyone!
Changing the default services
Alexa app is also the place to switch from defaults to different options and services. Naturally, Amazon’s own services are heavily favored and set as the primary options. For instance, Amazon Music is the go-to music service when requesting a song. Whether you want to stream your music or listen to radio stations, you can link other services to Alexa and set them as defaults, provided you have accounts with them. The same goes for setting Flash Briefing to your liking. Instead of the default NPR, there are more than 2000 available news sources to choose from. This includes local news organizations, another reason why you should immediately set your address. Sports is one more area where you can customize the updates. Via the Sports Update setting, you can receive news for any pro or college team, sorted by specific sport.
Alexa Skills are additional capabilities that create a more personalized and enriching experience. There are more than 15,000 available skills found in the Alexa Skills store, organized in more than 20 categories. You can even get Alexa for your car! While some have very little to offer, the huge selection includes something for everyone. Open the Alexa app, go to the menu, and select Skills, where you can also manage them. Whether you want to stay organized and on track with Google Calendar, order an Uber ride, get a recipe from Campbell’s Kitchen, play a round of Jeopardy or usher in the ever-expanding smart home management, there’s always a handful of skills worth checking out. And, if you have no idea where to start, try the Skill Finder skill. It will help you discover Alexa’s newest and top skills, as well as those on a category-by-category basis.
Delete your history
Once you give it a go with all these tips and tricks, know that you can delete your every interaction with Alexa. Amazon keeps a cloud-based record of every communication you have with its virtual assistant. However, for privacy reasons, there is an option to delete single interactions. Single is the key word here. It’s easy enough to erase all the data but refrain from doing that if you can. Why? Because basically, you’d be wiping Alexa’s specialized memory, the one that has all the relevant information to better assist you. It wouldn’t be the end of the world, just an unnecessary hassle of starting all over again.
To begin deleting your recordings, tap the menu button to enter the sidebar. Select Settings > History, where you will see all audio recordings. You can also playback them and provide feedback regarding Alexa’s understanding and performance. Select the recording you want to delete and tap the Delete voice recordings. If you want to erase all recordings, you have to visit your Amazon account online and select a specific Alexa device you want to clean up.
The power of Alexa app
Perhaps the most impressive part is that this post highlights only a smaller part of the app’s abilities. It is conceived so that both newcomers and tech-savvy users feel right at home from the beginning. For instance, one of the options found in the Menu is Things to Try. This helps users get started with Alexa as it provides a list of example phrases to begin interaction. The intuitive interface helps control every aspect of the intelligent agent, from managing your media to managing your home. Every interaction with the Alexa-enabled device is automatically mirrored visually on the Alexa app. Thus, a user has more information on the go and a clear overview of the given command. But the best thing about Alexa, or any other assistant, is that it learns more and more each passing day. As such, it’s well worth your time exploring.