All posts by aerofan

Echo’s Like A Jukebox With An Infinite Number Of Songs

Couple sleeping next to EchoDon’t get me wrong. Amazon’s Echo will do a lot of things besides playing music.

I really like my daily flash briefing and it’s great that I can get the weather anytime I want just by asking. I could also use it to build a shopping list or to do list but I prefer to have those on my computer.But if you love or even like music you need to get the Amazon Echo.

It really is like a jukebox with an (almost) infinite number of songs.

Want to hear Crosby, Still and Nash’s Southern Cross, just ask. In the mood for some Maroon 5 or Arianne Grande?, No problem. How about that song that’s been kicking around in your head all day. Just ask Alexa and the odds are overwhelming that she’ll play it.

Use Pandora? Alexa will play any of your Pandora’s radio stations.

I don’t think I’ve ever been able to stump Alexa. I’m a bit of an oldies fan so it’s great that I can listen to Bob Seger, Earth, Wind and Fire, Jimmy  Buffett or going way back even Frank Sinatra just by asking.

Love classical music? Alexa’s got you covered. Just ask for your favorite classical music  then sit back, relax and listen to Beethoven’s 5th, Pictures at an Exhibition, Motzart or a little Bolero.

How about jazz? I’ve not been able to find a jazz artist that Alexa can’t play. And if his or her work isn’t it Amazon Prime, all I need to do is create a Pandora radio station and then have Alexa play it.

Okay, I grant that Amazon Echo’s $199 price is a bit on the steep side. But if you play a lot of songs it’s going to work out to just pennies each and then ultimately they’ll basically be free. Oh, and did I mention the fact that  Echo does a bunch of other things? Amazon’s plan is for Echo to be the hub of the smart home. And we can certainly imagine that this is what will happen.

A cheaper alternative

If $199 is too steep for your budget Echo does have a cheaper competitor. It’s name is ivee Voice and its retail price is $99.

This product is a  supposed to let you control various aspects of your home. Besides telling you the weather, the company says it’ll let you request an Uber, play music via Spotify, alert fast-response services, and even potentially have groceries delivered. However – spoiler alert  –  it’s not exactly available yet because it’s part of an Indiegogo campaign With orders promised to ship in June of next year. Here’s a link to a very comprehensive article on tit if you’d like to learn more. Or you could plunk down an extra $100, order Amazon Echo today and avoid having to wait almost eight months for your device.

Do this and just think. In a couple of days you’ll have access to practically every song ever recorded in that jukebox of almost infinite songs called Amazon Echo.

 

 

Amazon Echo Now Offers More Music and A New Skill

Echo by booksIf you already own an Amazon Echo, go to it, say Alexa and then ask it to tell you a joke about Donald Trump. Or depending on your politcal persuasion you might ask Alexa to tell you a joke about Hillary Clinton.

Amazon has aerry, Maroon 5, Ariana Grande, The Weekend, Lady Gaga, Drake and more.

In fact, you can now listen to hundreds of new artists on Prime Music including Ariana Grande, The Weeknd, Drake, Lady Gaga, and more. With Prime, you have access to the entire Prime Music catalog and can stream unlimited songs, albums, playlists, and stations—ad free. Just say Alexa, play Katy Perry, play the Maroon 5bPrime Station or even  play the Bes of Prime Music playlist.

And wait, there’s more.

Alexa has also learned some new skills. You can now control your home garage with Amazon Echo and Garageio—a new third-party Alexa skill. Garageio is a simple and convenient way to control and monitor your garage door—without needing to replace your existing opener.  To learn more about Alexa and Garageio, click this link.

The Amazon Echo Has A Lot Of Friends

Phillips bulbs and controllerI ran into an article today listing many of the devices that are echo-Compatible meaning that you can control them with your voice. I counted at least 13 different manufacturers that have echo-compatible products and I could have missed a few. Some of the more prominent ones are Phillips Hue (connector for light bulbs), a WeMo Switch, the SmartThings Hub, and a Lutron Wireless 300-watt/100-watt Plug-In Lamp Dimmer with a Remote Control Kit. Other manufacturers offering Echo-compatible devices include Insteon, GE, Bellcon and Cree Connected.

If you’d like to see the article with the complete roundup of things that Echo can control, click this link .

OMG! Alexa’s Cheating on The Amazon Echo

man-people-office-writing-mediumI was startled to read the other day and Alexa and all her voice command stuff will soon be available for you to play music or bingo, get an up-to-weather report or customized news flash on …Amazon Fire TV.

Has Alexa no shame?

I mean stepping out on the Amazon Echo after just a few months? What’s the world coming to?

If you’d rather not spend $199 to buy the Amazon Echo you might want to look into the Amazon Fire TV. I haven’t yet seen what it’s price will be and you will need a remote but here’s a link to the article where you can get all the deets or at least the details now available.

What’s Inside The Amazon Echo Will Blow You Away

Cutaway of Echo and power cordI you’ve seen the Amazon Echo or photos of it, well, it doesn’t look too amazing. It’s just a 8 12″ tall black cylinder with some openingd` on the side that look a bit like mesh  and a kind of gray band around the top.

But inside that small cylinder is technology that will blow you away.

Here’s a link to an article where the author did a complete tear-down of the advice and what he found will amaze you. https://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/Amazon+Echo+Teardown/33953

 

Are You Ready For Some Football Scores – From Alexa?

Amazon Echo UnboxedHere’s another capability recently added to the Amazon Echo. You can now get  scores and schedules for both NCAA Division1-A Football and the NFL.

All you need to do is ask Alexa things like “what’s the score of the Michigan Wolverines football game”? Or “Alexa, when is the next University of Texas football game?”

You can also use the Amazon Echo for your barbecues or kickoff party. Just ask, “Alexa, play the Big Game Pump-up Jams Prime playlist.”

Alternately, you could say, “Alexa, play College Football Radio from Tunein.”

Here’s more of an article I found recently from Amazon about Alexa’s Crystal Ball.

“Do you want to know if your favorite team is going to win or need help deciding which quarterback to start on your Fantasy Football team? Get help from Crystal Ball, one of the early third-party Alexa skills. To get started, open the Alexa App and tap on ‘Skills’in the menu and then press ‘Enable’ for Crystal Ball.

“Not into football? Try some of the latest Alexa skills including Craft Helper for Minecraft, Guess the Number, and Trivia Alex—simply enable them in the Alexa App.”

Alexa … Water The Lawn For Me

Echo in kitchen next to running faucetI’ve seen some interesting capabilities added to the Amazon Echo but this one beats everything.

A lawn care company in Denver, Colorado has scored $3.4 million from Amazon to improve and market a gadget that makes watering the lawn easier and more efficient.  Here’s the details …

“Rachio, a 3-year-old company that sells a smartphone-integrated system for controlling residential lawn sprinklers, received an undisclosed amount of funding from Amazon to integrate its product into Amazon’s voice command technology Amazon Echo, also called Alexa.

“Amazon announced that Rachio would receive the funding in an Aug. 27 press release.
“The funding gives us better access to create skills for Alexa,” Rachio spokesman Ben Blackmer said. “So for example, you could say, ‘Alexa, water the garden for 10 minutes,’ and through our integration, we could make that happen.”
 I for one can’t wait for that to be available next summer.
For the full story, on BusinessDen.com, click here.

 

Amazon Echo Now Does Shared Calendars And More!

top view amazson echoAmazon has just announced that in the latest update for the Amazon Echo, support for shared Google calendars will be enabled. Reading off Google calendars was already possible with Echo prior to today but with included support for shared calendars you can stay on top of every event entered. This means if someone has shared a calendar with you because of a specific event or you subscribe to certain Google Calendars, Echo can recap and keep you apprised of all the “goings-on” so you don’t miss any details, and that’s something to be happy about if you pride yourself on being punctual and organized (keep reading …)

You Could Make The Amazon Echo Do Just About Amything

Echo and smart bulbsThere is a thing called the Amazon Skills Kit  (ASK) that lets developers (and that includes you) do just about anything you could think of with the Amazon Echo — within reason, of course.

Amazon has said that ASK is. “a collection of self-service APIs and tools that make it fast and easy for developers to create new voice-driven capabilities for Alexa. With a few lines of code, developers can easily integrate existing web services with Alexa or, in just a few hours, they can build entirely new experiences designed around voice. No experience with speech recognition or natural language understanding is required—Amazon does all the work to hear, understand, and process the customer’s spoken request so a developer doesn’t have to. The Alexa Skills Kit is free.

The article went on to give examples of what developers could create with the Alexa Skills Kit including:

“A hobbyist developer can enable Alexa to access his or her child’s school lunch menu—then, each morning simply ask, “Alexa, ask Ballard Elementary School what’s for lunch today” and decide whether to pack a lunch for the child.

“A device maker with an Internet-connected sprinkler system can integrate its sprinklers with Alexa, so a customer can say, “Alexa, ask my sprinkler to water my lawn for 15 minutes.” (Continue reading)

 

Alexa, Can You Read Me A Book? Sure!

Eco by booksI found news today from ZD Net that “an update has just rolled out to the Amazon Echo that enables working with Audible books.Amazon keeps adding features to the Echo, and the latest will make fans of Audible books happy. The notification sent to Amazon Echo owners states that using the new feature is as easy as saying “Alexa, read [book title].” (Continue reading …)