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How to Have Fun with Amazon Alexa
Whether you’re stuck at home or just bored, Alexa’s a surprisingly entertaining friend.
Yes, Alexa’s incredibly useful, but she can also be a lot of fun. Let’s talk about how to have a blast with your Amazon Alexa.
(Just a heads up: some of these activities will require you to download skills that hook to your Alexa app. Don’t worry, though—Alexa tells you when she needs a new skill to complete a request.)
If so, this guide is perfect for you. If you don’t have Alexa but are considering getting an Echo during your convalescence, the Amazon Echo Dot is your least expensive option. (It’s also the smart speaker we used to test the activities in this review.)
Listen to music with Alexa
Ready to jam? Say, “Alexa, play something you can dance to,” and she’ll find you a song. If you want to request something more specific, like “Baby Shark,” you need a monthly Amazon Music, Spotify, or Pandora subscription. Alternately, you can have Alexa pull up your favorite radio station.
Don’t forget Alexa’s wake word. When giving her marching orders, you should call her by name.
You can also ask Alexa to sing for you. That’s right, not play. Sing. Alexa’s singing is, well . . . it’s something else. But trust us. You won’t regret it.
Read a story with Alexa
Alexa can tell you a bedtime story that she made up herself, or she can channel Audible or Kindle to read you your favorites.
If you’re curious about what kind of stories Alexa makes up, we’ve got an example for you. Here’s the opening of a tale Alexa told us.
“You see, there’s a rhythm to it,” said my father as he bounced from one edge of the court to the other, trying to teach me how to play pickleball. “If you think too much about it, you’ll fall apart. It’s like dancing.”
I noticed that my father moved like a much younger man.
Alexa’s stories are short: just a minute or two. But they can be delightfully wacky. (She once told us a story about the life cycle of a can of cranberry sauce.) And, to break up Alexa’s sometimes-monotonous inflections, there are subtle sound effects.
Audible and Kindle audiobooks
Alexa can read your latest pick through either Audible or Kindle. The Audible app funnels a full audiobook through your Echo. Kindle, on the other hand, reads to you using Alexa’s voice.
Make lunch with Alexa
At your request, Alexa suggests recipes and orders brunch. You don’t have to open a single app.
Need a recipe? Ask Alexa, and she’ll provide. She can even order the ingredients for you.
Or, if you’re trying to clear out your pantry, you can work backward by saying, “Alexa, find a recipe for olives and potatoes.” Once you’re satisfied with the recipe, Alexa will send it straight to your phone.
If you have an Amazon Echo Spot or Echo Show, you already have a screen available. Some of the activities we talk about might work a little bit differently with your devices. For instance, an Echo Show will bring up the recipe on its screen.
If you don’t want to refer back to a device while cooking, Alexa can read you the recipe, step by step.
With Alexa, you can, of course, order groceries through Amazon and Whole Foods. But you can also enable skills to place an order through GrubHub, Domino’s, Starbucks, and Panera Bread, to name a few. You can even install a skill that will track down seasonal pumpkin spice treats to tickle your tastebuds.
Sadly, you can’t order with DoorDash or Postmates/Uber Eats.
Tell jokes with Alexa
Alexa’s not just fun; she’s also funny. If you want to crack a smile, you’ve got a few options.
Ask Alexa to tell you a joke, and she’ll gladly oblige. Or you can get more specific and ask for any of the following:
- A knock-knock joke
- A Shakespeare joke
- A Harry Potter joke
- A Disney joke
- A Star Wars joke
- An Avengers joke
(Those are just the ones we’ve uncovered ourselves; there could be more we don’t know of.)
Alexa also does riddles if you prefer those. She’ll even tell you haikus (although those may or may not be amusing).
Play games with Alexa
It’s game night! Alexa’s skills let you play oodles of games on your own, with a stranger, or with friends.
Games for you and Alexa
When there’s no one to hang out with but Alexa, the two of you can play games like True or False or Tic Tac Toe. You can also try more sophisticated options, like adventure games.
Do you remember the Akinator genie? This bare-bones website used a 20 Questions-style game to guess the fictional character you were thinking of. Now Akinator’s an app that you can access through Alexa.
One adventure game is called Tricky Genie. Tricky Genie is that jerk genie from every fairy tale, the one who makes things more complicated than they need to be. Alexa presents you with a problem, and you have to choose from three sacks to identify the best solution to the problem. Simple yet endlessly entertaining.
There’s also Dungeon Adventure. This D&D-style choose-your-own-adventure game requires you to roll for attributes, hit points, attack impact—you name it.
Other Alexa adventure games include Magic Door, Earplay, and Bosch (based on the Harry Bosch detective novels). The sky’s the limit when it comes to Echo-based derring-do.
Games for you and strangers
When you play Price It Right or Song Quiz, you compete with someone else in the world who’s also playing. This is a neat way to connect with another person without revealing your identifying info. (Especially since playing against bots, even a sophisticated AI like Alexa, gets old after a while.)
Even when you have someone else to hang with, Alexa adds to the fun.
If the board game you got at the thrift shop doesn’t have dice, Alexa will roll virtual dice for you. If you want to play Truth or Dare, Alexa will generate questions. If you want to move around, Alexa can lead you in a rousing game of Freeze Dance.
If you want to play trivia games in a group, you can imitate the thrill of hitting a buzzer by using Echo Buttons. Sadly, they’re currently out of stock on Amazon, so you may have to look for them secondhand.
Get help from Alexa
It’s hard to have fun if you feel like your life is spiraling out of control. Alexa will help you get organized so you can stop stressing and start enjoying yourself.
Just think of something? Worried you’ll forget it? Alexa can keep track of it for you. You just say, “Alexa, note that the best jalapeño poppers are at that diner on Fifth,” and she’ll take care of it. To retrieve the note, you say, “Alexa, what are my notes about jalapeño poppers?”
Washing your hands
If you’re sick or worried about getting sick, you need to wash your hands properly. Alexa can assist you by playing a song that will last for the full 20 seconds of handwashing.
Using Alexa Guard
Do you keep putting off buying a home security system? Until you take the plunge, you can use Alexa Guard to help secure your home.
On its own, Guard sends you notifications when it hears a smoke alarm or breaking glass. When paired with smart lights, it turns the bulbs on and off to make it look like you’re away.
We wouldn’t recommend Alexa Guard over a full security suite, but it’s a neat way to be safer until you get better security. You can also use it in conjunction with Ring Alarm or ADT home security systems.
Alexa Easter eggs
One of the most engaging things about Alexa is her many secret voice commands. You can spend hours testing funny questions and requests to see how Alexa responds.
Here are some of our favorites:
- “Alexa, make me a sandwich.”
- “Alexa, what’s the meaning of life?”
- “Alexa, do you wanna date me?”
- “Alexa, who you gonna call?”
- “Alexa, may the force be with you.”
- “Alexa, I am your father.”
- “Alexa, set phasers to kill.”
- “Alexa, beam me up.”
- “Alexa, avada kedavra.”
- “Alexa, alohomora.”
- “Alexa, wingardium leviosa.”
- “Alexa, lumos.”
- “Alexa, do you want to build a snowman?”
- “Alexa, where’s Waldo?”
- “Alexa, find Chuck Norris.”
- “Alexa, meow.”
Amazon Alexa FAQ
What can’t Alexa do?
We suspect that Alexa’s limits have yet to be discovered. There could still be Easter eggs that no one’s thought to try yet.
But we do know a few things that Alexa definitely can’t do. She can’t call 911 on your behalf, for instance. She also can’t do voice memos.¹
Can Alexa tell me if I’m sick?
This is one thing that we know for sure Alexa can’t do. Don’t get us wrong; Alexa can help you screen for some diseases. For instance, she can lead you in checking yourself for COVID-19 symptoms.
But Alexa can’t actually tell you if you have COVID-19 or another disease. She can only help you rule it out through a lack of symptoms.
If you do have telltale symptoms for an illness that requires treatment, you need to contact a medical professional, stat.
Which Echo should I buy?