Advanced Amazon Echo and Amazon Dot User Guide
TABLE OF CONTENTS
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
INTRODUCTION. WHAT IS THE AMAZON ECHO?
An In-depth Description of the Amazon Echo
What are IFTTT recipes?
100 Compatible Devices for the Amazon Echo
BEST USES FOR SMART LIGHT SWITCHES
BEST THERMOSTATS TO USE WITH ALEXA
AMAZON ECHO BATTERY SOLUTIONS
COMMON TROUBLESHOOTING PROBLEMS
Copyright © 2017
All Rights Reserved
No part of this eBook can be transmitted or reproduced in any form including print, electronic, photocopying, scanning, mechanical or recording without prior written permission from the author.
While the author has taken the utmost effort to ensure the accuracy of the written content, all readers are advised to follow information mentioned herein at their own risk. The author cannot be held responsible for any personal or commercial damage caused by information. All readers are encouraged to seek professional advice when needed.
John Slavio is a programmer who is passionate about the reach of the internet and the interaction of the internet with daily devices. He has automated several home devices to make them ‘smart’ and connect them to high speed internet. His passions involve computer security, iOT, hardware programming and blogging. Below is a list of his books:
[+ John Slavio Special+]
Welcome to a guide on the Amazon Echo, which is a great device backed by a powerful Artificial Intelligence. Before we get into the Amazon Echo, let’s cover what Artificial Intelligence is on a programmable level so that you understand how your device acts and reacts a lot better. In a computer program, we have what is known as a Boolean, which stands for a choice between True or False. We also have something called an IF Statement, which is the way a computer decides if it will do something a specific way. This may seem small, but this leads to a very powerful way of adapting, as you will see.
Let’s say we have the word “see” that we want to use and it is in our sentence, “I want to see the ocean.” What an Artificial Intelligence will do, IF there is more than one word, is divide the sound that it hears based upon the spaces of time where it can only hear the background noise it heard when it first started up. Therefore, it will see [“I”, “want”, “to”, “see”, “the”, “ocean”] and then it needs to match the individual sound bytes to common sound bytes stored in its database. IF a certain sound byte is within a specific probability of matching, it will mark this as true so long as it makes grammatical sense in the context of the sentence it is constructing. There are six words, so it will do this check around six times and IF it is true that the sentence it constructs makes grammatical sense, it will either autofill it into the text box or it will bring up an application that lets you see the ocean. Now, IF it is false, then the correction you make via the voice command will be remembered for the next time you or someone else attempts to use that sentence. I’ve simplified this a lot in comparison to the actual programming involved, but if you look back at the bolded text you will see how much depends on something as simple as the IF statement and the Boolean. Needless to say, it takes a human to teach the computer how to speak and it takes even more humans to teach it how to speak in different accents and languages.
Therefore, let us talk about Alexa, which is the Artificial Intelligence behind Amazon’s new products. That means that Alexa can be found on the Echo, Echo Dot, Tap, and Fire TV. This is good because it opens up the opportunity to have a truly personalized personal assistant for multiple devices. Alexa is only three years old, so imagine a toddler being able to perform what you ask it, only that toddler is attached to a supercomputer. Alexa also had a very rough time because the Artificial Intelligence was somewhat limited in the beginning due to developers not coming onboard immediately to make their own apps for the device. It took some time before Alexa truly became useful, primarily around the time that appliances started putting their applications inside of Alexa. Now, Alexa can control the lights, the garage door, the washer and dryer, and even the locks on the house. This is all because individuals like you and me keep teaching her more words and contexts while companies keep providing tasks that are more complex.
Alexa can tell you how to change voltages into amperes if you ask it for the formula, but it will not do it for you. It cannot control smart devices that are not already on the Alexa “skills” network even if they are voice controlled. Therefore, if you plan to purchase Alexa for controlling a smart house then I highly suggest you download the “skills” from the Amazon Alexa application found in the iStore or the Google Play applications to see if your devices are compatible with Alexa. This will prevent you from making an unnecessary purchase if that is the reason why you want to purchase the Amazon Echo.
So, what does all of this mean for you? As long as the products you buy are Alexa compatible, everything will be a great experience and it will only get better. If you buy something that isn’t Alexa compatible, then you will not be able to control it through Alexa. Likewise, if you have your own music then Alexa will not play it unless it is part of a digital source, like Spotify or iHeartRadio, which is part of the Alexa network. Since you have the ability to connect via Bluetooth, you can play music over the speakers but you will be very limited in controlling this music with Alexa. This can be an annoyance to some and it can even be a deal breaker, but I want to make sure that you know everything I can let you know about this product so you can make an informed decision on what to do with the device.
The Amazon Echo is a symbiotic device, which means that it uses your phone to connect to your account and set itself up. In this section, we will briefly go over the features contained within the Amazon Echo. The first part is the volume, which has two methods of control to it. First, there is a manual ring that you can turn underneath the light that will control the volume manually. To do it with voice recognition, you need to say “Alexa, turn up/down the volume” or you can have more refined control by saying “Alexa, set the volume to” and then whatever number you want to set it to.
Don’t worry about this device being heavy to lift because it only weighs about two pounds, so if you can carry a handle full of groceries into the house then odds are that you can carry the Amazon Echo around. With that said, the Amazon Echo comes with a powerful speaker system. The entire speaker is represented by the wireframe on the lower half of the device and it contains 2.5-inch woofer and a 2-inch tweeter for high pitched sounds plus it has a reflex port to reduce the amount of distortion the device is capable of producing. This device is Bluetooth enabled so you will be able to play any music stored on your phone, but keep in mind that Alexa will only look for songs in the Amazon Music library first and if it doesn’t find the music in there then it will either play a sample from the Amazon Store or it might find your song. This means you will need to manually control any music streamed from your phone to the device.
Worried about how far it can pick up your voice in case you have a large house? You shouldn’t be because the device comes with seven microphones inside of the device. If you can’t get enough coverage for your whole house, then you can just pick up the Voice Remote for Amazon Echo so that you can bring the voice activation wherever you need to. If there’s only a specific place in your house when you would need the Voice Remote, then you don’t have to worry about that either because the base for the Voice Remote includes a magnet for metal surfaces and a reusable adhesive strip if there are no metal surfaces. To connect it, you just go into the settings on your application, tap on the echo device you are connected with, and then tap on the “Pair Device Remote” to start the process of connecting the remote.
First, download and install the Amazon Alexa application found in the iOS store, Amazon App Store or the Google Play store. Do not open the application until after you have turned on the device. Once you have installed this, you can plug your Amazon Echo into the wall to start the device. Now that you have the device plugged in, the ring on top should be going in a circular pattern. This is when you can turn on the Amazon Application. You will need to sign into the Amazon Account and then you will have instructions laid out for you. This is where you will need to connect to the device via wireless because not all smartphones have Bluetooth but almost all of them have WiFi.
You may see me use the words “skill” and “application” interchangeably throughout this book, but this is because Amazon has decided to call the Amazon Alexa applications “skills”. On a technical level, you can tell the difference between a skill and an application because the skill is something that Alexa uses and Alexa is the application. However, you could also say that you’re using some company’s application through Alexa, so semantics are a pain and nothing is new. You have two wake words you can use “Alexa” and “Computer”, but the computer was originally removed as one of the wake words in the beginning since it was a common name. “Computer” has been added back to give the full Star Trek experience that the development team originally envisioned for the Amazon Alexa. In order to make this switch from “Alexa” to another word like “Computer”, you need to go into the Settings section of your Alexa application and then tap on Change Your Wake Word.
In order to get skills, you have to go to the Skills section of your Amazon Alexa application on your phone and find the skill you want. You can usually preview the skill’s commands directly on the landing page of the skill. Once you obtain the skill for Alexa, you can then say “Alexa” and then whatever command you intended to use.
Let’s begin with the acronym, that really stands for “If This Then That” all in one go. However, what will all of that even mean? If you scan the introduction, then you may already comprehend the if statement and the way it’s employed in computer science. What a recipe is for an IFTTT is an instruction that tells an application to do something based on if some incident occurred. For example, you can set a recipe to change your device to a lower volume when the time passes 10 PM everyday.
Here is a list of the coolest 50 IFTT skills current available:
1. Applet ID 178144p
Of Course we want an applet that will tell the Android phone to turn up the ringer when we’ve lost it because the most inconvenient time to lose a phone is when we’ve set it to mute.
2. Applet ID 8981p
If you’re going to be on Facebook then odds are that you are also going to be on Twitter, so why not upload one photo so that they can be on both?
3. Applet ID 341784p
Why find my phone when I can just have Alexa find it for me?
4. Applet ID 133380p
As a writer, tracking my work hours is essential for my two hours of sleep and so getting it to sync with my Google Calendar is just a bonus.
5. Applet ID 79p
If you buy things on Craigslist then having an applet inform you when new posts match your current search will be useful.
6. Applet ID 108566p
As a technology writer, it’s useful to grab breaking technology news from the New York Times when it releases.
7. Applet ID 213973p
This is useful if you are part of an organization that retweets everything else that is being tweeted.
8. Applet ID 192151p
As a person who prefers not to socialize, getting an applet to get me out of an awkward situation is very convenient for me. This allows you to make a phone call to yourself in a discrete way so that you can escape an awkward date or other situation.
9. Applet ID 284243p
What’s a shopping list if you don’t have it on hand? Well, get Alexa to email it to you.
10. Applet ID 12567p
If you like VSauce and random knowledge like I do, then you’ll love an applet that sends you “10 Things to Know This Morning.”
11. Applet ID 189727p
Who doesn’t want free apps? If you do, then this applet will give you an email digest of the top apps that are free in the App Store.
12. Applet ID 290998p
You can’t do much if you don’t have the to-dos you lined up, so have Alexa sync them to your Google Calendar.
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