Alexa, the brain behind Amazon’s Echo devices and the voice assistant that powers them, is more than just a helpful personal assistant. She’s also a veritable treasure trove of information.
The Alexa voice assistant is free-to-use, with no required subscriptions or fees. The only costs of having Alexa are the Echo or Fire TV devices (typically $20–100 each) you use it with and any premium services you subscribe to (music, security, etc.).
What is Alexa?
Alexa is both a voice-activated helper and an intelligent home companion. When you use Alexa, she can help you with everyday tasks like setting timers or alarms, asking for the weather forecast or recipes for dinner, playing music and even controlling your smart home products. You can also use her to control your smart home devices or learn more about the world around you with just your voice.
Alexa is the name for Amazon’s voice-activated virtual assistant found in its line of Echo products.
Unlike Siri and Google Assistant, Alexa doesn’t have a physical form — she lives in your home and interacts with you through your device. You can talk to her or whisper quietly while doing something else to ask her questions or get things done around the house.
Alexa is the cloud-based voice service that powers Amazon Echo. It’s also used in other devices like the Amazon Tap, Fire TV, and Fire tablets. With Alexa, you can shop, find information, manage your everyday tasks and control your smart home devices.
To get started with Alexa, download the app for iOS or Android and set up your device by following the instructions on screen. Then say “Alexa” to wake it up and start speaking commands.
How Does Alexa Work?
In order to work properly with Echo devices, Alexa has been built on top of AWS Lambda functions — which means she works by tapping into Amazon’s cloud computing services when needed.
Those functions are essentially scripts that run automatically on Amazon servers in response to spoken words or phrases from users like “Alexa” or “Echo.” When those words are spoken aloud, they trigger a series of actions in response that might include turning on lights in a room, playing music or answering questions.
How Much Do Alexa Devices Cost?
Alexa is available for free via the Alexa smartphone app or a $40+ Amazon Echo or third-party smart speaker. As a rule, there are no ongoing monthly costs. The only costs of having Alexa are the Echo or Fire TV devices (typically $20–100 each) you use it with and any premium services you subscribe to (music, security, etc.)
Premium services such as Amazon Music Unlimited, Amazon Prime, Audible, and Spotify can also help Alexa perform better.
Separate subscriptions are required for some Amazon Alexa skills (their term for apps). Typically, they are apps for security and monitoring services, as well as music and video streaming services.
On your Alexa device, an Amazon Prime subscription grants you access to Amazon Music, Amazon Prime Video, and other Amazon services. This isn’t a required subscription, but if you have Prime, you’ll get a lot more out of Alexa.
Access to Alexa skills is usually free if you already have a subscription to a streaming service. However, you may find that only the paid tiers of some music services work on Echo devices. Only Spotify Premium subscribers, for example, can use Spotify with Alexa.
Benefits Of Using Alexa
Alexa offers many benefits to users. They include:
- Simple to set up: Setting up Alexa is very simple and does not require any additional hardware or software. All you need is an internet connection and the device that supports Alexa.
- Easy to use: There are no complicated instructions for using Alexa as it can be used by anyone with ease. The only requirement is that you must have a device that supports Alexa such as your smartphone or laptop etc.
- Accessible from anywhere: Users can access Alexa from anywhere as long as they have an internet connection. There is no need to keep the device at one place as it can be used from any location without any hassle.
- Control your smart home devices: You can use Alexa to control any device that is compatible with voice commands. This includes lights, locks, thermostats, fans, and more. You can also create routines for your smart home devices so that they work automatically when you want them to. For example, you can start playing music at bedtime by saying “Alexa, turn off all my lights” or “Alexa, lock the front door.”
- Alexa is always on – This means that you don’t have to sit at your computer or phone waiting for something to happen. You can simply ask Alexa for information whenever you need it without having to wait for anything to load or respond.
- Alexa doesn’t get tired eyes – Many people find that staring at computer screens can cause eye strain or headaches after a while. Having Alexa around makes it easier for those who want to keep their eyes fixed on something other than a screen all day long!
- Alexa doesn’t require any physical action – You don’t have click buttons or type out commands when using Alexa – just ask her what you want and she will respond!
- Play music from multiple sources: You can use Alexa to play music from Spotify or Amazon Music Unlimited as well as from other services like Pandora and iHeartRadio by simply asking her to do so. If you have an Amazon Music Unlimited subscription and an Echo device (or any other Alexa-enabled device), then you can ask her to play any song or artist that’s available on the service. And if she doesn’t know it right away (which happens