Making the most of Amazon's Alexa

Alexa tells jokes, provides Central Florida news, weather briefings


Amazon’s Alexa seems to be a hit, as the company’s Echo products continue to sell. Although Alexa can pretty much play any song your heart desires when she’s asked, she does so much more. Try asking Alexa the following questions or giving any of the following commands if you need a helping hand, or maybe even just a good laugh.


Alexa, what color is the dress?

She’s going to settle this ongoing debate once and for all.


Alexa, why did the chicken cross the road?

We’ve been asking since birth, but refuse to settle and think it was just “to get to the other side.”


Alexa, do you know Siri? Alexa, do you know Cortana?

Ask the device about her friendly competition with other devices.


Alexa, sneeze.

Your device has likely been a blessing to you. Why not return the blessing while you can?


Alexa, sing a song. Alexa, sing me a country song. Alexa, can you rap? Alexa, beatbox for me.

Warning: You will be in awe of your device’s skill after she responds to any of those four commands.


Alexa, what do you call a three-humped camel?

She’s got jokes.


Alexa, flip a coin for me.

This one’s for all the indecisive device owners out there.


Alexa, tell me a random fact.

We can only hope to be as smart as Alexa, and she helps make that possible. It’s like using a word-of-the-day app, but better.


Alexa, I'm home.

She may not be able to greet you at the door or help you carry your belongings in from the car after a long day, but she’s still excited you’re back.


Alexa, Tell me a bedtime story.

Can’t sleep? Alexa doesn’t need sleep, so she’s always available to tell a good story.


Alexa, roll the dice.

It’s family game night and she knows how hard it is to keep up with dice when you’ve got a lot of players involved. If you lose them, she’s there as a quality back up option to make sure nothing stands in the way of game night.


Alexa, how many calories are in…?

Alexa is quite the foodie, so she has to keep an eye on her calorie intake. She can tell you approximately how many calories are in many popular food menu items. 


Alexa, high five!

Considering that the device doesn’t have hands makes this one a little difficult, but Alexa doesn’t let something as small as that stop her.


Alexa, clap.

Do you tell bad jokes? We’re not sure when Alexa will be able to fake laugh, but she can still do this to this to save your self-esteem in the meantime.


Alexa, tell me a joke.

After giving the above command, give this one and take notes. Alexa’s half smart device, half comedian.


Alexa, initiate auto-destruct sequence.

Warning: Issue command at your own risk.


Alexa, see you later alligator.

She won’t disappoint.


Maybe you just want to get to know your Echo a bit more. She does spend all her time at home with you, so you might as well. Asking Alexa the following questions will pretty much almost amount to reading her autobiography.


Alexa, why is your name Alexa?

You’ve probably wondered why she doesn’t have a more “robotic” name similar to competing devices, and she’s happy to explain it.


Alexa, are you in a relationship?

You’re pretty much her parent, right? You may feel the need to know these things and she’s got nothing to hide.


Alexa, how old are you?

She’s pretty smart for her age.


Alexa, what's your middle name? Alexa, what’s your last name?

The first answer will pretty much kill two birds with one stone.


Alexa, where do you live?

Hmm, must be nice.


Alexa, where were you born?

Unlike most of us, the answer is not “at a hospital.”


Alexa, did you go to college?

You’d think so since she seems to know just about everything.


Alexa, what's your favorite sport?

Hint: She’ll need a broom for this one.


Alexa, what's your favorite movie?

Her answer brings doubt, yet reassurance at the same time.


Alexa, what do you want to be when you grow up? 

“Star Trek” fans will appreciate this.


Alexa, what new features do you have?

You want to do more with your Echo, but you don’t know where to start. Just ask her, she’s happy to give some options.


Alexa’s jokes and useful facts make her great company to keep, but she’s capable of much more than entertaining. Her long list of skills can be customized to your liking to make her the assistant you need in any situation. To have Alexa reach her full potential, open the Alexa app on your smart phone and enable some skills similar to the following examples, or ask Alexa about some of her skills.


For example, you could ask, “Alexa, what are your food and drink skills?” After she names some, you could choose to enable one called “Restaurants near.” Once you’ve enabled the skill, you can say, “Alexa, ask Restaurants near for Orlando,” and she will provide some options. 


You can also ask Alexa about her music skills to activate one that plays relaxing sounds while you sleep, or ask about her games skills to choose from games like “Jeopardy” or “20 Questions.” Be careful though, she’s pretty good.


For college students who are away from home for the first time and face a series of difficult decisions, the “Mom Says” skill could offer some peace of mind. With that skill, Alexa will do her best to offer a nugget of advice similar to what she thinks a mother would do.

If you have devices compatible with the Echo, Alexa can pretty much transform your home into a smart one. Alexa has skills that work with certain thermostats when enabled, so Echo-owners can simply ask her to increase or decrease the temperature by a few degrees, tell her they’re leaving for vacation so she can adjust the air-conditioning to operate accordingly or even ask her to turn a fan on or off. There are also skills that operate similarly with lighting systems, home garages and security systems and locks around the home.


[WATCH: How to use Amazon's Alexa to get News 6 updates]


Alexa is no stranger to News 6 either. We work to bring you the latest in Central Florida news and weather throughout each day, and Alexa now plays an important and convenient role in doing so. For morning, afternoon and evening briefings, go to the “skills” section in your Alexa app and search “News 6” and “Pinpoint Weather.” Once you find them, enable both skills and wait a short while. Once they’ve been enabled, you can ask, “Alexa, what’s my flash briefing?” and in just moments, you’ll be up to speed on what’s making headlines and what’s in the forecast for Central Florida.

About the Author: