I first came across Amazon Echo a couple of years ago and thought. I will give this a couple of years to see how it develops. I am glad I did.
Although it still needs developing, it really can’t do this unless it now has input from users. And don’t think like I did initially, they are not worth it purchasing unless you have a number of household appliances connected to the Internet to make good use of Alexa. Having Alexa control your lighting or heating, can be added at a later point.
It took less than ten minutes to it set up. I downloaded the Amazon Alexa app first though on to my tablet, before switching the cylinder on, it needs to stand at least 20 cm away from a wall. It will annouce when it is ready to use. Then you connect it to the Wifi through the app.
You select the services you want Alexa to use through the app, if you have subscriptions to Amazon Music and Audible already, all you need to do is sign in to your accounts. I’ve not used ‘Music’ much in the past, but it has allowed me to import music in from iTunes. At the moment you can store up 250 tracks on the music cloud. If you want to store more you need to start paying for more storage.
As it is voice activation, I have been really impressed by the way Alexa has interpreted my accent. In the packaging look for a card with guidance on how ask Alexa questions, and there are some on the app as well. I have a short video below demonstrating below how well Alex understands and talks back .
Ok so the obvious drawback for me is the amount of services that requires a monthly or yearly subscription if you would like to use them. But at the moment finding out local information and weather anywhere in the world is free. It’s also been really good to link Alexa up with my Google Calendar. Call me lazy, but sometimes it can be a pain getting my device out of the bottom of a bag after a long day at work, just to remind my self of what’s happening tomorrow. Asking Alexa is just far easier.
Having this device isn’t just about keeping up to date with the latest gimmick, at a price of around £150, I do really think it can offer some useful services to people who are partially sighted or blind. There is also an easy way to feedback to Amazon through the app. If Alexa doesn’t seem to understand you, or an action is not carried out. For example at the time Alexa didn’t seem to be able to recognize my home town name, which I reported it took 48 hrs for customer services to e-mail me a response, which I thought was reasonable.
Some of you might feel strange addressing an electronic device, but really there is no need to be that self conscious. We all leave voicemail messages if a call you are making is not answered (well I do). And it feels as natural, as if I were chatting with my husband or telling the dogs off.