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How to listen to podcasts on your Amazon Echo

You can get more granular by searching TuneIn via the Alexa app, then choosing the exact episode you want to hear. But your only voice-powered option is to hear the latest one. If you spend a lot of time in your car or do a lot of walking, you don't have to neglect the latest literature -- Alexa can read the text of any book in your Kindle library. In fact, it'll pick up wherever you left off, which is nice if you stopped reading at bedtime and want to resume while, say, whipping up dinner in the kitchen.

Why become an Audible member?

Just say, "Alexa, read the Kindle book [Title of Book]. Now for the bad news: Although Alexa's text-to-speech reading is decent, for now it's no substitute for professional narration. Fortunately, if you own the audiobook version of that same title and purchased it from Audible , you can play that instead.

Just change the phrasing: "Alexa, read the audiobook [Title of Book]. When you ask Alexa to play some music, it defaults to Amazon's own Prime Music library. That's fine if that's your primary source of songs, but if you're a subscriber to another service, such as Spotify, iHeartRadio or Pandora, you might prefer to make that the default service. Of course, even if it's not the default, you can play from any of those services just by tacking its name on to your request.

Given everything Alexa can do right out of the box, it's easy to overlook all the capabilities you can add -- capabilities that come in the form of "skills. There are thousands of them, and you can add any one just by saying, "Alexa, enable the X skill. To solve for X, head to the Alexa app on your mobile device, tap the Menu button, and then tap Skills. You can browse the various categories or search for something you might want.

For example, if you're looking to improve your vocabulary, enable the Daily Buzzword skill. Every day, when you say, "Alexa, open Daily Buzzword," it'll give you a new word and definition from Merriam-Webster, complete with an optional quiz. Alexa has skills for just about everything you can imagine, from home automation to mindfulness meditation to crucially important cat-facts.

Keeping a paper list near your Echo can help. If you want to leverage third-party tools and services that don't yet have accompanying skills, look to IFTTT. You can create these applets yourself or use existing ones. Search the site for " Alexa " or " Echo ," and you'll find dozens of applets you can start using immediately. For example, do you like using Alexa to add items to your to-do list? If you're an iPhone owner, grab the applet that automatically pushes new to-do list items to the iOS Reminders app.

Play Alexa podcasts via TuneIn

Do you often use your Echo to set timers? There's an applet that can send a notification to your phone when a timer goes off. Those are just the tip of the iceberg. If you've ever wished that Alexa could interact with some other app or service, IFTTT can almost certainly grant that wish. Alexa devices make great nightstand companions, starting with the alarm feature: "Alexa, set an alarm for a.

Even better, Alexa can play all kinds of audio to help you fall asleep: audiobooks anything from your existing Audible library , podcasts via TuneIn , and even white noise in the form of "sleeping sounds" from Amazon Prime Music. Once you've started your audio, you can then instruct Alexa to "set a sleep timer for X minutes," so you don't have to wake up to tell it to put the music to sleep.

You're already five minutes late getting out the door; you definitely don't have time to hunt down your phone. Did you leave it in the bedroom? Did it slip beneath a couch cushion? Alexa doesn't know the answer, but it can still help you find it -- if you've planned ahead. Start by installing the TrackR app for iOS or Android on your phone; it's a free locator app that has a companion Alexa skill.

Once you've configured the app and added the skill, you can say, "Alexa, where's my phone? Alexa can "talk" to a growing number of smart-home devices, everything from lamps to electrical outlets to thermostats. Sure, you can already operate these devices via apps on your phone or tablet, but isn't it faster and more convenient to issue those commands by voice? Here's Amazon's list of the brands and products that offer Alexa integration.

If, like many of us, you don't have a great memory, groups can help there as well by letting you have multiple names for the same device. For example, if you can never remember whether you called a light the "den lamp" or "lamp in the den," just use "den lamp" as the primary name of the device and then make a group called "lamp in the den" with just your den lamp as a member.

Either phrase will let you control the lamp. Thanks to Computerworld's Sharon Machlis for this tip. Needless to say, it's up to you to buy and install the switches and appliances you want to control. Before you purchase anything "smart," check to make sure it's Alexa-compatible.


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Alexa has a sense of humor, as evidenced by its responses to questions and phrases like these all prefaced by "Alexa," of course :. It's pretty adept at pop-culture references, too, so see how it responds to phrases like, "These aren't the Droids you're looking for," or "Winter is coming. For more than 20 years, Rick Broida has written about all manner of technology, from Amigas to business servers to PalmPilots.

When we converse with our personal assistants, we bring them closer to our own level. Gifted with the once uniquely human power of speech, Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri have already become greater than the sum of their parts. Their speech makes us treat them as if they had a mind. These secretarial companions may be faux-conscious nonpersons, but their words give them personality and social presence. And indeed, these devices no longer serve solely as intermediaries, portals to e-commerce or nytimes.

We communicate with them, not through them. The Assistant pulls out of his memory bank one of the many responses to this statement that have been programmed into him. For the moment, these machines remain at the dawn of their potential, as likely to botch your request as they are to fulfill it.

But as smart-speaker sales soar, computing power is also expanding exponentially.

Within our lifetimes, these devices will likely become much more adroit conversationalists. By the time they do, they will have fully insinuated themselves into our lives. And with their eerie ability to elicit confessions, they could acquire a remarkable power over our emotional lives.

Download e-book Choose - Echos Voice: Episode I

What will that be like? The point of the Dash Wand was obvious: It made buying products from Amazon easier. The point of the Echo was less obvious. Why would consumers buy a device that gave them the weather and traffic conditions, functioned as an egg timer, and performed other tasks that any garden-variety smartphone could manage? But once Reid had set up an Echo in her kitchen, she got it. Her daughters, 10 and 7 at the time, instantly started chattering away at Alexa, as if conversing with a plastic cylinder was the most natural thing in the world.

You may be skeptical of a conversion narrative offered up by a top Amazon executive.

How to listen to podcasts on your Amazon Echo

Followed by irrelevance. Followed by excruciating, painful decline. The basic appeal of the Echo, she said, is that it frees your hands. Echo owners can wander around living rooms, kitchens, and offices doing this or that while requesting random bits of information or ordering toilet paper or an Instant Pot, no clicks required.

No need to walk over to the desktop and type a search term into a browser; no need to track down your iPhone and punch in your passcode. Frictionlessness is the goal, anyway. For the moment, considerable friction remains. It really is remarkable how often smart speakers—even Google Home, which often outperforms the Echo in tests conducted by tech websites—flub their lines.

She had to fight the urge to whip out her smartphone to answer some tantalizing question, such as: Which came first, the fork, the spoon, or the knife?