13 Surprising Things Alexa Can Help You Do

published Oct 4, 2020
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Virtual assistants, like Alexa, can help with a wide variety of practical everyday tasks—things like setting a timer, reciting the weather, or playing any type of music instantly. But if you have one of these devices, chances are you’ve only just begun to scratch the surface of functionality. To help you get the most out of your device, we’ve rounded up more than a dozen lesser-known features of Amazon’s Alexa.

1. Save Money on Water Use

If you’re using more home utilities (like water) than ever, you’re not alone. Luckily, there are devices like Flume that track water use 24/7, which helps you notice things like excessive water use and leaks ASAP. To make sure you’re on top of things, connect Flume to Alexa—she’ll give you a heads up as soon as water usage in your home begins to fluctuate. Pretty handy, right?

2. Find Recipes 

If you find that you’re always staring at a cabinet or fridge full of mismatched ingredients wondering what you can whip up, Alexa can help with that. Simply download the “skill” for Alexa on the corresponding app, then browse through thousands of recipes by dish or ingredient.

3. Find Your Phone

Whether you’re an Android or Apple user, there are ways to use Alexa to find your phone. Simply follow a few steps now (while, you know, you do have your phone) and it’ll make your life that much easier down the road.  Again, as PC Mag explains, you have to download this skill for Alexa, but the steps are fairly easy once you do.

4. Order Takeout 

Once you download this particular skill, you can instruct Alexa to order your go-to delivery or takeout order. Pretty clutch (or dangerous?) for meeting those late-night snack cravings, if you ask me. 

5. Order Groceries

Similarly, it’s easy to order groceries (or just about anything that Amazon or Whole Foods offers) through Alexa. There are only two steps—ordering and checking out—and you can do them both by voice.

Credit: Tara Bellucci

6. Play White Noise

If you’re used to sleeping with background noise (city sounds, AC units, ceiling fans, etc.), trying to go to sleep in complete silence can feel almost impossible. Luckily, Alexa can easily play white noise for as long as you need it to. This is also a helpful feature if you have a baby or young child who struggles to fall asleep or is easily awoken by other noises.

7. Call Someone 

Hands full? Need to make an urgent call? It’s pretty simple to have Alexa call someone in your contact list. There are a few steps you’ll need to do to set this up (PC Mag covers them pretty extensively here), but it’s pretty simple and could come in handy during a particularly busy day.

8. Set Reminders

Most people have figured out how to use Alexa to set a timer for cooking or other timed tasks, but have you thought to use the device to set reminders? Simply say, “Alexa remind me to [insert task here] in [insert time here].” You’ll never forget an appointment or important task again.

9. Wake You Up to a Certain Sound/Station

Sick of your phone alarm? You can program Alexa to wake you up to the sound of NPR, a specific playlist, or any other sound of your choosing. According to Flyost, simply say, “Alexa, wake me up at 8:00 a.m. to NPR” (or whatever time and sound you’d like) and let it works its magic. 

10. Feed Your Pet 

Alexa can also connect to a high-tech feeder, like a Furbo, and feed your pet at a moment’s notice. One less thing to worry about as you wind down every evening and start your day.

11. Connect With a FitBit

If you have a FitBit, you can connect it to your Alexa. This way, you can get periodic updates throughout the day about how many steps you’ve taken, how much activity you still need, and more. Hard to argue with another way to stay active and energized.

12. Teach You Things 

If you’ve ever wanted a robot to quiz you on history, trivia, or any other type of information, Alexa can do it. This list from Sporcle covers a ton of different trivia games that Alexa has to offer. This is also a handy feature when you have guests over and there’s a lull in conversation or you want a fun and engaging way to stretch your brain after  along day.

13. Talk To Your Cats 

If you’re a cat person, this one might make you smile. By enabling Alexa’s “Meow” feature, you can have the virtual assistant play cat sounds all day and have a “conversation” with your pets when you’re gone.