Amazon certainly hasn’t forgot about Echo. They have been updating the Echo software with new features several times a month, keeping Echo fresh and smart.
Amazon Echo is quickly becoming the company’s most successful tech product. Industry experts predict that it will be Amazon’s next billion-dollar business. Amazon clearly isn’t afraid of committing a big budget to the project – they booked their first Super Bowl ad ever, with the Echo front and center alongside Alec Baldwin.
As customers become more aware of Echo, Amazon is also updating the software with new features. We tried out some of the newest features in a few test videos below.
New Amazon Echo Features
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Jam out to Spotify
This is awesome news just announced today for Spotify users. Instead of being limited to Pandora, iHeartRadio, TuneIn Radio, and Prime Music for playlists, you can listen to your Spotify account. By simply opening the Amazon Echo app and typing in your Spotify username and password, your account will be integrated.
Echo is still figuring out Spotify stations, which suggest similar music (like Pandora). Unfortunately it’s $10 a month for a Premium account, and Premium is the only account that works with Echo. But there is a free 30-day trial, and Spotify is widely accepted as the best music app out there, with 30 million tracks to Amazon’s 1 million. It’s very easy to use both the web and app versions, so this is definitely something to try for a month if you’re an Amazon Echo user wanting to get the most you can out of your device.
Commands to try:
- Alexa, play Spotify
- Alexa, play Adele
- Alexa, play electronic music
- Alexa, play relaxing music
Check movie showtimes on-the-go
This is one of those countless cases where Alexa makes your life just a little bit easier. Sure, you could pull out your phone and Google “movies near me.” But the whole point of Alexa is you can get this information hands-free, immediately and easily.
If you’re like us, you usually check movie showtimes last minute to see if any good movies are playing. This is an extremely useful feature for getting the information you need easier and faster than ever before.
Commands to try:
- Alexa, what movies are playing nearby?
- Alexa, what time is The Revenant playing?
- Alexa, tell me more about Star Wars the Force Awakens.
- Alexa, is Kung Fu Panda 3 playing in San Diego?
We tried out this feature first-hand and it definitely worked. Of course, we had to repeat a few things since Echo is still improving, but overall it worked really well, and way better than most virtual assistants.
Order Domino’s pizza. Yes, really.
No more awkward phone calls with the pizza guy. The day is officially here where you can tell your robot assistant your pizza order. It’s an exciting time to be alive.
You’ll need to have a Domino’s Pizza Profile with your payment, contact info, and favorite pizza for quick orders. With this profile, you can also order via Twitter, your smart phone, Samsung Smart TV, and smart watches. Just like all features, you’ll navigate to the Alexa app, skills settings, and add your Domino’s profile to place orders and even impatiently check the status of your Hawaiian pizza.
Commands to try:
- Alexa, open Domino’s.
- Alexa, open Domino’s and place my Easy Order.
- Alexa, ask Domino’s to track my order.
Alexa can now read Kindle books.
Listening to books and articles can always help pass the time when you’re doing dishes or fixing something around the house. One of the newest software updates lets you ask Alexa to read you Kindle books. Certain features like bookmarks, chapters, and voice speed control aren’t supported (yet), but this is certainly a command to give a test spin on your Echo.
Of course, Alexa can also read Audible books, Wikipedia articles, and news articles via the Pocket app. To see just how much information Alexa can give you, try some of these commands.
- Alexa, read my book Unbroken.
- Alexa, read my Kindle book.
- Alexa, pause.
- Alexa, play.
- Alexa, skip back. (This goes to the previous paragraph)
- Alexa, go forward.
- Alexa, stop.
- Alexa, tell me more about rugby. (This will have Alexa read you a Wikipedia article)
- Alexa, read my Audible book.
- Alexa, read my Audible book Yes Please.
We did a test run of Kindle books and Audible books with our Amazon Echo. In our video, you can compare the two services, and it’s very easy to tell the difference. Alexa’s voice keeps improving, but you can hear that she is a virtual assistant. Since Audible is actual books recorded by a voice actor, it’s a little higher quality. Audible also holds your spot seamlessly. So if you listen to a book on the Echo, and then get in your car and listen to the same book through your phone, it can pick up at the same spot where Echo left off.
There are definitely good features for the Kindle books with pausing and skipping. The only problem is that Alexa’s voice is still a little robotic to read an entire novel to me, but if I needed to listen to a book last minute for a class, I’m positive I would use this feature. Also, if I was a Kindle Unlimited user with unlimited book access, I would probably want to get my money’s worth by listening to books on the go using Echo. Here’s my video tutorial:
To find out more about Amazon Echo and its newest features, please visit Amazon.com.