Alexa – your Smart Home friend

You might have seen the commercials on TV where someone says “Alexa” to turn on/off lights and to switch between songs. Or if you have an Amazon device you must have heard the name “Alexa.” So before we get to know “Why Alexa ?” we need to know first , “Who is Alexa ?!”

Who is Alexa

Basically Alexa  which named after the ancient library of Alexandria , is Amazon’s smart assistant (like Siri from Apple’s iPhone) and a voice control system that is built into several devices including some smartphones and some devices like Echo Dot and Tap. (and they are all speakers with a very powerful microphone built-in microphone.)

It lets you make your wish list come true and see them fulfilled like dimming your lights or playing music tracks all by voice commands, all you need is to Say the wake-word “Alexa” to your Echo and then, with a simple voice command, you can play music, control smart home devices, shop on Amazon, search the internet, set reminders and control other smart devices!. That’s wonderful; in fact it isn’t one of the biggest and largest tech products available today.

Alexa’s System

As we know most of Tech device is composed of software and hardware parts , But for Alexa i will make the thing little easy , It is composed from my opinion into 3 Main Parts which are : Supported devices , operating systems and Programmed Skills. and We will talk about each one briefly

Supported Devices

Echo devices let you instantly play music, control your smart home, get information, news, weather, and more using just your voice, Examples : Echo Dot , Amazon Echo and the All new Echo Show.

These Far-field voice control devices lets  the smart assistant to hear you from across the room even when music is playing,also some smart home products brands such as  Nest, Philips Hue, Ecobee, etc  let you have control and access lights, thermostats, and more using just your voice.

Operating System

The Application Usually works on iOS 8.0 and Android 4.4 or later versions of them , but Also Amazon have their own Os which called “ Fire Os “ , so The app runs in three different smartphone Operating systems and don’t forget windows and Mac OS , so it supports most of the OSs in the world and that’s a big advantage for Amazonians to Expand and improve their Voice command system globally.

Skills

What’s the meaning of skill? In the Amazon world, a skill is like an application. It’s a small program you can add to your device to enable new commands, there is now about 10,000 skills available in the Alexa application. There are also more skills being launched on a weekly basis after Amazon released the Skill Kit to the public making it easy for anyone with basic development ideas to create skills and add them to the system.

Once you add a skill , it will work with all devices in your home, You don’t have add them to all the devices separately, in fact there are many useful skills and the first thing that any smart-home enthusiast will want to add is the IFTTT skill and it stands for “If This Then That.,

IFTTT is a website and app that lets you attach different devices and services in the cloud with what the app calls recipes.

So we talked about skills, Supported devices and Operating systems , let’s now talk about the thing that really matters me as a customer and not a geek , i just want to simply knows what can a Voice command system or Smart-assistant can do for me ?! And this will lead us to the most important part.

Alexa’s Features

Its success is mainly dependent on the sensitive in built microphones built in the DoT and Echo. So it is always listening, and is quick to respond, and that helps in many useful functions and features like:

  • Stream songs from Amazon Prime Music, Spotify, Pandora and anything really
  • Tune in to the radio channels like ESPN to and NPR
  • Read your audiobooks
  • Listen to Alexa read
  • Host a trivia night
  • Set a timer
  • Cook a meal , order a pizza or pour the perfect cocktail
  • Call an Uber or order a Lyft
  • Quarterback your connected home
  • Change the color of your lights
  • Control your garage
  • See who’s knocking
  • Lock the doors & Help secure your home
  • the climate and keep it breezy
  • control your insteon smart home gear
  • Manage your SmartThings setup
  • work with Wink
  • Integrate with Control4
  • Trigger your IFTTT recipes or “Yonomi”
  • make phone calls
  • check out showtimes and prepare for a date
  • quiz yourself

And much much much more !

So we talked about the awesome things about That beautiful and amazing Command system , let’s now talk about the price of all of this.

Are the devices affordable?

Amazon’s sells various hardware products on its site on a regular basis. At times the company also offers its shoppers a rare moment to save more money by buying refurbished devices. This is new and well received by its shoppers across the world.

Let’s talk about normal devices:

The Amazon Echo costs 180$ which is some sort of expensive but It also offers its cheapest model The Echo Dot and it costs only 50$, and there is Echo tap which priced in average 130$, and they are all available in two colours: white and black.

But now let’s go to refurbished devices, for example, the $180 Amazon Echo can be bought for $135 right now if you buy a refurbished model. These refurbished products are safe to buy as the company protected these devices with warranties. Its latest sale on refurbished Echo Dots is an ongoing sale that sells devices at prices as low as possible. In normal cases these are available with $5 discount and Amazon has also offered additional $7 discount on the prices of refurbished Echo Dot devices. This means shoppers can now buy it for a meagre $37.99.

Why Alexa?

Since we know the reason , why Alexa? Simply because why not! Why wouldn’t  you want to have a smart speaker in your home, helping you to do things for you in the most convenient and comfortable way. It is affordable, easy to use, and with awesome functionalities, all you have to do now is buy it and say “Alexa …”

Where to get it

As usual we’d recommend going straight to the source, however smart home companies are a good alternative if you’re looking to get complimentary smart home devices.