10 Things To Do First – Part 2

Welcome back for Part 2 of 10 Things to do First

(updated April 2018)


6. Alexa Remote Control

When the 1st generation Amazon Echo launched back in late 2014, the Echo came bundled with the Alexa Remote Control. It is no longer included with the device. It is still available as an accessory  however.

Why is this important you might be asking? Well, as we experienced in our own family, some folks have naturally soft speaking voices, or due to illness or a medical condition do not speak very loudly. For them, the voice remote is a not just a “nice to have”, but perhaps a necessity.

The remote is very useful to use when you are across the room from the Echo device, or in another room from where the Echo or Dot is placed. As long as there is line of site or the remote is in range, it works quite well. The Alexa Voice Remote really does comes in quite handy as a secondary device or extension!

How it works: The Voice Remote connects via Bluetooth, with an integrated microphone at the push of a button. You press and hold the microphone button while speaking, and your Echo device hears you!

Here is how to set it up within the Alexa App:

Step 1. Log in
Step 2. Go to Settings
Step 3. Under Devices locate and tap/click on your device name
Step 4: Under Connected Devices, click/tap on Pair device remote
Step 5, Alexa will then begin to search for the remote and offer instruction to connect via bluetooth.

Can you hear me now?

7. Voice Profiles

Alexa wants to learn you voice. The more you interact with her, the better she recognizes its you and can personalize your experience. Voice profiles give you and each user in your home the ability to teach Alexa your voice.

Automatically Recognized Voices setting

First, let’s talk about Alexa’s ability to automatically learn to recognize your voice. This is important, I believe, for elder parents or loved ones who might be technically challenged or for those without a smart phone to access the Alexa app. It certainly makes things easier! Automatic Voice recognition makes it easier to set up your Voice Profile. To check if Automatic Voice Recognition is already on, just say “Alexa, Learn my voice”.  Then listen for Alexa’s instructions. If Alexa recognizes your voice, you can confirm your name and your voice profile is already set up!

For those who might like to turn off Automatic Voice Recognition, here are the steps. (I recommend leaving it on)

Step 1. Log into the Alexa app on your mobile device
Step 2. Go to Settings
Step 3. Scroll down and tap “Recognized Voices
Step 4. Toggle On or Off, as desired.

Ok, Now let’s take a look at the scenario where Alexa does not know your voice and “Automatic Voice Recognition” is toggled off. We’ll start with creating a Voice Profile from within the Alexa app* – (*Important Note: Voice Profiles is only accessible via the Alexa App on your mobile phone. You will not see these listed if visiting alexa.amazon.com in your desktop web browser).

Step 1. Log into the Alexa app on your mobile device
Step 2. Go to Settings
Step 3. Scroll down and tap “Recognized Voices
Step 4. Tap “Your Voice
Step 5: Alexa will offer some instruction to get you ready.. (ie. mute other devices nearby, etc)
Step 6. When ready, Ask, “Alexa, learn my voice”.
Step 7. Follow Alexa’s instructions as Alexa will ask you to repeat several phrases.

It’s great that Alexa can personalize your experience just from the sound of your voice. Shortens the learning curve  too!

8. View and /or Erase History

With emerging technology, especially in todays world and with smart speaker being adopted at a blazing pace, there is increasing scrutiny on the security of these speakers and how much they listen and record. Smart speakers are always on, specifically listening for their wake word. But, of course, can be triggered inadvertently. Fortunately, we have a way to view what we’ve transmitted, what Alexa has recorded and erase our history if we so desire.

Clear out your Alexa History

Let’s begin with a reminder. Alexa learns your voice to better serve you and personalize your experience. The more you speak with Alexa, the better the experience. Deleting your history will erase Alex’s memory of you, and she will need to begin again.

There are two ways to clear your Alexa History.

1. Within the Alexa App.
– Step 1. Log into the Alexa app
– Step 2. Go to Settings
– Step 3. Scroll down to the “Alexa Account” section
– Step 4: Tap “History
– Step 5. Select a Recording
– Step 6. Select Delete Voice Recording
– You will need to delete one recording at a time.

2. Erase all recordings all at once?
Visit amazon.com and go to the Amazon’s Content and Devices Page listed under your account. Click on “Your Devices”. Highlight your Echo and select “Manage voice recordings” from the dropdown under the device name. Click Delete or Cancel.

Again, we recommend you manage your voice history accordingly. While there is increasing awareness and scrutiny (a good thing!), it is also very positive how Alexa can learn you voice to offer better performance and experience. Alexa, know my voice!

9. Follow Up Mode

I’m loving “Follow Up Mode”. Thank you Amazon. I love it for one specific reason which I’ll explain in a bit, but in general this relatively new feature brings Amazon’s AI voice assistant a little closer to conversations.

Follow Up mode allows you to make more requests without having to repeat the “Alexa” wake word. When Follow Up is enabled, Alexa keeps listening, (you can tell by the blue ring on your device stays lit for approximately 5 seconds) after she responds to your initial request.

In essence, You could Ask “Alexa, turn on the light”, and after Alexa fulfills this response, say “Lock the door” or “play my Oldies playlist”.

I think that’s fantastic. Here’s why I love it also. I work with many older adults and, well, they are naturally polite! I find they automatically say please and when Alexa completes their request, they quite naturally say “Thank you”. Now with Follow Up mode enabled, Alexa is still listening, hears the “thank you” as a follow up request, and replies with “You’re welcome” or “You bet!”

A small thing, but one of those micro-moments of impact. Ok, I admit it… it makes me smile!

How to enable Follow Up Mode:

Step 1. Log into your Alexa app (then swipe for main menu)
Step 2. Go to Settings
Step 3. Under Devices locate and tap/click on the device name you’d like to enable Follow on
Step 4. Scroll down, under the General section, tap on Follow-up Mode
Step 5. Toggle Follow Up mode on or off, as desired

It’s marvelous!

10. Hands-Free Moments

As Alexa learns your voice, Alexa becomes more responsive, more personalized and increasingly useful.  But, boy, there are so many different features and configurations to learn! Do I really need to know them all? … No, not initially, at least.

For older adults, family members and caregivers, Alexa is becoming, more and more, an important part of the family and home. Where do you begin with all there is to learn… about the different features, how to speak the correct voice commands, or how to ask Alexa to repeat her response (as sometimes she talks too fast for me!)

My suggestion is to take a moment. Take a moment to look at your individual scenario and define what’s important to you? When are those hands-free moments, and what tasks, where just using your voice would help.

– You enter the house with your arms full of groceries,… you say “Alexa, turn on the light”
– You love to read, but your eyesight is a bit diminished… Alexa, read me my new kindle book”
– You love to cook for the family… “Alexa, set a timer for 45 minutes”
– You chat with you daughter or son every Sunday… “Alexa, call…”

Are you new to using Alexa, or an older adult, or perhaps an adult caring for a loved one. Develop an Alexa Plan for you or your household, and learn (or teach) the corresponding voice commands. It’ll make a world of difference – you don’t need to know all Alexa does, just what might be important for you!

You can re-visit part one here

What’s Important to You?

Alexa does many things, and her capabilities are growing every day. Do you need to know it all? No, of course not. Spend time learning the features and associated voice commands that make sense for you, your family, and your home environment. After all, Alexa is about making life better.

Today, Tell Someone They Matter