What Is Alexa And What Does Alexa Do?

What Is Alexa And What Does Alexa Do

We have all become quite familiar with Alexa now. Most people don’t know the real powers of Alexa and what all it can do. So, here is everything much more about Alexa than being just a voice control assistant of Amazon.

Contents

What Exactly Is Alexa?

Alexa is a voice control assistant of Amazon and works with the help of a cloud-based service. Alexa can communicate and hold meaningful conversations like a normal person with Alexa Voice Service (AVS), intelligent voice recognition, and natural understanding service created by Amazon’s Developer team.

It is through the advancements made in AVS and machine learning that one is able to make the most of Alexa. Alexa is just a wake word given to this service that it identifies and knows when to respond back. The only requirement for Alexa voice service to respond to any connected device is the microphone and speaker.

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Image source: Modayestilo

Why Alexa?

Why Amazon came up with naming their voice control assistant as Alexa only? There are various obvious and stark reasons behind naming it Alexa, as explained by David Limp, Amazon executive who is behind the development of Alexa Voice Service.

The word ‘Alexa’ is taken from the Library of Alexandria. This library attempted to collect all the world knowledge, which resembles what Alexa aims at too. Though Alexa is always developing and learning, it aims at being a know-it-all medium.

The more practical reason is ‘Alexa,’ when pronounced, includes a unique sound, ‘X,’ which eliminates the chances of getting it confused with other words. This has to be the main concern for a voice-activated service. It can be irritating when the device wakes up frequently, even when it’s not asked for.

Explaining the reason, Limp said, “If any of you have Echoed, you know that it only wakes up when it hears the word “Alexa,” and the phonics of that word and how that word is parsed and the fact that it has a hard consonant with the ‘X’ in it, is important in making sure that it wakes up only when it’s asked for. And so, a combination of those two things allowed us to kind of narrow in on Alexa.”

Where Can I Use Alexa?

The functionality of Alexa is getting enhanced by leaps and bounds, which allows users to use it with more and more devices.

First and foremost, devices to use Alexa in are the Amazon smart devices, particularly all the Echo products (are mentioned below in the article).

Next, Alexa can be used with Fire TV stick (Amazon’s voice remote), Fire TV set up box, Fire HD 8 tablet, and also with third-party smart devices like Sonos One speakers, smart home devices like plug socket, locks, Ecobee switch, LG instaview refrigerator, Wink, Logitech Harmony, Nest thermostat and some Alexa enabled headphones and much more.

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Further reading: How to Change Alexa’s Name, Voice, Accent, Gender, and Language on Amazon Echo – Everything You Need to Know

How Does Alexa Work?

Technically, Alexa works with the help of Alexa Voice Service, which is a cloud-based service.

However, to make Alexa work for you, first, you will need an Alexa enabled device. Secondly, the Alexa app must be downloaded on your mobile or tablet. Once these two requirements are fulfilled, you can add your Alexa enabled device in your Alexa app to allow Alexa to listen and respond to your answers.

Alexa will be activated when you call it out with its triggered words like Alexa, Computer, Echo, or Amazon.

How To Listen To Music On Amazon’s Alexa?

Listening to music is the prime feature of Amazon’s Alexa that it is known for, and does it very well. There is not one but several ways in which you can enjoy music with the help of Alexa.

On Any Music Streaming Service

By default, Alexa is set to play music from Amazon Prime Music or Amazon Music Unlimited. If you want to change it to any other streaming service, use the Alexa app.

In the Alexa app, visit Settings> Music & Media> Choose your default music streaming service, be it Spotify, Pandora, iTunes, or iHeartRadio.

Once you set your favorite music streaming service, it will be easy for Alexa to play your favorite songs from your playlist. You no longer have to specify the streaming service while listening to music. However, if you still want to hear from Amazon Music, you can simply ask, “Alexa, play (your song or playlist) on Amazon Music.”

Create Playlist

You can create a playlist with the help of Alexa. However, this only works with Amazon Prime Music only. It is easy to create a playlist with Alexa by saying

“Alexa, create a new playlist” or

“Alexa, create a romantic playlist” or

“Alexa, add this song to my playlist.”

Set A Music Alarm

You can also wake up to the tunes of your favorite music, and these not only work with Amazon Music but other music streaming services. All you need to say is

“Alexa, wake me up to (your favorite artist or song)” or

“Alexa set an alarm to religious tunes”

Enjoy Music Room Music

Alexa is known for providing crisp and clear music around your house, even through multiple speakers.

For this, firstly, you should have more than one Alexa enabled speaker. Secondly, the Alexa app should be downloaded on your mobile. Now, all you do is open Settings on your Alexa app and find multi-room music. Now, add the speakers to the group you want the music to be played on and name the group.

Then, just ask Alexa, play the playlist on (group name).

Play Music From Your Local Device

Don’t have access to any of the music streaming service? No worries, Alexa can play music from your mobile music library with the help of Bluetooth. Just pair your mobile with Alexa to listen to music from your device.

For this, either ask “Alexa, pair” or “Alexa, Bluetooth” or do it manually through the Alexa app provided you keep your mobile’s Bluetooth on.

Once connected, you can play songs from your music library or any streaming app on your mobile.

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What Does Alexa Do?

To make sure you make the most of Alexa and enjoy the fullest with Alexa with its craziest responses and skills, here is what all Alexa do:

The Best Alexa Skills

Alexa skills are just icing on the cake that can make your festivities, special events, and even a dull day amazing. There is no shortage of Alexa skills. Moreover, you can also make your own Alexa skill if you want to through Amazon Blueprints.

Enabling skills on Alexa is easy. You can manually do it through the Alexa app or just say Alexa, enable skills. On the Alexa app, go to Menu> Skills & Games> Discover > tap a skill> Enable to Use >Skill Permissions> Check the skill requests> Save Permissions, and your skill will be enabled.

It is also easy to search for any skill through the category section.

Here are some of the top skills to get your hands on:

Beer Goggles

Wanna check how drunk you are? This Alexa skill will throw questions at you after every shot to determine how long you can drink before you are totally wasted. It decides your drunkenness based on the responses you give to the questions asked.

This Day in History

Want to sharpen your history day by day? How about asking Alexa to tell something unique about each day that happened in history. With Alexa’s This Day in History skill, you can actually know it all.

Ingredient sub

This is one fantastic skill everyone into cooking needs the most. According to the ingredient sub-Alexa skill, you can actually ask Alexa for a replacement or substitute of any ingredient that you don’t presently have that is to be used in your recipe.

It will come up with immediate alternative options and save you last-minute trouble.

Daily Buzzword

Daily buzz word Alexa skill helps build your vocabulary. Every day it will introduce a new word to you along with its meaning from Merriam Webster dictionary.

Meditation timer

Are you having a hard time concentrating while meditating? Alexa can help you in meditating as well. With Alexa’s Meditation timer skill, you can meditate well with relaxing sounds playing in the background and set the timer for meditating as well.

Fortune Cookie

Another fun Alexa skill to try is this fortune cookie skill that reveals the wisdom of truth anytime you wish to hear from it

Cool Things To Do With Alexa

Shop with Alexa

Don’t like to shop alone? Alexa is always there to give you creative shopping recommendations whenever you want. Just ask “Alexa, order coffee mugs” or “Alexa, let’s shop,” and she would be at the forefront to give to best matches from the available options for the specific product from Amazon.com.

Know sports update

Wondering what happened with the F1 race last night when you wake up early morning? Just ask “Alexa, who won the F1 race last night”. You can also keep up with other sports update   by saying, “Alexa, what were the cricket scores of the last match” or “Alexa, when is the next India vs Aus cricket match scheduled?”

Sort all your sports news out with Alexa.

Discover new skills

Don’t know which new Alexa skill to use today? Leave it to Alexa to discover the most amazing Alexa skill out for you. Just ask “Alexa, discover skills” or “Alexa, let’s play a game” or how about “Alexa, teach me something new.”

Narrate a book

Alexa supports Audible and Kindle as well. If you love to read an audiobook, Alexa is all set to narrate a book of your choice while you just lay on your bed and listen.

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You may also like: The Best Wired Speaker For Echo Dot

Useful Things To Ask Alexa

There is almost nothing you can’t ask Alexa. However, instead of troubling Alexa with nonsensical questions, you can actually ask useful things too. If your mind hasn’t thought of it yet, here are some of the things to ask Alexa you shouldn’t miss on:

Ask Alexa to make a call

Haven’t used Alexa to make a call yet? Ask Alexa how you can do that by saying Alexa, how to make a call?” or Alexa, call Dad” or “Alexa, message mum.”

Find recipes

Don’t know what to cook for dinner tonight? Again, no worries, Alexa got you covered with a list of recipes ready. Just ask Alexa, find dinner recipes” or “Alexa, find the recipe of (recipe of your choice)”

Alexa sorts out dinner plans. It gives you step-by-step recipe instructions, so you don’t have trouble following the recipe.

Create to-do lists

Do you remember something that should be added to your go-to list, but you are preoccupied with some work? No worries, Alexa will note it down for you before you forget about it again. Just tell “Alexa, add (your item) to the grocery list” or “Alexa, set a reminder for the doctor appointment at 8:00 am”

The tasks will be done in a jiffy.

Pregnancy advice

Alexa is also good at giving pregnancy advice if you have any doubts about it. You can share your heart out with Alexa about your pregnancy worries, and she will advise you accordingly.

You can also get your facts straight about pregnancy as well.

Track Amazon packages

Alexa is also good with tracking your current Amazon orders with no hassle. Just ask Alexa, track my package, or Alexa, when is my next order arriving? And it also tells you the full details of your order, including when you ordered the stuff as well.

Set routines

Setting routines on Alexa is another useful thing to try out. By setting Alexa routines, Alexa becomes a lot smarter by following routines one after the other without being told to. For instance, when said Alexa, good night”, Alexa will perform routines like locks the front door, set you an alarm, turn off the light, and everything else in an instant.

Order online

Alexa is not only good at shopping on Amazon, but it can also order almost anything online, be it food or dress. You can take the help of Alexa to order your food online from various apps and even pay bills.

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Funny Alexa Tricks

Having fun together with Alexa is the most unadulterated fun you could have. Sometimes the out of the world and stark responses from Alexa will crack you up really quick and will leave you laughing for a long time.

Want to experience the funnier side of Alexa? Here are some of the funny Alexa tricks to try:

Ask Alexa to sing a song

Ask her to sing a song, and she will be shy at first, saying ‘Who me?” and then try something by playing some weird tones and cover it up smartly.

Try the same with “Alexa, rap for me” and wait for its response.

Welcomes you home

Living alone and feel lonely? No longer when Alexa is there. Just tell “Alexa, I m home” when you get back home after a day’s work, and she will welcome you back with ‘Welcome home! I hope you had a good day”.

You can also wish her good morning or good night, and she will respond back more sweetly and with creativity.

Play a game with Alexa

Alexa is all capable of playing games with you, like rock paper scissors. Say Alexa, play rock, paper scissors, lizard, Spock” and Alexa will be ready with its choice between them.

Ask Alexa, how much do you weigh

And Alexa will give innovative responses like I am more sass than mass.

Tell a yo mama joke

Alexa is even good at saying a yo mama joke and gets with a new one every time. You can also ask Alexa to simply tell a joke, and Alexa won’t disappoint you again

Some other fun things to ask include asking Alexa, who is your valentine? Or Alexa, what is the value of pi? Or Alexa, fine-tune my music, and much more.

Alexa Tips For Music Lovers

Music and Alexa have a deep connection that goes well for music lovers. By now, you already know how you can play music on Alexa. But that’s not all! Here are some Alexa tips for music lovers.

Try Alexa music skills

Alexa is full of skills, and some skills can play special music too. To find skills related to music, just browser to the music and audio category under games & Skills in the Alexa app, and you will find skills that play ambient music, folk music, spa music, radio stations, and much more.

Music trivia

If you are a hardcore fan of music, you will love to answer music questions thrown at you by Alexa. To further enrich your music knowledge, you can enjoy the music trivia skill of Alexa and have a good time answering and knowing things about music.

Just search for music trivia in your Alexa app under Skills.

Music news

Just like every other news, you can get music news from Alexa under your Flash Briefing. For this, all you need to do is add the Today in Music Alexa skill to your Flash Briefing, and you can music news along with all your flash briefing.

All you have to say is Alexa, what’s in the news?” or Alexa, what my Flash Briefing?” and never miss current music news in the industry.

Play a song that goes like

Want to know the song you have been humming all day long? Alexa has got your back again. Just say Alexa, play a song that goes something like this…” and Alexa will be able to find the song and play it out there for you.

You can also say, Alexa, play that song by that guy, and Alexa will identify the song for you.

All Of Amazon’s Smart Speakers And Others

Amazon smart speakers are the best companions for Alexa. If you are looking for an Alexa enabled device by Amazon itself, here is a full list of Amazon’s smart speakers and others you can get your eyes on:

01 Amazon Echo Dot

Amazon Echo Dot

Amazon Echo Dot is an Amazon smart speaker that comes in varied generations. You can find Amazon Echo Dot 1st generation to Amazon Echo Dot 4th gen (the latest one shaped like a dot).

Amazon Echo Dot also includes a kid’s version and a clock version as well. It’s Alexa enabled and consists of a blue ring on the top or bottom of the device, depending on the generation you choose.

02 Amazon Echo Show

Amazon Echo Show

Amazon Echo Show also has varied versions. The latest one being Amazon Echo Show 10 with a 10.1-inch touch screen and 5MP camera. The Echo Show series is shaped like a small television with the support that provides hands-free video calling and watching movies.

Definitely compatible with Alexa, it is a smart device that can also be used as a baby monitor, set multi-room music, compatible with other home smart devices as well.

03 Amazon Echo Studio

Amazon Echo Studio

If you are looking for the best, loudest, and biggest Amazon’s smart speaker, Amazon Echo Studio it is. It’s the loudest of all and can very well be teamed up with other Amazon Echo speakers to enjoy multi-room music.

It has a blue ring on top that activates when Alexa hears you. It has tweezers, speakers, and woofers in all directions providing top-quality audio throw.

04 Amazon Echo Flex

Amazon Echo Flex

Amazon Echo Flex is a plugin Alexa powdered speaker that plugs directly into the wall outlet. It also has a socket that can be used for charging mobile or use it for plugging in any of your accessories like a night light or such.

It’s the cheapest Alexa device to have that can be used to voice control all your smart home products and do everything you can with an Alexa.

05 Amazon Echo Look

Amazon Echo look

Amazon Echo look has been discontinued. It was actually a standalone camera device that worked on machine learning and artificial intelligence to provide fashion advice to its owners. You can also take a video or a picture through it and see it through its app on your mobile. You could also see a full 360-degree view of your outfit with its help.

Sadly, Amazon Echo Look is no longer available for selling.

06 Amazon Echo Plus

Amazon Echo Plus

Amazon Echo Plus is another elongated, spherical shaped smart speaker with better sound quality than the Echo. It has a woofer and tweezer, providing it clear and crisp sound.

It also has a built-in temperature sensor and a smart home hub. It does everything an Alexa enabled device can, from playing music, making calls, controlling smart home devices, and everything else through voice control.

07 Amazon Echo Spot

Amazon Echo Spot

Amazon Echo Spot is a smart clock, smart portable Bluetooth speaker with a screen. It worked as an Amazon Echo Show, Echo Dot, and any smart speaker with its small screen and camera at the top.

However, this, too, has been discontinued by Amazon.

08 Amazon Echo Sub

Amazon Echo Sub

Amazon Echo Sub has been designed primarily to be used as a subwoofer to complement other Echo smart speakers. It is compatible with other Amazon smart speakers so that it can be used as a multi-room speaker.

With a 6-inch woofer, it has a powerful and deep bass best for pairing it with other Echo devices and enjoying the Alexa functionality.

09 Amazon Echo Link

Amazon Echo Link

Amazon Echo Link is another device that alleviates music streaming across the house easily. Echo Link acts as a link between the music streaming apps and your stereo system to play music. It can be linked with other Echo devices to throw audio throughout the space.

To be able to talk to Alexa while playing music, you need Echo Link to connect to any other Echo compatible devices.

10 Amazon Echo Auto

Want Alexa presence in your car? Amazon Echo Auto adds hands-free Alexa to your car with its sleek body that can be placed near your car’s dashboard as it is powered by the cars’ USB port or 12V charging socket.

It is specifically designed for your car journeys so that you can have fun with Alexa throughout with continuous music streaming as well.

11 Amazon Echo Buds

Amazon Echo Buds

Amazon Echo Buds are wireless earbuds that also provide hands-free with Alexa with the help of the Alexa app.

They are also compatible with other assistants like Siri and Google Assistant. They come with a long-lasting battery, are sweat-resistant, and comes in 3 ear tip sizes to adjust to your ear perfectly.

Alexa goes anywhere with you where these earbuds go. Listen to your favorite music on the go, know the latest news while walking, and many more.

12 Amazon Echo Loop

We almost had everything, but could you miss out on an Echo Loop, a must-have Alexa ring accessory to wish for.

Amazon Echo Loop

Amazon Echo Loop is actually a ring that comes in four sizes small, large, medium, and extra-large. This is the closest Alexa can be to you and is just a click away from waking up.

It goes everywhere with you, is water-resistant, battery powdered, and answers all your worries away. Just double-clicking on it will enable you to call people on your speed dial.

13 Amazon Echo Frames

Amazon Echo frames

If you are more into eye frames than the ring, there are Amazon Echo frames as well that will fit your likings. It also comes with hands-free Alexa, so you can talk to her all day long when they are on.

They also come with a VIP filter to filter out which notifications to receive. They are designed in the manner that what Alexa says will only be audible to you and no one nearby.

What Apps And Services Work With Alexa?

Along with the above Amazon products, there are other apps and services that are Alexa enabled too.

Any.do

Any.do is an app that helps Alexa to make a to-do list. That means when you ask Alexa, add grocery shopping to my to-do list, Alexa adds the item to the list with the help of this app, which you can check on later.

Anypod

Anypod is another amazing app for listening to an innumerable number of podcasts.

With this, you can also subscribe to podcasts, skip episodes, rewind them, play them with the help of Alexa and this app.

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Fitness tracker apps

For the best Alexa enabled fitness tracker apps, try out Fitbit and Motiv apps that help you track your workout stats, total steps, and much more through voice control.

Smart home apps

Have the smart home products at home but don’t know how to sync them with Alexa? That’s when smart home apps are needed. No, they are not downloaded from Google Play Store but from Amazon itself. These are basically smart home skills like Philips Hue, Honeywell, Sony, TP-Link, and others that help you control your smart appliance with Alexa.

Apart from this, there are basically various skills in the form of an app that can be found on Amazon or through the Alexa app. These can be enabled to make the most of Alexa like Big Sky for getting weather updates, Find My Phone skill for asking Alexa to ring your phone, ambient sounds app, and much more.

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What Devices Does Alexa Work On?

Apart from the Amazon signature, Alexa enabled products, Alexa pretty much works with various devices now. Here are some of the most useful devices Alexa work on:

Philips Hue lights

Want to install smart products in your house that is Alexa enabled so you can just operate them with voice control. Philips Hue lights are one of them. These smart lights are not only compatible with Alexa but with other voice control assistants as well.

Wemo wi-fi smart plug

Want your wi-fi to be turned on and off without lifting you off from your comfort? This Alexa compatible wi-fi smart plug will make you turn off and on your wi-fi from anywhere in your house through voice control.

Alternatively, it also includes a physical switch if you don’t want to use Alexa to switch it on and off.

August smart lock pro

Another Alexa device everyone needs at home is a smart lock for superior home security. This smart deadbolt lock doubles our home security through its voice control feature. Just ask Alexa to close the doors when you are too lazy to do it yourself or to make sure if the door is locked or not.

Ecobee 5th generation thermostat

Want to control the temperature of your thermostat through voice? Ecobee 5th generation thermostat is the best Alexa thermostat that follows your voice orders.

It also has a built-in speaker, which makes much more than just a thermostat. You can play moderate-quality music on it and enjoy Alexa features like calls, messaging, and Drop-in.

Arlo Q

Arlo home security cameras are the best as they are Alexa compatible and come in various shapes and sizes.

With Arlo home security cameras, you can even stream live feed over any of your screen devices by asking Alexa do to so. Arlo not only has indoor but outdoor security cameras as well.

LG C9 OLED TV

Finding a TV that is Alexa enabled? A TV that can be fully voice-controlled without needing to use a remote. This is it. As it is Alexa enabled, you can not only turn it on and off with voice control but also change channels, switch to YouTube, increase volume, and much more with mere voice commands.

Sonos speaker

Finding a high-quality Alexa enabled speaker other than Amazon’s smart speakers? Sonos speakers are best in themselves, and enjoying Alexa’s voice commands makes them all the better.

Their enriching bass and audio quality makes them perfect for enjoying multi-room music.

There are Sonos Beam, Sonos Arc, Sonos One, and various other options you can choose from.

SimpliSafe

Another home security device brand is SimpliSafe, which is the best in providing home security kit that is Alexa compatible.

The full home security kit comes with the base station, keypad, sensors, motion detectors, and much more.

Who Are Alexa’s Competitors?

Alexa’s competitors are tough and well known as Alexa themselves. Its top two competitors in its field are Siri and Google Assistant.

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Alexa vs. Siri

Siri is Apple’s voice assistant that works with a wide range of products and devices as well. As Alexa, Siri is also capable of performing any tasks assigned to it, be it making a to-do list, playing music, asking for news, etc. Moreover, Siri is known for answering questions more correctly than Alexa, according to an IQ test survey.

Apple Siri also performs best on commands. However, when it comes to supporting music streaming apps, Alexa is far above Siri and even Google Assistant.

Alexa vs. Google Assistant

Google Assistant is regarded even better than Siri when it comes to fetching navigation details, local places, and commerce. However, Alexa is good with its information and knowledge.

As Alexa is app-based, where Siri and Google assistant is unbuilt into the operating system of the phone, they perform better. Still, Alexa is a more sought personal assistant with its in-depth knowledge of things and people.

In short, Google Assistant gives a tough competition to Alexa than Siri.

Alexa FAQs

Is Alexa a smart speaker?

Alexa is not a smart speaker. Alexa is a voice control assistant that makes speakers turn into smart speakers.

When a speaker is Alexa compatible, it enables the user to operate the speaker through voice control.

Is Alexa worth it?

Alexa is worth it if you have an Alexa enabled device at home. Alexa not only makes life easier but fun to live in.

Alexa’s creative responses sometimes are the best therapy you need on a bad day. Talking to Alexa is a human thing. Moreover, it doesn’t say no to any voice command: playing your favorite music, asking about the latest news, asking for a new fact, playing games, setting reminders, etc.

Who is better, Alexa or Siri?

Alexa is hands-down better than Siri. Alexa beats Siri in terms of entertainment, supporting music streaming apps, smart home accessibility, voice recognition abilities, and extensibility features.

Can Alexa connect to the hotspot?

Yes, Alexa can connect to the hotspot with the help of the Alexa app.

For this, go to Alexa app> Devices> Echo & Alexa> Wi-fi network> Change > Use this device as wi-fi hotspot> Start > Connect

That’s it!

Can Alexa read your emails?

Yes, you can ask Alexa to read your emails. But for that, first, you need to link your email to Alexa with the help of the Alexa app.

For this, go to Alexa app> More> Settings> Calendar & Email> Select your email account> Connect account.

Once it’s connected, you can ask Alexa to read, delete, send, resend as well.

Does Alexa integrate with my smart home?

Alexa is fully capable of integrating with your smart home devices, be it smart locks, smart plugs, smart lights, smart cameras, thermostat, or other smart home product that is Alexa compatible.

Does Alexa turn on lights?

Alexa can turn on your lights if you have a smart light in your home that is Alexa compatible.

For Alexa to turn on lights, you could use smart lights like Philips Hue, Syska smart LED bulb, Wemo smart dimmer, and much more.

Do you need wi-fi for Alexa?

Yes, Alexa needs to be connected to wi-fi always to listen to your voice and respond.

Conclusion

Alexa is always learning and continually striving to imbibe itself. For this reason, you won’t find Alexa answering plainly and simply even when you repeat the same questions. Alexa also has a whisper mode, routines, Alexa Guard, and so much more added to it every day to makes the lives of its users easy.

Alexa can be very addicting once you get your hands on it.

Levi Alston
I write dozens of helpful informational articles based on topics that I have identified again and again throughout my research and work experience. I am here to help you find the right smart speaker.