Saturday, July 30, 2016

How I'd change @amazonecho

I received an Amazon Echo for Father's Day because I had it on my Wishlist. Possibly because my wife received a Kindle Fire for Mother's Day? Hopefully Amazon appreciates us! :)

It is a fun toy, but I was surprised it doesn't do more. (I also keep forgetting it's called "Echo" because we just call her "Alexa.") Disclaimer: the link over there is tagged with this website's code. If you buy one, Amazon gives me a few pennies and when I have enough pennies I go to Starbucks.

So, a few things I wish it did.

The app as a two-way extension
The app is great for aiding in slightly more complex tasks (like changing Pandora stations). However, the app ought to also be able to serve as an extension. For instance, having timers or alarms also optionally alert on app.
"Alexa, set a timer for 10 minutes"
"Ok, timer set for 10 minutes"
"Alexa, alert my app when the timer goes off."

Voice Recognition
She does recognize what we say, but it would be cool if it recognized who we were. I spend a lot of time at work, so others in the house use it. It would be cool if you could have it recognize who you were and respond accordingly. Then you could say stuff like "Alexa, alert my app when the timer goes off."

Right now, Alexa is the start of things. Play a song. Tell a joke. Set the thermostat to 72. It would also be nice if Alexa could be the output of things. For instance, it has IF-THIS-THEN-THAT integration, but it's all THIS. If you ask Alexa for THIS, then THAT happens. It would be nice if worked the other way as well. If THIS, then Alexa should do THAT. There are several possibilities - she could announce, play a tone, or simple blink the light ring ala blink(1) (another toy I like playing with).

I would be nice to be able to set up triggers so that it would alert if stock prices fell/rose to certain levels, if news stories about certain terms occurred, whatever.

Multiple Amazon Accounts?
The Echo is connected to my account because it's my toy. But most of the shopping is done from my wife's account (she's the Primary Prime account). I think we can connect the Echo to multiple accounts, but never figured out how.

This is a huge one. Again, would need to be able to recognize *WHO* was saying "Send an email" as well as "Alexa, do I have any new email?" Or "Alexa, alert me if I receive an email from in the next 30 minutes."

Send to My Phone
Can I send driving directions to my phone?

Control my Computer
I would love to have a Chrome App or Windows App installed and connected so that we can issue voice commands to the laptop that sits right next to the Echo. "Alexa, skip video" - "Alexa, next tab" - "Alexa, open Gmail and compose a message" - "Alexa, go back 30 seconds" - "Alexa, mute tab" - "Alexa, close tab" - "Alexa, lock computer in 30 minutes" - "Alexa, navigate to"

More Official Skills
Like Tile and Roku for sure.

Skills Directory
This is only semi-related, but there should be a directory of all available skills on the web, not just within the app. If that exists, it's not easy to find on

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