Wednesday, March 22

What is Alexa and what can the Amazon assistant do for you? | Digital Trends Spanish

Amazon’s interactive voice assistant is in its Echo speakers, smart thermostats, sound bars, lamps and more, including your phone (via its app). In this guide we explain what is Alexahow it works, where its peculiar name comes from and everything you need to know.

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What or who is Alexa?

For most people, Alexa is to Amazon what “Siri” is to Apple: it’s a voice that you can ask questions of or ask it to perform a series of tasks. Alexa has been built into many of Amazon’s services and can be used with products like the original Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Spot, or Amazon Fire TV.

But really, what exactly is Alexa? When you ask a question, what you are doing is communicating with a cloud-based service. Amazon has designed the Alexa Voice Service (AVS) to mimic real conversations, but you’re actually using intuitive voice commands to have this service perform specific tasks. The word Alexa is simply the “alert word”, which wakes up the service to start listening to your voice.

So is
as amazon describes Alexa Voice Service: “Alexa Voice Service (AVS) is Amazon’s intelligent voice recognition and natural language service, which allows you to enable speech on any connected device that has a microphone and speaker.”

That’s why you’re starting to see Alexa on headphones and other devices. “Alexa gets smarter with new capabilities through machine learning,” says the Amazon Developer site.

Although Alexa is the official name for Amazon’s voice assistant, you can change this alert name to “Amazon”, “Computer”, or “Echo”. This is a useful feature, especially if your name or your significant other’s or roommate’s name happens to be Alexa or something similar.

Why the name “Alexa”?

an amazon echo show device

According to David Limp, the Amazon executive who oversaw the service’s development, the name “Alexa” was chosen for a number of reasons. First, that name goes back to the Library of Alexandria, which attempted to collect all the knowledge in the world. Amazon is trying to do the same; Alexa is always learning something new, but in theory she should be a perfect source of information.

More practically, the service was named Alexa because it contains the unusual “X” sound. Since this service is voice-activated, Amazon wanted to choose a name that wouldn’t be confused with other words that could accidentally wake up the device.

“We considered various names, and the name is very important to the personality that is built around a cloud computer-based voice,” Limp said. adding that there is also computer science behind this decision. “If any of you have an Echo device, you know that you only wake up when you hear the word ‘Alexa’, and the phonemes of that word, how it parses, and the fact that it has a difficult consonant with the ‘X’ in it , makes sure it wakes up only when requested”

But what if Alexa is someone’s name in your house, or yours? Fortunately, you can change this wake word to “Amazon” or “Echo.” That’s a handy feature, especially if you don’t want your device to accidentally wake up every time someone calls you out loud.

Where can I use Alexa?

While Alexa has become synonymous with products in the Echo line, you can’t really just go out and buy “Alexa.” Just like you can buy an iPhone with Siri, but you can’t buy a “Siri,” you need to have a device that has voice assistant built-in.

Similarly, to use Alexa you will need a device that integrates voice technology. Usually this means an Amazon device, like the Echo, Echo Dot, or Echo Show, but this cloud-based personal voice assistant has also been integrated with some third-party systems. Devices like Fire TV are also compatible with Alexa, as are the Ecobee Switch+ light system, LG InstaView refrigerator and speaker. Sonos One.

Alexa has also become the center of many smart home systems, including Wink, SmartThings, and Logitech Harmony. You can also use the voice assistant to build your smart home piecemeal, as Alexa can pair with devices like WeMo switches and Nest thermostats.

What can Alexa do?

The list of commands that Alexa can understand is continually growing. Amazon calls them “skills,” and now you can even create your own skills through Amazon Blueprints, and following Amazon’s latest update, you can even publish them to the Amazon Skills Store for other people to use on their devices. The number of tasks that Alexa can perform is clearly more than we can list in this article, but here are some of our favorites:

  • Order almost anything online.
  • Track your Amazon packages.
  • Find recipes and step-by-step audible instructions.
  • Control the devices in your smart home.
  • Read Kindle books.
  • Get times for movies, concerts, or sporting events.
  • Order pizza or find nearby restaurants.
  • Pay your bills with the Capital One app.
  • Receive pregnancy advice.
  • Track your Amazon packages.
  • Receive news updates.
  • You can ask Alexa to read your emails.
  • You can make reminders.
  • You can make your home more secure with Alexa Guard and Away Mode.

Like the Google Assistant, Alexa also has the ability to set routines, where it performs a series of tasks with a single command that you set. For example, by saying “Alexa, good night,” the assistant turns off the lights, closes the garage door, secures the front door locks, activates the alarm, and sets your coffee maker to turn on at a certain time. If you don’t want to wake up your partner, Alexa has a whisper mode, where if you speak softly to her, she will understand you, and she will respond softly in the same way.

Alexa Guard is a useful security feature that carefully monitors the perimeter of your home and activity inside when you’re not there. If your Echo speaker picks up unusual sounds, like breaking glass or any other mysterious noise, Alexa will quickly alert you with a notification to check your home. With Alexa Guard Plus (a paid version of the same feature), you’ll get the same home monitoring feature, access to Amazon’s hotline, and several other security tools.

Amazon is constantly working to improve and expand the features and capabilities of Alexa by creating valuable and intuitive technologies. For example, the company is currently working on developing frustration and detection features, so that Alexa will be able to understand your tone of voice and know if you’re disappointed with her.

If you want to learn more about Alexa, all you have to do is ask, “Alexa, what’s new today?” and she’ll be happy to explain it to you.

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