Since we live in a time that is full of technological companions (e.g. Alexa, Siri, Google Home, etc.) and many of us might be finding ourselves with little more than their company these days, I think it’s about time we start utilizing them to their full potential.
This past weekend, as my sister and I were sitting on the couch eating donuts we ordered from our local shop, we decided to talk to Alexa. After buying our Amazon Echo about three years ago, I started getting weekly emails from Amazon that provide a list of fun prompts that you can give Alexa, but I’ve more or less ignored them—until now.
Note: if you have a Google Home, check out both this article and this one for prompts. If you have Siri, check out both this article and this one, and if you have neither, I’d recommend Facetime, Zoom, or, if all else fails, this:
No judgment, times are weird.
Anyway, here are some of our favorite things you can do with Alexa:
Say: “Alexa, play Jeopardy.”
Each day you are given 12 trivia questions that you have to answer Jeopardy style (what is, where is, who is, etc.) Weekdays you are given extra questions from the same categories showcased in that day’s televised episode, and then Saturdays are College Jeopardy and Sundays (my favorite!) are Sports Jeopardy.
Play Puzzle of the Day
Say: “Alexa, open Puzzle of the day.”
This is a crossword puzzle that you play in the style of a word game since you don’t have a paper in front of you. Alexa gives you a clue and the number of letters in the answer, and then you try to guess it. If you have trouble, you are able to ask for a letter, but you lose points by doing so—which may not matter to you, or may matter more than anything. I land somewhere in the middle.
Make Fart Noises
Say: “Alexa, make a fart noise.”
I will just leave this one here.
Look up the Spelling and/or Definition of a word
Say: “Alexa, spell ______” or “Alexa, what is the definition of _______”
Sure, I could Google it, but she does it faster, and asking almost makes me feel like I’m back in high school with no responsibilities or pandemics to speak of.
Set a Reminder
Say: “Alexa, remind me to______.”
If you’re working from home, it might be hard to find a good routine, which makes it easy to forget to do things like drink enough water, or take necessary medications, or stop looking at Instagram. That’s where Alexa can come in as an accountability partner. Set reminders, as many as you want, about anything you want. Maybe it’s to put on pants, maybe it’s to refill your water bottle, maybe it’s to go outside, maybe it’s to move to a different section of the couch so you can blob evenly. Whatever you need, she’s there to remind you.
Use Announce and/or Simon Says
Both of these functions make Alexa repeat something that is being said.
If you say, “Alexa, announce it is time for lunch,” she will play back a recording of you saying, “it’s time for lunch.”
But if you say, “Alexa, simon says it’s time for lunch,” Alexa will say, “it’s time for lunch.”
So it’s really your preference on that one. If you’ve ever wanted to actually hear yourself talk to yourself, now is your chance. Or if you’re someone who lives alone and needs a voice other than your own to whip you into shape, Alexa can do that for you. Again, no judgment.
Learn Something Weird
Say, “Alexa, tell me something weird.”
Then strap in.
Hear a 20-second song
Say, “Alexa, sing a song for twenty seconds.”
It has been a widely spread recommendation to (constantly) wash your hands for (at least) twenty seconds. In an effort to make that easier, people have been on the hunt for songs and choruses of songs that are approximately that long so we can get a better idea of the timing. But please look no further than your Alexa, who will sing you a song that (at least when I’ve asked) rhymes and lasts exactly 20 seconds. Also, good luck not having that song stuck in your head.