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Who Is Alexa? What Is the Amazon Echo, and Should You Get One?

“Hey Alexa turn on my lights”

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Alexa, Amazon’s virtual personal assistant, has been around for about two years, and it keeps getting smarter and the hype continues to grow around it. It lives inside the company’s Echo smart speaker, among other devices, and offers users the ability to dictate commands to the assistant to control products throughout their home, listen to music, and more.

 

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Who/What is Alexa?

Alexa is a virtual personal assistant designed to compete with the likes of Apple’s Siri, Google Now, and others. Alexa, which was designed by Amazon’s secretive Lab126, can listen to your voice commands and respond with contextual responses to help you get the job done. Alexa can help you listen to tracks on Spotify, create to-do lists, shop, and even control your smart home products, like Google’s Nest thermostat or the Philips Hue.

How does Alexa work?

Amazon built a natural-language processing system that is one of the easiest to interact with we’ve seen. If you ask a question or deliver a command, you usually don’t have to ask twice. Part of Alexa’s success is dependent on the several very sensitive microphones built into all Echo devices. Alexa is always listening and is quick to respond.

 

What kinds of Skills are available?

With Alexa’s help (and after you add Skills), you can request a car through ride-sharing service Lyft. On the sports side, you can use Alexa to get the latest scores from your Yahoo Fantasy Football team or see who’s winning the big game with professional sports radio broadcasts, like those from Major League Baseball.

Skills also allow you to listen to radio stations, play trivia games, get lyrics support from Lyrical and much more. You can also use Alexa to get news updates, find out how your stocks are performing and, of course, control all facets of your smart home through apps such as SmartThings.

 

What devices does Alexa work on?

Amazon Alexa perhaps delivers the best experience on the Amazon Echo. However, Amazon also has brought the smart assistant to other home hubs, such as the Echo Dot and the Tap. Amazon’s Fire TV set-top box and Fire HD 8 tablet also support Alexa.

As part of its effort to broaden Alexa’s appeal, Amazon also has allowed some third parties to support Alexa. For instance, the LG SmartThinQ hub and the Pebble Core wearable come with Alexa support. An intercom called the Nucleus Anywhere also can support Alexa, and there’s a smartwatch called CoWatch that has Alexa integration.

 

Should You Purchase Alexa?

Based off what you have read I’m assuming you’re thinking about purchasing Alexa, well there is no hotter item out so I think the answer is . . . I’ll let you decide that one.

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