The Amazon Echo "Alexa" voice assistant is packed with useful features. I spend a lot of time trying to lifehack my way into greater productivity with it. I found two new ones (new to me) that I want to share. I discovered them when I was working on last week's post: "Alexa Is Listening All The Time: Here's How To Stop It."
The solutions I shared in that other post drew a number of comments, both positive and negative. People are concerned, and rightly so, that we are giving up our privacy. But that started way before the Alexa voice assistant product. How we manage our privacy and voice our concerns I think is best done as customers, not as trolls, but enough about all that (you can read my 1,500+ word Medium post if you want - which I might have to update after seeing the banking caption attached to this AP photo).
While I was working on the Alexa Listening/Privacy aspects, I discovered two cool settings that I think readers will appreciate. Well, the readers who use Alexa will appreciate it. For those that commented that I should throw the unit in the closet or garbage, this post isn’t for you...
If you've ever had Alexa prattle on when responding to you when updating your calendar or adding an item to your shopping list, you will really appreciate this brief responses option. I'll confess that I think Google Home is often way better at this - it just says "added" or "done." Alexa will respond with "I have added this item A, B, C, to your calendar for tomorrow at 7pm..." and that's after it just asked me to confirm the exact same thing. So discovering that there's a setting that makes the device give crisp, short answers or just a beep to acknowledge it has heard you, well, that's simply awesome.
How do you get there?
Under settings (the three short lines in the upper left of the mobile app screen), the top menu item is Alexa Account. From there you'll see a menu item called Alexa Voice Responses. Under that setting, these two cool options are listed (Brief Responses we've already covered) and you toggle it on or off.
The second one, Whispered Responses, is straight forward. You whisper to Alexa, it whispers back. I discovered this late one night while working and not wanting to disturb the family sleeping nearby in the other room. I whispered my request to Alexa and was surprised when she whispered back. It must have been during a beta test period that I tried this, by happenstance. But now I see this option is fully live so that you can select it as a feature. For all the night owls, this is a good Alexa setting to enable.
I would love to hear your favorite ways to use the Amazon Echo "Alexa" device and how it increases your productivity on a personal or business level. Use the contact buttons after clicking on my name in the byline.