Passionate about accessibility, Jo Nicholson spends a lot of time home alone when her husband works away. Here, the Voice User Interface Designer tells us how Alexa helps around the house.
“I’m terrible in the morning! I struggle to wake up, so I have a routine that stops me falling asleep again after my alarm goes off. When I dismiss my alarm, it automatically starts a morning routine which plays the weather, an update on my commute and the news. That way, I don’t just drift off back to sleep. Once I’ve got going and am nearly ready to leave the house I check a skill called NextThere. It tells me what time my next bus is. They vary a bit with traffic, so it’s useful to know when to leave the house.”
“Alexa, how do I set up a routine?”
"Alexa, open NextThere"
Follow these steps to set up Jo's routine:
1.Go to the Alexa app and select More on the bottom right of the screen.
2. Select Routines.
3. To create a new routine, select the + sign.
4. Next to Enter routine name, tap + and give your routine a name, such as Morning. Then select Next.
5. Next to When this happens select the + sign. Select Alarms, followed by Next.
6. The routine is set to play Any time you dismiss an alarm. You can leave this as the default or tap Change to set specific days and/or times when the routine will be active.
7. Now to Add actions:
i.) Next to Add action, tap the + sign.
ii). Select Weather, followed by Next.
iii.) Next to Add action, tap the + sign.
iv.) Select Traffic, followed by Next.
v.) Next to Add action, tap the + sign.
vi.) Select News, followed by Next.
10. Under the From heading, select Choose Device to pick which device plays the routine. Alternatively, select The device you speak to, to have the routine played through the same device as you dismissed the alarm.
11. Tap Save in the top right corner.
Please note: you can add your address for your weather location, the destination for your traffic report and your preferred news source. Here's how to get set up in the Alexa app:
Weather: go to More > Settings > Device Settings > select your device > Device Location > add your address.
Traffic: go to More > Settings > Traffic > add your home and destination address.
News: go to More > Settings > Flash Briefing > Tap the + sign to add content > Select your preferred news source.
“I really like a skill called Ambient Visuals. I have my Echo Show on my desk and turn it into an underwater scene, a view of the beachfront, a fireplace or even a flight simulator to remind me what it feels like to travel. Another one I show friends is Coffee Shop Sounds. Particularly now we’re working from home, you can have office noise as the background noise, thunderstorms or whale sounds.”
"Alexa, open Underwater World"
"Alexa, open Coffee Shop Sounds"
"Alexa, open Beachfront"
"Alexa, open Flight Simulator"
"Alexa, open Nature Sounds"
“A recent favourite is Audible. When I get home to a quiet house after work, I play my audiobook and move from room to room. Instead of having the TV on, I listen to an audiobook on my kitchen Echo while I cook and wash up and then resume it on my bedroom Echo while I put away the washing. It makes my evenings much more productive.”
“Alexa, read my audiobook”
“We’ve starting using our Echo Show devices to drop in on the house while we’re away. Through the Alexa app we can see our apartment just to make sure everything’s okay – a pipe hasn’t burst or we haven’t had a break in. I have a friend who uses it to drop in on her cats while she’s out. It’s great for peace of mind."
“Alexa, drop in on lounge Echo"
Like a modern-day intercom, this feature allows you to drop in on supported Alexa-enabled devices. When you receive a drop in, the light indicator on your Echo pulses green and you connect to your contact automatically.
Remember: before you can get started, you will need to opt-in to use Drop In. To set up, follow the steps below:
1. In the Alexa app, select the Devices icon located at the bottom right of the screen.
2. Select Echo & Alexa and then select the device you’d like to enable.
3. Select Communication.
4. Select Drop In and then select which permissions to enable.
“I’m particularly passionate about accessibility, so I love what Alexa offers for those with low vision. My Dad is losing his sight, so I got him an Echo device. He loves that he can easily access the news, weather and podcasts using his voice.”
"Alexa, play ABC News"
Please Note: Wifi required. Certain services are subject to change or withdrawal at anytime, may not be available in all areas, and may require separate subscriptions