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How to Make the Amazon Echo Smarter Out of the Box

Amazon’s smart speaker, Echo, is a fun and useful device for your home that acts like a digital assistant you have on your phone, like Siri or Cortana. But it does a lot more than that. It can be a hub for home automation and control your Nest thermostat, Philips Hue lights, play music via Bluetooth, and more.

The more you use your Amazon Echo, over time, it will get smarter as it collects and analyzes your voice data. However, if you get a brand new one, and want to make it smarter out of the box, here’s some things you can do.

Note that you will need the Amazon Echo app installed on an iOS or Android phone or tablet, or Amazon’s Fire tablet or phone.

Make Amazon Echo Smarter

Use Voice Training. The first thing you can do is train Alexa, the name of the Echo’s virtual assistant, to understand your voice better. Launch your Amazon Echo app on your device, and select Voice Training. The go through the steps and read each of the 25 phrases out loud.

This allows Alexa to get a better sense of your voice cadence and pronunciation. And, you can go through this process as many times as you like.

Amazon Echo Voice Training

Set your Location. For the most personalized information that pertains to your local area, it’s best to make sure Alexa knows where you are located. This is an obvious one, but the Echo doesn’t come with your location set by default.

To set your location, open the Echo app and go to Settings > Your Echo’s Name > Echo Device Location.

Set Echo Location

Provide Feedback. Every time you say a command or ask your Echo something, a card appears in the Echo app. These cards provide more detailed information about what you asked Alexa, but you can also use them to let Amazon know if Alexa heard your query correctly or not.

Like in the example below, Alexa can’t make it out when I ask about groovyPost. So I select “No” where it asks if Alexa heard me correctly or not.

Echo App Card

Over time the Echo will get smarter the more you use it and the more Amazon adds new features and capabilities.

Do you have an Amazon Echo? Let us know what you think about it and how you use it in the comments below.

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6 Responses to How to Make the Amazon Echo Smarter Out of the Box

  1. Randy June 3, 2015 at 8:44 am #

    Among digital assistants, Echo is my first pick. Alexa sometimes hears better than myself. I’ve not used Siri but have used all the others. She seems to be adding features every other week. My favorite is voice commanding a shopping list. I have mine in the kitchen and between that feature and the timer, it is a hands-free gem for cooking. Obviously music, weather reports are also often used but they just aren’t as ‘productively’ useful. A recently added new feature that will be productive is integrating with Google Calendar. Only downside that I can list is she isn’t on a phone but maybe like Cortana she will migrate to other platforms someday.

    • Brian Burgess June 3, 2015 at 3:58 pm #

      Yeah, I have been happy with mine. I do wish it handled Podcasts better though, I sent Amazon feedback about it, so we shall see.

      I will be writing up an article about integrating Google Calendar soon, unfortunately, I actually use the calendar on Outlook.com…so I too am hoping for better Microsoft service integration.

  2. Robyn June 3, 2015 at 8:35 pm #

    I’ve used mine quite a bit in the few months I’ve had it and love it. My favorite things are the music choices, requesting from Prime Music, Pandora and iHeart radio and now the ITTT recipes they have. I use the one where it sends the things I add to my shopping list to a notebook on my evernote that is on my phone so when I pop in to the grocery store, I have that stuff at my fingertips. I’m also an amazon addict, so I like being able to request things I regularly order from there without having to remember for the next time I’m at my computer.

    I’ve put in a request for something like a batch of instructions in one. For instance, in the mornings when I come downstairs, I ask for the time, then the weather, then either music or the flash briefing. three different commands. I’d like to be able to say one thing and have all of those things happen for me. but they’re forever adding things, so hopefully that will come.

  3. Charles June 7, 2015 at 3:27 pm #

    I have used Echo for almost 6 months … keeps getting better with monthly enhancements and new features. Comparable voice recognition accuracy with Google and Sri.

    They just added the option to listen to my complex Audible library with Echo — works Great!!!

  4. Howard Sterling October 17, 2015 at 12:23 pm #

    I have a foreign speaking grandmother living with me. Could I train Alexa to recognize a few simple commands in Hungarian, to call me, to call a cab?

  5. Chris April 10, 2016 at 3:16 am #

    Echo is selling all over the world.
    By being a bit devious we can download the app from the Istore even if not available in our country.
    Echo works fine but OH, why not allow us to set a non US time zone?
    Don’t care if local info is not available but at least we can use the calendar without problems.
    Using it in South Africa and happy.

    Any idea about future international support?

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