As talking to smart devices to perform tasks becomes more commonplace, it is important to know which words can activate which devices. A group of these, the Echo devices from Amazon, requires the use of an Alexa wake word to awaken the device. Once awake, Alexa can help users perform numerous tasks and answer their questions. The particular wake word used can be changed to a few different options, although this was not always the case. This post will look at Alexa, which wake words she can respond to, and how to change the wake words.
Alexa The Virtual Assistant
Alexa is the virtual personal assistant found in all Amazon Echo devices, including the Echo Dot, Echo Show, and Echo Plus. Alexa can help users do a multitude of things, including check the weather, shop online, and send messages to loved ones. Certain devices, like the Echo Show, give Alexa the ability show owners their security camera footage or visually connect Echo owners to others. Owners with an Echo Plus can ask Alexa to dim their smart lights or lock their doors. While Alexa has numerous abilities, her voice capabilities are somewhat limited. Users can change Alexa’s voice, but only to English (American or UK) or German. The actual Alexa wake word does have somewhat more flexibility.
Alexa Wake Word
The Alexa wake word is what users need to say before Alexa can help them perform tasks. Traditionally, the only wake word was “Alexa”, which users need to say before they can ask the virtual assistant a question or give her a command. For instance, users cannot say “Play music”, to start a playlist, but would need to say “Alexa, play music.” Without the wake word, Alexa doesn’t know if a user is speaking to her or someone else in the room.
One interesting feature about Alexa is that she can differentiate between people’s voices. Between listening to the wake word and the command given, Alexa can know which user is speaking with her. Depending on who says the command “Alexa, play my Spotify playlist”, Alexa will know which playlist to play based on their voice. One unfortunate thing is that all Alexa users will need to agree on which wake word they want to use, because the Echo device will only respond to one word.
Change Alexa Wake Word
If users do not want to say the word “Alexa” to wake up an Echo device (maybe someone in the house’s name is Alexa), there are other options to choose from. Starting in early 2017, Amazon allowed Echo owners the ability to change the wake word to Alexa, Echo, Amazon, or Computer. There are rumors that the word Computer was made an option just for Star Trek fans. The word Computer was always used as the wake word during the series when the characters needed something from the computer. The other words are pretty obvious, although some users might feel odd calling their device Amazon.
To change the wake word, users need to first go into their Alexa app on their phone. Go to the main menu and select Settings. Then, select the device you want to change the wake word for. Scroll down and select Wake Word, and then choose which of the four words you would like to use. Select Save. When the wake word is chosen, the blue ring on the device will flash orange (yes, your device is capable of another color besides blue).
Many users have more than one Echo device in their home. One benefit of changing the wake word is that the wake word can be different for each device. This reduces the confusion between devices. This way, a user can say “Computer, play rock music” in one room and another user can say “Amazon, play country music” in a different room. Just make sure you keep track of which wake word goes to which device or else you might end up blasting rock music in the sleeping baby’s room.