10 useful or fun things to do with Alexa and your smart home devices
We’ve talked before about some of the surprising things you can do with your Amazon home hub and your smart devices, whether it’s giving the heating a boost or getting the coffee machine on in the morning.
Like any top tech, Alexa’s talents are always evolving – and, when paired with different smart home gadgets and Hive devices, the possibilities really are endless. From home security and practical tips to hidden party tricks, here’s an updated list of helpful and fun things you can do with Alexa.
Useful or fun things to do with Alexa
1. Check the weather, wherever you’re headed
Never get caught in the rain again, thanks to Alexa’s built-in meteorological mapping. Just ask Alexa "What's the weather today?" to find out the forecast in your area or "What's the weather in [city] or [city, country]?" if you’re headed to a specific destination. If you’re expecting a cold snap (snow in April, anyone?) use our smart thermostat to boost your heating – simply say, “Alexa, tell Hive to boost my heating”.
2. Set timers, alarms and reminders
Alexa’s timer feature can be your best friend if you’re boiling an egg. But if you need help beyond breakfast, Alexa can act as a personal assistant by setting appointment reminders and nudges based on your to-do list or calendar.
It also comes in handy when you need to know how many days you have until a specific date. Ask, "Alexa, how many [days/hours/minutes] until [Christmas/Halloween/my holiday?]" and it'll tell you exactly how much time you have left for present shopping, party planning or packing – or until your perfectly runny yolks are ready.
3. Entertain the whole family
“Knock, knock. Who’s there?” Alexa’s comedy skills are fairly common knowledge, but did you know that telling jokes is just one of its many talents? If you’re looking for fun things to do with Alexa, it can double up as a children’s entertainer. Just try these prompts for funny wisecracks and one-liners:
Alexa, can you entertain me?
Alexa, can we play an animal game?
Alexa, can you tell me a story?
Alexa, can you meow?
Alexa, can you bark?
Alexa, how was your day?
Alexa, how high can you count?
Alexa, what is the value of pi?
Alexa, how old are you?
Alexa, testing 1, 2, 3.
4. Up your general knowledge game
Alexa really does put the ‘smart’ in smart device as it knows tons of interesting trivia. Perfect if you want to brush up on your pub quiz facts or general knowledge. Try these prompts or get creative with your own – you’ll soon discover just how clever Alexa gadgets can be!
Alexa, can you give me a random fact?
Alexa, can you tell me a movie fact?
Alexa, what are some interesting history facts?
Alexa, what are some interesting sports facts?
Alexa, what are some interesting science facts?
Alexa, tell me about space.
Alexa, tell me about black holes.
Alexa, tell me about quantum physics.
5. Protect your home with a smart security setup
If you have an Amazon Echo, Dot, or Show paired with any smart home security devices, you can speak to those devices to control your smart security system. Check in with your smart camera, or set your HomeShield mode through Alexa. Try voice prompts such as:
Alexa, turn the cameras on.
Alexa, is my home armed?
Alexa, arm my home in night mode.
Alexa, arm my home in away mode.
Alexa, disarm my home. (Alexa will ask you for your voice PIN to do this)
6. Add an extra layer of security with Alexa Guard
Alexa Guard is a useful new feature for Echo product owners. It works by turning your smart speaker into a security device so it listens for signs of trouble such as glass breaking or your smoke alarm going off.
If it hears anything out of the ordinary, your Alexa app will notify you via your smartphone, laptop or smartwatch – so you have peace of mind knowing your home is well guarded when you're out of the house.
7. Get your five-a-day, the Alexa way
Ok, so Alexa can’t exactly get you eating more fruit or veg – but it can, on command, give you helpful nutrition advice. Simply ask, “Alexa, give me a nutrition tip" and your voice assistant will offer some general advice based on healthy lifestyle topics.
According to Alexa, drinking unflavoured coconut water is a healthy alternative to fruit juice, while herbs and spices are a good substitute for salt. She’s full of facts too: apparently nutritionists classify tomatoes as vegetables and a big one in a salad is half the daily vegetable intake needed. Tasty!
8. Switch your appliances on or off
Make that dreadful feeling of ‘Did I leave the iron/coffee machine/hair straighteners switched on?’ a thing of the past, without having to double back and check! If you use a smart plug then you can ask “Alexa, turn my plug [on/off]” or even create an Alexa group, such as Bedroom or Downstairs, and add the device(s) or sensor(s).
9. Give yourself a warm welcome
We’ve covered how to ask Alexa to heat up the house or turn on your smart lights when you’re on the way home before – but did you know you can also get a friendly greeting when you walk through the door? Sure it’s a machine, but that doesn’t mean it lacks manners! Try it out with prompts like “Alexa, I’m home!” and see what kind of welcome awaits you.
10. Discover even more of Alexa’s hidden talents
The list of fun things to do with Alexa is always growing, but Alexa will gladly share its secrets – you just need to ask. Say “Alexa, tell me an Easter egg” and it’ll give you a clue about a hidden trick or task it can do. You’ve got to work for it though, as you’ll need to figure out the right thing to say on your own... but often that’s the best bit!
Before you can make the most of any of these skills, you’ll need to make sure your smart home devices are paired with Alexa and ready to go. Should you need it, here’s a quick run through of the Amazon Alexa setup and how to connect to your Hive devices.
How to get started: Amazon Alexa setup with Hive
From your Alexa app, tap ‘Skills and Games’ in the menu and search for ‘Hive’.
Now enter your Hive username and password and follow the onscreen instructions.
Once you have enabled the Hive skill, you need to get Alexa to discover devices for your smart home skill if Alexa hasn’t already. You can do this by saying ‘Alexa discover devices’.
Now the fun part. Ask Alexa to control Hive. There are loads of things you can do with Alexa including controlling your heating, lighting, smart plugs and loads more. Discover a full list of things you can control with Hive and Alexa.