Amazon Echo: what it is and how it works

Amazon Echo devices

Before delving into the operation of the devices Amazon Echo and to discover, in more detail, what they are able to do, it seems only right to list them all and illustrate their peculiarities.

It should be noted that the functions related to Alexa are the same on all Echo models: what changes is the format of the device, the power of the audio (both outgoing and incoming), integration with home automation systems, the connections for external speakers and the presence of the display. To find out more, read on.

Amazon Echo Flex

Amazon Echo Flex it is the cheapest device of the Echo family. It is a small speaker that connects directly to the power outlet (similar to what is done with some compact Wi-Fi repeaters) and offers a USB port to charge / power your devices or install a Smart night light (from buy separately). The ideal solution to enter the world of Alexa or to have the ability to transport the Amazon assistant easily from one room to another in the house.

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Amazon Echo Dot

Amazon Echo Dot is the "little one" of the Amazon Echo family. In its most recent version, the 4th generation, it consists of a small sphere of 100 x 100 x 89 mm for 328 grams of weight equipped with a 1,6 "(41 mm) speaker, 3,5 mm stereo audio output for use with external speakers (connection that can also take place wirelessly, via Bluetooth) and support for dual-band Wi-Fi ac.

Also noteworthy is the presence of keys to adjust the volume and disable the microphone, plus a light ring, located at the bottom of the device, which indicates the status of the device and the requests made by the user.

It is available in colors anthracite, White iceceruleo. It can also be purchased bundled with devices for the Smart Home and is also available in a variant with integrated LED display (to display the time), which costs a little more.

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Also of note is the availability of the old 3rd generation Echo Dot, which technically does not change much from its successor, but has a more flattened, "dot" shape (hence the name "Dot"), and measures 43 x 99 x 99 mm for 300 grams of weight.

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Amazon Echo

Amazon Echo it is the right device for those looking for a personal assistant and, at the same time, a good speaker for listening to music. It is, in fact, a speaker with a spherical shape (in the 4th generation model) of 144 x 144 x 133 mm for 970 grams of weight equipped with a 3 "(76,2 mm) neodymium woofer e due tweeter da 0,8” (20 mm) for super enveloping sound, also enhanced by Dolby's premium adaptive sound.

It then features a Zigbee hub integrated, which allows you to control devices for home automation based on the Zigbee system without relying on third-party applications, a 3.5 mm audio input / output, support for the latest generation Bluetooth and Wi-Fi technologies, a light ring in the low key and keys to control the volume, key to deactivate / activate the microphone and action key. It is available in colors anthracite, White iceblu-ceruleo. It is also sold bundled with smart home devices.

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Those who prefer the cylindrical shape may want to consider the old 3ª Echo, which includes a 3 "(76,2 mm) neodymium woofer it's a tweeter da 0,8 "(20 mm), measures 148 x 99 x 99 mm for 780 grams of weight and has 7 microphones to pick up the user's voice even from long distances. It doesn't include Zigbee support, doesn't work like Amazon Sidewalk bridge, and doesn't have Dolby's premium adaptive sound.

Amazon Echo Plus

Amazon Echo Plus is an enhanced version of the 3rd generation Amazon Echo. The 4th generation Echo, in fact, includes almost all its features, making it a product likely to be released from the Amazon catalog.

That said, it is a speaker strongly focused on listening to music and home automation. In fact, it looks like a cylindrical speaker of 148 x 99 x 99 mm for 780 grams of weight, with a woofer from 76 mm, for an tweeter da 20 mm, 7 microphones it's a Zigbee hub thanks to which it is possible to control the home automation devices based on the system in question without using third-party applications.

Amazon Echo Studio

Amazon Echo Studio it is the ideal solution for those looking for a device to be used for listening to high quality audio. Includes well five speakers delivering powerful bass, dynamic mids and crisp highs with technologies Dolby Atmos e Sony 360 Reality Audio, for a 360-degree immersive sound. Going more into the technical, it includes un woofer will give 13,3 cm e 330 Wa tweeter that 2,5 cm e tre midrange da 5 cm, combined with a DAC to 24 bit it's a 100 kHz amplifier.

Includes a Zigbee hub for the control of Smart devices and can be paired singly or in pairs with Fire TV devices, to give an extremely immersive audio experience. It measures 206 x 175 mm for 3,5 kg of weight and is available only in dark color.

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Amazon Echo Spot

Amazon Echo Spot it is distinguished from the devices of the Echo family mentioned above by the presence of a and a front camera. It appears, in fact, as a sort of "eye" on the front of which the "usual" luminous ring (which indicates the status of the device) stands out, a 64mm color touch-screen which is always on to show useful information (time, weather, last engagements, etc.) and a front camera. Above it has physical buttons to adjust the volume and turn off the microphone, while on the back it has a '3.5mm audio output for connection to external speakers (connection that can also be established wirelessly, via Bluetooth).

Despite the small dimensions (104 mm x 97 mm x 91 mm for 419 grams of weight), thanks to thebuilt-in 36mm speaker manages to reproduce a good sound (albeit a little lacking in bass). THE 4 microphonesthen, they allow you to control it even from important distances. The presence of the screen allows you to view videos (e.g. news from the news or Amazon Prime Video TV series), control the device manually (as well as by voice), view footage from surveillance cameras, make video calls and view information that otherwise could only be heard (eg the steps needed to cook a dish).

It is available in colors White e black and you can buy it bundled with a Amazon Smart Plug, a set of light bulbs Philips Hue Color or a set of light bulbs Philips Hue White. It represents the right choice for those looking for a more versatile device than the other Echos and have no particular needs in terms of audio quality.

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Amazon Echo and Amazon Echo Plus can be combined with each other to create one pair of stereo speakers and / or can be associated with a subwoofer. To establish the connection, the speakers must be online and connected to the same network and, of course, they must be placed in the same room. The connection must then be configured via the app Amazon Alexa for smartphones and tablets, which I'll tell you more about in another chapter of the tutorial.

In this regard, I would like to point out the availability of Echo Sub, a subwoofer made by Amazon specifically for Echo devices. It features a 6 ”(152mm) 100W downfiring woofer that reproduces deep bass sound.

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Amazon Echo Show 10

Amazon Echo Show (3rd generation) is the most complete Echo device, which focuses heavily on the use of visual content, such as videos and information from the Internet. It is equipped with a touch-screen da 10.1″ of the robotic HD type, able to move according to the user's gaze, which is able to follow thanks to a front camera from 13MP (with privacy camera cover).

The audio compartment consists of a 2.1 system: stereo with 2 1 "(25 mm) tweeters and a 3" (76 mm) woofer. There are also a Zigbee hub integrated, thanks to which it is possible to control home automation devices based on this system without using third-party applications, and support for the latest Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technologies. To underline the support for the most popular entertainment apps, such as Prime Video, Prime Music, Netflix, Spotify and Apple Music. It is available in colors anthracite e White ice.

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Amazon Echo Show 5

THEAmazon Echo Show 5 it is a smaller version of Ecco Show, with 5,5 "color touch screen and 960 x 480 pixels, 2MP camera, integrated camera cover and button to turn off microphone and camera. Its audio compartment sees the presence of a 1,6 "and 4 W speaker. It supports Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. It is sold alone or in bundles including a Smart plug or video intercom (Ring).

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Amazon Echo Show 8

One step up is theEcho Show 8 featuring an 8 ″ HD display, 52mm stereo speakers with passive bass radiator. It also includes a button to deactivate the microphones and the camera (13 MP) with a 110 ° field of view with automatic framing of the subject in video calls and many augmented reality effects, a physical switch to darken the camera and the integrated ZigBee hub for control compatible smart devices.

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If you were wondering, having two or more Amazon Echos in the same house, the device closest to the user automatically responds to the “Alexa” command. The commands can be given by all the people in the house, they are not tied to the voice recognition of a single person.

Amazon Echo Input

Amazon Echo Input it is not a speaker like the other Amazon Echo models, but a device that, associated with an external speaker, be it Bluetooth or with only a wired connection (via classic 3.5mm jack), allows you to use Alexa voice commands with the latter. It includes four microphones and is available in both white and black. It also comes bundled with some popular speakers, such as Ultimate Ears BOOM 3 and Ultimate Ears MEGABOOM 3. That said, it can be paired with any Bluetooth speaker or speaker. It should also be noted that it does not support calls and messages via Bluetooth.

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Amazon Echo Auto

Amazon Echo Auto is a device that allows you to bring Alexa even in cars. It connects to the car's cigarette lighter and thus allows you to access all the services of the Alexa world, such as music streaming services, online radios and so on. It has Bluetooth connectivity, 3.5mm AUX audio output and 8 noise canceling microphones. Here the compatible car models.

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What can be done with Alexa

Before considering purchasing an Amazon Echo, you will almost certainly want to find out in more detail what it can do Alexa, the personal assistant that animates the devices produced by the ecommerce giant.

It would be practically impossible to list all Alexa's features - there are so many! -, so I will limit myself to giving you some practical examples on what may be its most common applications.

Like any self-respecting personal assistant, Alexa is capable of set reminders and alarms, supply weather information e steal information from the Internet to answer user questions (eg "Alexa, why is the sky blue?", "Alexa, what are Napoli doing?", "Alexa, what distance is there between the sun and the Earth?" and so on). It also lets you know the price and buy products on Amazon and to set up morning and evening routines, through which, for example, listen to the most important news of the day, receive information on weather conditions and find out the list of personal commitments.

A separate chapter, then, deserve the functions related to multimedia use: thanks to its integration with services such as TuneIn, Spotify and of course Amazon Music, Alexa is able to play songs, albums, playlists or radio stations on request by the user (eg "Alexa, let me listen to some jazz music", "Alexa, let me listen to Smooth Criminal by Michael Jackson "," Alexa, let me listen to Rai Radio 2 "etc.). Also, you can ask Alexa to read books from your Kindle library, play your favorite podcasts and more.

Among the strengths of Alexa, as already mentioned above, there is also the home automation: if you have Smart devices compatible with Amazon Echo, you can ask Alexa to turn lights on and off, open the shutters, view the footage of the surveillance cameras (in the case of Amazon Echo Spot) and so on.

Not even the divertissement: Alexa, in fact, can tell jokes, suggest movies for the evening and, thanks to some skills developed by third parties, even formulate riddles, take quizzes and play Chinese morra.

What are the skill? Quite simply one of Alexa's coolest features, which allow Amazon's personal assistant to expand its capabilities virtually indefinitely. To simplify the concept as much as possible, we can think of Alexa skills as "apps" that are installed in your account (therefore they are automatically activated on all Amazon Echoes in your possession) and allow you to access services, sites and applications of third parties through precise voice commands.

For example, it is possible to install the aforementioned games or the skills of services such as JustEat (to repeat previous orders or to know the status of your current order), SuperGuidaTV (to know the TV programs of the evening), Rai Radio Newspaper (to listen to the latest news from GR Rai) and the list could go on indefinitely.

In case you were wondering, Amazon Echo devices hear what the user says only when activated via the “Alexa” command (or one of the alternative commands that can be set through the Alexa app). They do not constantly "spy" on what is being said in the house. Also, by connecting to this web page and logging into your Amazon account (or by going to the Settings> Alexa Account> History of the Alexa app) you can view and manage the history of all the voice commands given to your Echoes.

If you want to know more about Alexa and its potential, visit the Amazon Echo purchase page and click on the button Find out what Alexa can do, which is on the left or, alternatively, visit the Amazon page with FAQs related to Alexa and Amazon Echo devices.

How to use Amazon Echo

Now that you should have clear enough ideas about the various Amazon Echo models available and the Alexa features, I would say that we can get deeper into the matter and find out, together, how to use Amazon Echo.

All Amazon Echos come with a power cord and power supply and can be easily configured via the app Amazon Alexa for Android, iOS and Fire OS. The only exception is the Amazon Echo Spot, which can be configured directly via its integrated touch-screen. But let's go in order.

Initial configuration

To put yours into operation Amazon Echo, Echo Plus o Echo Dot, connect the device to the power supply and wait a few seconds, until you hear Alexa's voice asking you to perform the initial configuration via the app.

So take your smartphone (or your tablet) and download the app Amazon Alexa, if you haven't already done so. If you are not very good with technology and do not know how to proceed, open the default store of your device (eg. Play Store if you use an Android or App Store if you're using an iPhone or iPad), search “alexa” within the latter, select the icon Amazon Alexa from the search results (it is blue with a white border in the center) and proceed with the installation of the app by pressing the button Installa / Ottieni. If you are using an iPhone or iPad, you may be asked to verify your identity using Face ID, Touch ID, or by entering your Apple ID password.

Once the download is complete, start the Alexa application and log in using your data Amazon account. Then press the button Continue to accept the conditions of use of Alexa and press the button for Configure an Amazon Echo.

If this is not the first time you have set up an Amazon Echo, to start the pairing procedure for a new device, you must go to the section devices of the app (the icon of the house with the two control rods inside, which is located at the bottom right) and then press the button capacitor positive (+) lead, top right. From the same menu, you can also create a group and control several devices at the same time.

Now select the Amazon Echo model in your possession (eg. Amazon Echo, Amazon Echo Plus o Amazon Echo Dot), push the button Continue, wait for your Echo's light ring to turn Orange and press once more on Continue.

At this point, access the menu Settings> Wi-Fi of your smartphone (or tablet), connected to the network Amazon-xxx generated by your Echo and returns to the Alexa app. Once this is done, click on the button Continue, select the WIFI network home (i.e. the Wi-Fi network to which you intend to connect your Amazon Echo) and, if requested, enter the access key.

After this step too, press the button Continue and choose whether to connect your Echo to a Bluetooth speaker, to a speaker via AUX cable or use the Echo's built-in speaker. Once you have made your choice, select yours name in the screen that is proposed to you, make sure that name and surname are correct in the appropriate text fields (otherwise modify them) and press on Continue to go to the next step.

The next step is to provide the application with the necessary permissions to access contacts and notifications: then press the button Allow and answer affirmatively to the warnings that appear on the screen. Then type yours cellphone number in the form that is submitted to you, click on Continue and confirm your identity by typing the verification code you receive via SMS.

Mission accomplished! Now you just have to look at the introductory video of Amazon Echo and press three times on NEXT to start "talking" with Alexa and take advantage of all its features. You can choose whether to view some things to try (so find out some of the commands you can give Alexa) or whether to go to the home screen Alexa app.

As already mentioned above, Amazon Echo Spot it can be configured directly from its touch-screen. To proceed, connect the device to the power supply, wait for the initial menu to appear and select the language to use, presumably thein your languagen.

After that, select the WIFI network to which you want to connect the Echo Spot, type the relative access key and go ahead, pressing on the appropriate one arrow present at the bottom of the screen. Then log in to yours Amazon account by typing in the relevant credentials, confirm that you are the person to whom the newly configured account is associated and set the time zone.

After this step too, assign a name to your Echo Spot, choose whether to download and install any updates available and, after seeing the video presentation of the device, begins to interact with Alexa to take advantage of all its functions.

First steps with Alexa

Once your Amazon Echo is set up, you are ready to get to know Alexa and become familiar with its main functions. As already pointed out above, Alexa is able to control Smart devices from supported manufacturers (e.g. Philips, Hive, tp-link, Osram and Netatmo), play songs, playlists or stations dedicated to individual artists on Amazon Music and Spotify, play radio stations from all over the world via TuneIn, set reminders and alarms, translate words or phrases, read the latest news from various sources, communicate current and upcoming weather conditions, add items to the shopping list, find out the price of products on Amazon and buy them, read books in the Kindle library and much more.

All commands must be preceded by the name "Alexa", which serves to "wake up" the Amazon Echo and issue commands to the device. When the device is listening, this is signaled by the switching on of thelight ring which is located on its front.

To get a better idea of ​​what Amazon's assistant has to offer, launch the Alexa on your smartphone (or tablet) and browse the tabs available on the home page of the latter, within which you can find a general summary with today's date, weather information and a series of tabs that illustrate some operations that you can accomplish with Amazon Echo devices.

Then pressing the ☰ button (located at the top left) and selecting the item Things to try from the side menu you can view a page with categories of actions that Alexa is able to perform. For example, selecting the icon let's start, you can discover some of the main commands you can give to Alexa to take your first steps with Amazon Echo devices; pressing the icon weather you can find out all the commands related to the weather; selecting the icon Alexa's talents you can discover some of Alexa's “hidden talents” (such as her ability to sing songs or tell stories) and so on.

If you want to stop Alexa while playing content or executing a command, you can say something like “Alexa, stop!”, Or “Alexa, stop!“. If, on the other hand, you want to make sure that your Amazon Echo is not listening and does not respond to the keyword "Alexa", you can temporarily disable the device's microphone by pressing the appropriate button located on the front of the device.

If you have one Amazon Echo Spot, you can interact with it and take advantage of various commands via touch-screen instead of voice. For example, you can control the playback of a song using the timeline that appears at the edge of the screen, stop or resume playback or skip to the next / previous song by pressing the buttons that appear on the display.

By swiping from the top of the screen to the bottom, however, you can access the main menu of Echo Spot, through which you can return to the home screen, activate / deactivate the "do not disturb" mode, access the settings menu, adjust the brightness screen, set alarms, and more.

Skill installation

As widely mentioned above, thanks to the skill Alexa's capabilities can be infinitely expanded and Echo products can be given access to a wide range of third-party services, apps, and games that wouldn't otherwise be supported. At this point, you are surely wondering how to install the skills on Amazon Echo. Well: know that the answer is very simple, just use the Amazon Alexa app for smartphones and tablets.

To proceed, start the Alexa app on your device, press the ☰ button (located at the top left) and select the item Skills and games from the menu that appears on the side. At this point, you can decide whether to browse the available skills based on those that have been featured by Amazon (Top Skill), whether to view them based on their categories of belonging by selecting one of the appropriate items at the bottom of the screen (eg. Business and finance, Smart home, Food and beverages, Movies and TV, Games and quizzes, Meteorology, Music and audio, News, Utility etc.) or whether to search for them by name, using the appropriate bar located at the top.

Once you have found the skill of your interest, select it and proceed with its installation on your account by pressing the button Attiva. Within a few seconds, the skill will become active on all your Amazon Echos and you can recall it simply by reciting the voice commands illustrated in the boxes Try saying (eg "Alexa, start Ocean Noise" to start the skill that plays the soothing sounds of the ocean).

In case of second thoughts, you can disable the skills previously activated on your Amazon Echo by selecting them from the menu Skills and games and pressing the deactivation button. Easier than that?

Lists, reminders and alarms

Other very useful functions of Amazon Echo (and therefore of Alexa) are those related to list, To reminder and at alarm clocks. Lists, as can be easily understood, are lists of objects, products, people, etc. which can be updated at any time and are also accessible from the Alexa smartphone app. I don't think there is a need to talk about reminders and alarms: the former allow you to remember things to do (with voice alerts from Amazon Echo and smartphone notifications), the latter allow you to receive acoustic alerts at set times.

To add an item to a list, just tell Amazon Echo “Alexa, add [item] to list [list name]”. To set reminders and alarms, instead, just say “Alexa, remind me that [date and / or time] I have to do [task to complete]” and “Alexa, notify me at [time]”.

Subsequently, you can access lists, reminders and alarms by starting the Alexa app, pressing the ☰ button located at the top left and selecting the item List or the voice Reminder and alarm clock from the menu that compares di lato.

Calls and messages

The Amazon Echos can also be used as receivers for calls and messages made through the Alexa app. Calls are made through a named function Drop in, which must be activated by going to the section Communication application (the comic located at the bottom left), by pressing the button Drop in and then Settings. In the screen that opens, you must then move to ON the levetta relative alla voce Authorize calls with Drop In and answer OK to the warning that appears on the screen.

Once this is done, it becomes possible to make calls (and send messages) to the Echos. To make a call to your Amazon Echo, go to the section Communication of the Amazon Alexa app, presses the button Drop in, select the device you want to call and that's it.

To send a message, instead, access the section Communication of the Amazon Alexa app, presses the button Messages and select the contact you want to send a message to. You will be able to select all the names of your friends who have an Amazon Echo and have consented to receive messages on the latter (as well as your name, to send a message to your Amazon Echo).

Personalization of Alexa and Echo

Using the Alexa app, it is possible to customize the operation of all Amazon Echo devices by choosing, for example, which operations to have them perform during the opening and closing routines of the day, setting the default service for music, choosing calendars to use to manage tasks and much more.

To change Alexa settings, launch the app Amazon Alexa on your smartphone (or tablet), press the ☰ button located at the top left and select the item Settings from the menu that appears on the side. On the next screen, locate the section Alexa preferences and choose one of the available options.

  • Music - to choose the default music service (Amazon Music o Spotify) with which to listen to the contents requested from Alexa and connect the related accounts to the Amazon Echo.
  • Daily summary - to select the contents to be reproduced in your daily summary, which can be recalled using the phrase “Alexa, play my daily summary”. It is also possible to activate the reproduction of contents coming from the activated skills.
  • Traffic - to set your position and thus obtain traffic information.
  • Sport - to select the football, basketball and other sports teams for which you want to receive news by giving the command "Alexa, what is my sports news?".
  • Calendars - to connect the calendars of services such as Google, Outlook, iCloud and Microsoft Exchange to Alexa.

If you want to customize the settings of your Amazon Echo, go to the section devices the Alexa app (the house with the two control rods inside, located at the bottom right), presses the icon Echo & Alexa and select the name of your Echo. At this point, choose the setting you want to change.

  • Change name - to change the device name.
  • Volume - to adjust the volume of the Amazon Echo (an operation that you can also perform using the physical buttons on the device).
  • Bluetooth devices - to pair a Bluetooth device to the Amazon Echo (e.g. a smartphone) and use it as an output speaker.
  • WIFI network - to change, if necessary, the Wi-Fi network to connect the Amazon Echo to.
  • Stereo / subwoofer pair - to start the pairing procedure with another Amazon Echo of the same type and / or a subwoofer to create a complete audio system.
  • Sounds - to change the sounds emitted by the device.
  • Do not disturb - to activate or deactivate the "do not disturb" mode, during which the Amazon Echo does not emit sounds, except for alarms and timers.
  • Communication - to activate or deactivate the ability to receive communications from other people on your Amazon Echo.
  • Location - to specify your address and use it for operations that require geographical location.
  • Time zone - to adjust the time zone.
  • Activation word - to choose whether to activate Amazon Echo by saying the word "Alexa" or other keywords, such as "Amazon", "Echo" or "Computer".
  • Language - to set the language for Alexa to speak.
  • Measure unit - to choose the units of measurement that Alexa should use to indicate distances, temperatures, etc.
  • Cancel registration - to unpair the device from your Amazon account.

How to use Alexa on smartphones and tablets

Are you away from home or on a floor of your home where there is no Amazon Echo? Don't worry: you can use Alexa directly from your smartphone or tablet. All you need to do is launch the Alexa, press the assistant icon (the comic) located at the bottom center and press the button Allow.

Therefore, allow the app to access the microphone of your smartphone and the address book, responding in the affirmative to the warnings that appear on the screen, and press on Done to access Alexa.

Mission accomplished! From now on, every time you open the Alexa app and press the assistant icon (the comic, bottom center), you can make your requests to Alexa, who will reply directly from the device you are using.

Learn more about Alexa and Amazon Echo

If you still have any doubts about the operation of the Amazon Echo devices and Alexa, consult the Amazon support pages dedicated to the latter: assistance on Alexa features, assistance for Echo, assistance for Echo Dot, assistance for Echo, assistance for Echo Plus and support for Echo devices with a screen.

Amazon Echo: what it is and how it works

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