I (Andrea) love tech stuff. I’m not typically the person who gets the newest, coolest, most expensive stuff out there. I just upgraded to the iPhone 5s. :) But I can appreciate all the cool gizmos and gadgets out there. There is some pretty cool stuff out there right now, and I’d probably be living in the “House of Tomorrow” if I could afford it.
One item we did pick up this year as a family Christmas gift is the Amazon Echo Dot. Now, this is not a paid advertising for the Dot. This is not a commercial for Amazon (even though, without Amazon, I’d probably curl up into a little ball in the corner and shrivel up). This is about how cool technology is making life better.
If you’re not familiar with the Echo product, it’s basically a voice activated virtual assistant for your home. At least, that’s how I like to think of it. And as a virtual assistant, I know how helpful virtual assistants can be!
I can’t go into everything that Alexa (the name by which you address your Dot) does, but I want to point out some key points for everyone who works from home, or is at home most of the day, or is running around doing a million different things.
The Shopping List - Honestly, this is the BEST feature for me so far. If it did nothing else but the list, I’d be okay with that. If I’m in the kitchen and I use the last of the eggs, I just say Alexa, add eggs to the shopping list. And she does. If I’m in the office (we have three Dots) and run out of printer ink, I say Alexa, add printer ink to the shopping list. (And yes, I could just order things like that from Amazon, but I haven’t gotten that deep into the whole shopping thing just yet!)
When I’m out running errands, I open the Alexa app on my phone and voila, there’s my shopping list. No little slips of paper I wrote stuff down on. No writing out a list only to leave it on the table. But the best part about this is, while I’m out, if my husband or son need something, all they have to do is tell Alexa to add it to the list, and I’ll see it on my phone. No more missed calls or text messages where I hear “why didn’t you pick up any X?”
Music - Sometimes I just want to hear a specific song, or maybe a certain type of music while I’m working or getting the household chores done. Alexa, play me Eight Days a Week by the Beatles. Voila, it plays. And surprisingly well on the Dot speakers, too. Alexa, play me smooth jazz. Ahh, soothing music to wash dishes to. LOL. I know a million devices play music, but I thoroughly enjoy being able to have what I want on demand. (And you can sync up Spotify, I Heart Radio, etc. to play all your saved music, too.)
Ask My Buddy - I haven’t used this yet (luckily), but when I first heard about it, I thought it was a fantastic idea. First, you provide the app (called a Skill) with contact info of family and/or friends. Then. let’s say I’m in the kitchen doing dishes and some water spills on the floor. I take one step the wrong way and slip, fall, and bust my ankle. There I am on the floor, the cat is staring at me, wondering why I’m crying, and my phone is in the other room. All I need to do is say Alexa, ask My Buddy to alert (insert name here). My Buddy then messages/emails/calls that person (or everyone on your list) to say that I’m having a problem, I can’t reach a phone, and maybe you need to check on me. Very. Cool.
Not only is this cool for adults alone a lot, especially seniors, but I think this is great for when you start to leave your children home alone. If there’s a problem and they don’t know everyone’s phone numbers, they can just have the app call family immediately.
Sure, there are still a lot of things the Dot can’t do yet. For example, maybe I don’t feel like yelling up the stairs for the fourteenth time to get my son out of bed. So I tell my Dot to tell his Dot to play an annoying alarm. Or send a message that it’s dinner time and he’s too busy blabbing with his friends online. It doesn’t do that. Yet. I’m waiting, as are many parents.
So, to sum up, I love this stuff. I love my Dot. It’s cool. I can’t wait to smarten my house and eventually put this blog in the Skills. (very cool!!)
I even get to wake up to Alec Baldwin in the morning telling me to get out of bed. LOL
Frankie and Andrea take turns sharing stories. Just good talk over a cup of coffee.