Who Is This Alexa, Anyway?

Let me paint you a picture…

It’s 7:32 on a Monday morning. You’re slaving over the kitchen counter, one hand feverishly cutting the crusts off a PB&J, the other dashing off an e-mail that you meant to send the night before. Your bedheaded toddler is screaming in his high chair about the Elmo toy that he just threw on the floor. From the bathroom, your husband yells that he’s all out of Head & Shoulders and your daughter, who’s 9 going on 19, moodily ambles into the kitchen in her fuzzy pajamas because she can’t possibly get dressed without hearing a full weather report.

Your mind is screaming WTF?!? But, rather than running out of the house to the closest bar… all you need to say is “Alexa.”

To get your slothy 9 year old moving, “Alexa, what’s the weather today?”

To replenish your husband’s stock of shampoo, “Alexa, order Head & Shoulders.”

To quiet your ornery toddler, “Alexa, play Elmo’s song from Sesame Street.”

BOOM.

In short, Alexa is your personal assistant meets best friend who can help you in countless ways. With thousands of skills and more added every day you can enable your device to assist you with a myriad of tasks spanning categories from news, streaming services, communication, cooking, fitness, smart home, shopping, self improvement, sports, weather, to finance.

HOW CAN ALEXA HELP ME?

By simply visiting the Alexa Skills page on Amazon.com you can browse all of the available skills by category, glance at customer favorites, see what’s top trending, and check out the skills recommended for you. You’re also able to read reviews to see what actual users think of each skill before you go ahead and click-enable the voice commands that interest you. https://commands.com/they-got-skills/

Another option is the Alexa App, which allows you to peruse available skills and customize your list just like the web version right from your smartphone or tablet.

You can also enable individual skills on your Alexa device with just the sound of your voice.

Using your voice is easy, convenient and super helpful in many situations.

Imagine you’re in your bedroom getting ready for a big meeting. You need a jolt of confidence. While you’re applying mascara or lacing up your Oxfords it’s not necessarily expedient or possible to whip out your phone, much less a laptop, to browse skills on the web or app. So, you’ve got your voice assistant and your voice. However, unless intuition tells you to ask Alexa to enable the Daily Affirmation skill, it may be time consuming and difficult to get her to provide the mojo boost you wanted. In order to enable a specific skill directly from your device, you need to know the name, at least in part, of the skill you wish to access.

So, back to the original question… Who is this Alexa, anyway?

Sometimes, she is a timesaving, entertaining, informative miracle worker who is worth every bit of the various plastics and metals that make her up (really, you can ask her). Alexa can easily arrange an Uber ride, set a timer for your hard-boiled eggs, recite a short bedtime story, and tell you how to make a mojito. Other times she can be a frustrating nuisance that breaks into your conversation when you didn’t ask for her assistance, especially if you have someone named Alexa in your life that spends any time in the same space as your device. I learned this the hard way when my 7 year old had her same-named friend over for a play date. It can also be rather annoying when Alexa doesn’t understand the question she heard or isn’t sure how to help with your request. But, in my experience her attributes far outweigh her shortcomings. Although she doesn’t always possess the knowledge you’d expect, Alexa tries her best and is learning all the time.

Now if only she could learn to pack a lunchbox.

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