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Here's why putting Alexa in more rooms across your home is a great idea right now:


The more seamlessly you can talk to Alexa, the more you can get out of her.

4 images of me interacting with Alexa

#1. Echo Dots are 50%+ off right now for Easter

You can get 3 Echo Dots for $70 right now -- that's $23 each! They usually cost $50 each, so this is a great deal. 

Echo Dots are small and can easily fit on your dresser, TV console, bathroom shelf or most anywhere. And if you only need a couple, you could always give the third as a gift.


#2. Easily listen to music everywhere

Listen to your favorite music play throughout your home -- as you walk from the kitchen through the living room and into your bedroom. Even when you're in the shower!

Multi-room audio is super easy to set up:

  1. Open your Alexa app
  2. Tap the Devices tab on the right side of the bottom navigation bar
  3. Tap the + icon in the upper right corner
  4. Tap "Add Multi-Room Music Speakers"
  5. Tap the Continue button
  6. Pick a name for the multi-room speaker group (I call mine "Everywhere")
  7. Check off the Alexa smart speakers you want to include in the group (For my Everywhere group, I checked off all my Echo devices)
  8. Tap Save (it might take a minute or two to connect your Echos)
  9. To play music everywhere just say "Alexa, play Bruce Springsteen everywhere!"

Pro Tip #1: If you want to add a new Echo device to a group, go to the Devices tab (step 2 above) > scroll down to the Speaker Groups section > tap the group you want to edit > check off the new device and tap the Save button

Pro Tip #2: While you can also set up multi-room audio with systems like Sonos, Alexa devices are much more cost effective (especially when you can buy 3 Echo Dots for $70!).


#3. Use Alexa announcements, and you'll never yell to someone in another room again

No one wants to go from room to room telling the family that dinner is ready. "Alexa, announce that dinner is ready" will broadcast the message over all the Echo devices across your home.

Pro Tip #1: You can even broadcast announcements across your home's Alexa devices via the Alexa app on your phone. Tonight when you're on the way home, try announcing "I'll be home soon!" from the Alexa app. Go to the Communicate tab on the bottom navigation bar > tap Announce > tap the microphone icon and say your message > tap the arrow button to broadcast it.

Pro Tip #2: Next time you're trying to reach someone at home and they're not picking up their mobile phone, use the Alexa app to announce on your Echo speakers that you're trying to reach them. You'll get a call back right away!

Pro Tip #3: Busy household with busy parents trying to keep multiple kids on schedule? You can even use announcements as part of a routine to keep your kids on schedule for their various activities.


#4. Control your smart home

Controlling smart lights with your voice is magical. And you'll definitely want an Alexa device in all the rooms where you have them -- because it doesn't make sense to walk into the kitchen to ask Alexa to turn on your bedroom lights.

And smart lights are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to smart home living. You can have Alexa-controlled shades, doorbell, vacuum cleaner and so much more -- you can even use an Alexa smart plug to make your morning coffee!

Pro Tip: Consider adding an Echo Show (22% off for Easter / $190) or an Echo Plus (9% off / $150) which both have a built-in smart home hub so you can easily set up smart home devices. The Show and the Plus eliminate the need for a separate hub for each each type of smart device (for example, to set up Hue smart lights with a regular Echo or Dot, you need a Philips Hue Hub which adds cost and confusion).


#5. Set reminders on the fly without pulling out your phone

Have you ever been tying up your shoelaces running out of the house and remembered you totally forgot to text your friend happy birthday? Just say "Alexa, remind me to text Jack happy birthday at 10am," and she'll send your phone a push notification and notify you via your Echo speaker.

But this only works if you're near an Echo speaker. Put an Echo speaker in all your rooms, and you'll always be in range of one for your requests.

 

#6. Reorder on Amazon as soon as you remember you need something

You're getting dressed and ready for the day and just finished your last Kleenex from the tissue box on your bedside table. Instead of stopping what you're doing, pulling out your phone, opening the Amazon app, loading your order history, searching for Kleenex, etc., just say "Alexa, buy more Kleenex on Amazon."

If you have Alexa everywhere, you can just order stuff on the fly as you go about your day and avoid the mental load of having to remember to do it later. It's easy to set up Alexa voice purchasing:

  1. Open the Alexa app
  2. Tap the hamburger (3 horizontal lines) icon on the upper left corner
  3. Tap Settings
  4. Tap Alexa Account
  5. Tap Voice Purchasing
  6. Toggle Purchase by Voice on
Pro Tip: You can also require a 4-digit voice code to confirm Amazon purchases and payments. For more on buying stuff with Alexa, click here.


Bonus: Get ready for Alexa in the car & on the go

Echo Auto = Alexa in the car. The car is a great place to use Alexa because voice commands are extremely handy when you have both hands on the steering wheel. The Echo Auto, which sits on your dashboard and connects through your car speakers, is (sort of) here. I tried to buy it on Amazon, but it’s currently available “exclusively by invitation.” You can request an invitation by clicking the request invitation button.

Alexa earbuds = Alexa on the go. Expect to see Alexa earbuds later this year. They're billed as Amazon's answer to Apple AirPods, but with better audio quality and cheaper. I'll let VoiceBrew subscribers know as soon as they're available!

Interesting posts about Alexa this week


Amazon in Talks to Launch Ad-Supported Music Offering: Exclusive (Billboard). Pretty soon you'll be able to listen to music on your Echo device for FREE! Today, a $119-per-year Amazon Prime membership gets you complimentary access to 2 million songs -- or you can pay for an Amazon Music subscription or link up Alexa to your Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora, etc. account.

Amazon Alexa now offers long-form news coverage in addition to Flash Briefings (TechCrunch). Listening to news via 2-3 minute flash briefings is one of the top Alexa uses. Learn about a new feature Amazon is rolling out that will now allow you to get more in-depth news from your preferred news providers.

I Didn't Write This Column. I Spoke It. (New York Times). Read about how writer Farhad Manjoo's transition to writing by speaking has revolutionized how he works -- and what it has been like for him trying to live without a screen to interact with computers.

Alexa Games: the best games you can play on your smart speaker (TechRadar). See the best Alexa games right now according to Amazon's Head of Voice Design Education Paul Cutsinger.

Announcing the Winners of the Alexa Skills Challenges: Multimodal (Alexa Blogs). The challenge invited developers to build Alexa skills that utilized not only voice, but also the display (e.g., the screen on an Echo Show). Check out grand prize winner Loop It, which lets you create your own awesome-sounding audio loops.
If you have questions or ideas, I'd love to hear from you. Reply to this email or get in touch at kp@voicebrew.com. Thanks for being a subscriber to VoiceBrew!
Katherine Prescott
Founder, VoiceBrew
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