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Everything you need to know about the Amazon Echo

http://enterblack.com/1818.php Now we've got the required software, it's time to get the Amazon Echo hardware itself set up. Take the speaker and turn it over to find the power jack, then take the Echo's power adapter and plug it into the power jack on the Echo speaker. Finally, take the power adapter's other end and plug it into the wall.

Your Amazon Echo now has power, and should start glowing as it configures itself. We're on our way to setting it up. Once your Echo is connected to the mains, you'll have to wait a couple of seconds for it to initialize. Its light ring will turn blue for a couple of moments, then switch to orange, and then play a short audio greeting.

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At this point the Amazon Echo is ready for the final setup step. Next, open the Alexa app you downloaded earlier on your phone or tablet, then tap the cog-shaped icon in the bottom-right to get to Settings for the next set up stage. Select 'Set up a new device' to start the Wi-Fi connection process. You now need to teach the Echo how to log into your home Wi-Fi, so it can get online on its own in future. Next, select which Amazon Echo speaker you want to set up.

For the purposes of this guide we've been assuming that you're setting up a full-size Amazon Echo, but these instructions will also work just as well if you're setting up the mini Echo Dot, the Echo Plus, or even the battery-powered Amazon Tap the four are all controlled through the same app. Select the right device, and then pick the correct language from the next page.

Select 'Connect to Wi-Fi' from the next page to continue the set up process and get connected: If not, you'll have to hold the 'action button' for five seconds first to put the device into setup mode. With that done, you'll need to hop out of the Alexa app and into your phone's own settings menu. Go to Wi-Fi settings.

New Alexa features incoming

Since this is an Amazon device, you can also use an Amazon Fire tablet to configure your Echo for its first use if you have one at home. Alexa does store voice recordings in the cloud, which again could theoretically be accessed in an attack. If you have any kind of Amazon Echo device other than the Echo Plus, you will need to set up those devices as per the manufacturers' instructions, then head to the Skills tab within the Alexa app. By default, the wake word for every Echo device is Alexa. Open the Alexa app, slide out the left menu, and select Settings. Be respectful, keep it civil and stay on topic. Its mix of top-drawer voice recognition and the sheer number of supported devices that play nicely within its ecosystem makes it an extremely powerful gateway to the smart home.

The Auto, oddly, is available by invitation only, but you'll get it for half price if you make the cut. It supports PlayStation Vue streaming, but this is otherwise an over-the-air box that can both record shows or fire them straight at another device.

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To use it, you'll need a Fire TV device. Since one of the more popular uses for Alexa is setting timers, Amazon has now decided to give us the Echo Wall Clock. The smart clock gives users a way to visualize the timers they set, with LED lights running around the face. Alexa isn't built in here, but you are able to sync up and existing device and connect to the Wall Clock through Bluetooth. There's no details regarding a release, but you can sign up for updates through Amazon. There you were, thinking you would have to go without Alexa in your microwave for another year. Well, hopscotch, luckily for you, the AmazonBasics Microwave is here to help.

This isn't native Alexa, but you can sync up your Alexa devices through Bluetooth and ask it to cook your ready meals. Another example of Amazon using it's assistant to make regular devices smart. The smart doorbell works exclusively with the Amazon Echo Show, the first Alexa-powered device with a screen. When someone rings your doorbell, the video feed will be displayed on your Echo Show, so you can screen important callers from annoying timewasters. Like Nest, the smart thermostat can be controlled using baked in Alexa integrations — but Alexa control permeates the Hive experience.

Control of Hive plugs and bulbs is also part and parcel of the experience, making it one of the most complete smart home systems available. Alexa has been able to control Philips Hue bulbs since the get-go. Not only does that mean turning your lights on and off, but you can quickly change tone and hue, as well as setting pre-loaded scenes.

The integration enables you to play music in specific rooms of your house, and play, pause and adjust volume. If you have any kind of Amazon Echo device other than the Echo Plus, you will need to set up those devices as per the manufacturers' instructions, then head to the Skills tab within the Alexa app.

Download the required skill for your device, sign in, and you'll then give Alexa control of that device. Paired devices will then appear within the Smart Home section of the app. Check out our full guide to adding and controlling devices with your smart speaker. Where things get really smart with using Amazon Alexa as a smart home hub is that it can take over control of a host of devices. By creating groups from within the Smart Home element of the Alexa app you can add any device into a single group, which can be controlled by voice. Choose Smart Home Group and give it a name.

Tick the devices you'd like to add, and then you're done. A fine example is lighting, where you can add all your bulbs from the downstairs into one group and control it with "Alexa, turn off downstairs lights", before you go to bed for example. Of course, you might not want every light turned off or on, so you can also separate them into other groups: Alexa will also detect and import set scenes which have already been set up within specific ecosystems.

What does Alexa do? And how does it work?

During a scan of your network, scenes will be added to the Alexa app, as long as they're set up and you've installed the relevant skills. A new Alexa feature is Routines, which enable you to merge multiple smart home actions into one command. That could mean saying "Alexa, bedtime" and having all your downstairs lights turn off, and your bedroom lights turn on. This differs to Groups because a Routine can control the state of a device e.

Check out our guide to Alexa Routines for a guide to setting yours up. Just tell Alexa using the following commands. When you've been using Alexa for a while, she can get a little verbose for common commands. Enable Brief Mode and you can replace a lot of what she says with a simple beep — you won't look back. Enable Alexa for guests. Alexa doesn't have a guest-mode like Google Assistant quite yet, but if you want visitors to your home or Airbnb customers to enjoy the benefits of your Echo speaker, you can fudge it using Amazon Blueprints.

Follow our guide to find out how. Master multi-rom audio with multiple Echo devices. Music is a huge part of Alexa's make-up — and it does a pretty good Sonos impression, letting you play fully in sync music across multiple Echo speakers. This means you can move between rooms in your house and get a good audio experience, or do a better job of filling sound in a big room.

Alexa can listen out for suspicious activity such as b reaking glass or smoke alarms, and alert you if it hears something. This only works in the US for now. Turn on Alexa's Whisper Mode. With whisper mode, Alexa will respond more softly if you, well, whisper your command, instead of speaking normally.

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Okay, a non-useful but really interesting tip to start. Alexa has a ton of accents to choose from and you can change them within the app. Australian, Indian, British, Canadian — the list is expanding quickly. We've also made a list of all the Amazon Alexa accents if you're curious. Use Apple Music on your Amazon Echo. Apple surprised us all by giving Echo users access to its music service, meaning you can control all your Apple Music tracks using your voice.

Check out our guide to get it set up. Use Alexa EQ to change bass and treble. A new feature enables you to ask Alexa to change audio levels including bass and treble. Read our guide for a list of commands you can ask. There's an almost exhaustive list of smart home tech compatible with Alexa, but there's still plenty trying to go it alone.

Use Alexa to control Sonos speakers. While there are Sonos speakers with Alexa built in, you can get the features retrospectively. The Alexa Sonos skill enables you to take voice control of any of the company's speakers — check out our guide to every Alexa Sonos command you need to know. Set Spotify as your primary music source.

Spotify users have probably noticed that the Amazon Echo doesn't have a skill. Well, you can set Spotify as your Echo's default music service. Some people will be surprised to know that Amazon stores recordings of your voice in the cloud, which not everyone will be comfortable with. If you want rid, you can delete all voice data by heading to www.

Check out our guide on how to delete your Amazon Echo voice data for a full run-down. Change the Alexa wake word. Want Alexa to respond to a different name? You can change the wake word to 'Computer' or a whole range of things. Go on, dare to be different. The Alexa Calling feature enables you to make calls between Alexa devices or via the Alexa app — newly supported on iOS, Android phones and tablets, including Amazon Fire products as well. To make an Alexa call you can just ask "Alexa call [contact name]," or go to the Conversations tab within the Alexa app and pick a contact from there.

You can only call contacts in your phone book who have themselves own an Amazon Echo speaker and have registered for the service.

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Drop In works slightly differently. Drop In with Alexa enables you to call and talk to another Alexa speaker, without anyone answering the call. This is essentially an intercom between rooms in your house. Just say "Alexa, drop in on the [say Echo device name]" to be patched into other areas of your home, and immediately get two-way audio.

There's no opt-in approval for Drop In within registered Echo devices on your network.. And there's one final way Drop In works. You can Drop In to any of your contacts who own an Amazon Echo speaker — but they have to opt-in to the service first.

Given that your friends and family can essentially wiretap your home it's not a hugely popular. Amazon sees outside developers as a huge part of the Alexa strategy, and it's making considerable efforts to make it as easy as possible for manufacturers to build Alexa into their devices. Amazon doesn't care which voice-activated device you buy -- just so long as you're talking to Alexa.

The Echo had the market to itself for about a year before any real competition showed up. But these days, the smart speaker category is about as crowded as it gets. Amazon doesn't have anything that matches the Max speaker, at least not yet. Other notable competitors include the Cortana-powered Invoke smart speaker from Harman Kardon, and also the abundance of third-party speakers that make use of Alexa or the Google Assistant to offer a fully developed voice interface. Most noteworthy among these: We've covered the basics, so let's take a look at some of Alexa's more advanced features and how they stack up against the competition:.

You can train Alexa to recognize different voices, which lets her offer responses tailored to the individual user. You can also use this to keep your kids from making voice purchases -- just know that the feature isn't foolproof. Arguably one of Alexa's most useful features, Routines let you trigger multiple things all at once using a single, customizable voice command.

For instance, saying "Alexa, good morning" could simultaneously turn several smart lights on while Alexa reads the day's weather forecast. You can also create custom Alexa commands using the free online automation service IFTTT , but they'll each need to start with the word "trigger," as in, "Alexa, trigger party mode. Plus, with Google home, no "trigger" word is necessary. If you like, you can authorize specific contacts to "drop in" on your Echo device to check in on you, or just use the feature like an intercom system from room to room.

That'll let your contacts listen and talk through your speaker or view the camera feed if you're using an Echo Show or an Echo Spot without any input from you. Sounds creepy, yes, but it might make sense if you want to use an Echo device to keep an eye on a mischievous kid or an aging parent. Alexa will also let you "announce" things to the other Echo devices under your roof -- a useful way to tell the family that dinner's ready.

Always forgetting birthdays or other little pieces of info? You can ask Alexa to remember them for you. For instance, just say, "Alexa, remember that Kevin's shoe size is 8" and when it's time to buy your kid new shoes, you can just ask, "Alexa, what is Kevin's shoe size? The entire lineup of Echo devices can connect to external speakers using Bluetooth or a 3. That's especially nice with the Echo Dot, which is a pretty puny speaker on its own.

Echo setup step 1: get everything you need

The Google Home and Google Home Mini don't have an aux jack for corded connections with external speakers, but they can connect over Bluetooth. Entertainment is an ever-increasing point of focus for Alexa. Echo devices can already act as voice remotes for Fire TV streamers and for compatible smart TVs from names like Vizio , and we're also seeing more and more content providers taking advantage of Amazon's software development kit for video playback controls.

That's led to integrations with services like Dish and Logitech Harmony that let you channel surf using your voice.

More services like them are certain to follow suit. Google isn't far behind here. Its Home smart speakers can already sync up with Chromecast streamers to launch content on Netflix or YouTube , and Google recently added new integrations of its own with Dish and Logitech. Watch this space -- the battle to win the couch potatoes over is just getting started. If you've read this far, then you should certainly consider it. In-home voice control is evolving quickly, with new features and capabilities arriving week in and week out. Of course, the same can be said of the equally cheap and comparably smart Google Home Mini.