This Christmas I got my mom an Amazon Echo Dot. And like a good son that I am, I wanted her to have the power of the internet at her disposal. Yes, she has a mobile phone, but she clearly isn’t listening to me when I attempted to teach her how to use it past texting, WhatsApp, calling, Candy Crush and Facebook. No. Matter. How. Hard. I. Tried.
I think the pushback came from having to learn how to do more when she was only mildly-interested. The Echo Dot was perfect in that there wasn’t much investment other than asking a robot how to do it/for the information. Still, my mom was averse to changing up how she does things.
To my surprise, she took to the Amazon Echo Dot. She was clearly amazed by the technology,, but because of her broken English, Alexa doesn’t always understand her. Even so, my mom still uses it only for a limited amount of commands. These are the top two commands that my mom asks her Echo Dot:
- Alexa, what’s the weather today?
- Alexa, what time is it?
It’s a start, especially for someone that is generally resistant to change. I’m pretty happy that she’s getting some use out of it out the box but I’d like her to use it more to make things easier when issues present themselves. In particular, I think my mom can easily add these useful questions to her day:
- Alexa, what is the date?
- Alexa, what is today?
- Alexa, set alarm for 12:30 (or another time)
- Alexa, what is 50 x 12 (or another difficult math problem)
- Alexa, set timer for 20 minutes
- Alexa, set timer for 5:30 PM
- Alexa, how do you spell responsible? (my mom struggles with this word)
- Alexa, how many calories are in Doritos?
- Alexa, what is the phone number of Pizza Hut (favorite restaurant)
- Alexa, where is the closest Pizza Hut? (favorite restaurant)
- Alexa, what is the closest pizza restaurant? (if Pizza Hut is too far)
- Alexa, when is Chinese New Year?
- Alexa, when do the Golden State Warriors play next?
There are obviously many other uses that mothers can utilize a smart home assistant to make their lives easier other than asking about the weather and what time it is. So I was determined to find more. Here are several commands I picked up from helping my mom and some I found from researching the internet. I’ve bolded the core command phrases.
- Alexa, what is snapchat?
- Alexa, who is bae? (this might not work)
- Alexa, is it going to rain tomorrow?
- Alexa, add (item) to shopping list
- Alexa, add (task) to to-do list
- Alexa, what time is it in (city/state/country)?
- Alexa, ask Lyft for a ride
- Alexa, how do you say ‘hello’ in Spanish
- Alexa, play Fleetwood Mac (or another mom band).
- Alexa, play Rhiannon by Fleetwood Mac (or a specific song by specific artist).
- Alexa, play soundtrack from West Side Story (my mom watched that movie growing up)
- Alexa, play upbeat music
- Alexa, play music for the morning
- Alexa, play reggae music
- Alexa, what’s playing? (to ask what the song title is)
- Alexa, volume up
- Alexa, volume down
- Alexa, turn volume down 50%
- Alexa, pause
- Alexa, stop
- Alexa, continue
- Alexa, next song
- Alexa, what ingredients are in a martini?
- Alexa, Wikipedia Vietnam War (or another topic/subject)
- Alexa, tell me more (to have her continue with more info)
- Alexa, define algorithm (she’s not tech-savvy, right?)
- Alexa, what is the capital of Michigan?
- Alexa, what is the population of Mumbai? (this is based on internet info Alexa can find, so sometimes it’s outdated)
- Alexa, what’s in the news today? (for a quick news brief)
- Alexa, play NPR? (for more news)
- Alexa, where is the nearest casino to me? (actually you could have real experience, even a live dealer in the comfort of your own home, here you can find out more about the live casino)
- Alexa, ask airport security for the wait time at SFO
- Alexa, listen to a podcast about (topic)
- Alexa, what are the showtimes for Dr. Strange?
- Alexa, how many pints in a quart?
- Alexa, how many kilometers are there in a mile?
- Alexa, heads or tails?
- Alexa, roll dice
You know what the creepy/CUTEST thing about your mom having an Echo Dot when you share an Amazon account? The Amazon Alexa app records all the questions so you can hear your mom trying to engage with Alexa. Yes, it’s weird, but also really heartwarming (YES, I am going to create her own Amazon account when I go home next!).
In any case, I’ll continue adding more useful mom phrases to this list as I come up with them. If you have any suggestions for Alexa commands, please drop them in the comments. Stay tuned.