Amazon is known as a top eCommerce and technology company, and it’s easy to see why with its large selection of innovative gadgets and gizmos.
If you’re into tech, you may be asking, what is Amazon Alexa, and is it worth the money? I was very interested in this too, so I started researching Alexa and was surprised at everything I learned!
What Is Amazon Alexa In 2023?
Amazon Alexa is a virtual assistant developed by Amazon to pair with the Echo smart speaker as of 2023. Since its release in 2014, it has become a household name and is available on Alexa-enabled smart home devices, both made by Amazon and third-party manufacturers. You can ask Alexa the same questions as a search engine.
If you want to know more about Amazon Alexa, including how this technology was developed and everything you can ask Alexa, then keep on reading!
How Does Amazon Alexa Work?
Amazon Alexa is an innovative virtual technology that responds to a wake word, typically “Alexa.”
Thanks to voice recognition technology, when a supported device hears Alexa, it switches to active listening and responds to questions and commands.
Basically, the Alexa technology built into smart speakers detects the wake word’s acoustic patterns and responds to a wide range of commands.
As long as the Echo speaker or Alexa-enabled device is connected to Wi-Fi, it will stay in sleep mode while listening for the wake word.
If you say, “Alexa,” then it will start listening to your questions and requests, making your life easier in the process.
Also, the Echo indicates Alexa is active with a blue light or tone sound on the speaker as it starts processing the command.
The next step is cloud verification, which is when Amazon’s secure cloud verifies the wake word.
To ensure safety and privacy, all Alexa interactions are encrypted on their way to the cloud, and you can view, hear, or delete these voice recordings whenever you want.
Additionally, there’s even an automatic option to delete voice interactions and delete voice settings for different devices.
On top of managing Amazon Alexa voice recordings, you can manage the mic and camera controls depending on the Amazon-enabled device, which could be a speaker, TV, tablet, or laptop.
What Is The Purpose Of Amazon Alexa?
Amazon developed Alexa to give itself a significant advantage in the growing smart speaker and home automation industry.
That said, by creating its own virtual assistant technology, Amazon has stood out from its competitors in recent years.
There’s a lot you can do with Amazon Alexa, such as ask questions, play music, get directions, tell jokes, change the thermostat, and control other smart home devices.
When the device hears the wake word, it sends requests to the secure Amazon cloud, which has the most powerful capabilities to answer queries.
Then, once Alexa confirms the answer with the Amazon cloud, it says it out loud and initiates the requested action.
If you’ve never used Amazon Alexa before, think of it this way.
When you want to listen to music, you could say, “Alexa, play top hits,” which would initiate Amazon Music to play popular songs through the speaker.
From music to shopping lists, instructions, to general online searches, Amazon Alexa is designed to make it all easier, as you can get hands-free support from anywhere in the room.
As an Amazon device, of course, there are plenty of Amazon-inspired features too.
For example, you can use Alexa to shop on Amazon, track orders, and play Prime music and podcasts whenever you want as well.
At the end of the day, the purpose of Alexa is to make life easier and show people how handy virtual assistance can be in everyday life.
By streamlining searching, shopping, streaming, scheduling, and so much more, Alexa has become an integral part of many households.
Is There A Monthly Fee For Amazon Alexa?
Considering Amazon Alexa is a technology service, many people wonder if Alexa has a monthly fee.
Fortunately, the good news is there’s no monthly subscription required for Alexa, although you do need to pay upfront for an Alexa-enabled device.
That said, the most common Alexa device is the Amazon Echo speaker, which comes in several different sizes and designs, ranging in price from around $40-$200.
Also, the newer models like Echo Show may be more expensive but feature display screens for watching video content powered by Alexa.
So, if you’re looking for something on the less expensive side, the Echo Dot is a smaller version priced under $60, or you could consider a certified refurbished Echo device from Amazon.
While Amazon Prime is not required for Amazon Alexa, it’s pretty convenient to pair the two together, as you can access attractive Prime benefits with hands-free support from Alexa.
For example, if you pay the $119 yearly Amazon Prime membership fee, you can use Alexa to place quick orders on all your favorites for free two-day delivery.
Additionally, you could ask Alexa to stream music, podcasts, or audiobooks through your Prime account.
After paying for the Echo or a similar Alexa-enabled device, you have full access to Alexa and its capabilities, with the option of paying for additional subscriptions depending on how you want to use your smart speaker.
What Are Alexa Devices?
Alexa devices are electronics that support Alexa virtual technology. Initially, Alexa was used exclusively with Amazon Echo smart speakers, as they were released simultaneously.
However, now Alexa is available on more than just Amazon Echo speakers, as the technology has quickly grown to become the most popular virtual assistant in the US.
Today, the list of Alexa-enabled devices covers over 20,000 devices, including smart speakers from big brands like Bose, Huawei, Lenovo, LG, and Riva.
When it comes to TVs and media boxes, Alexa works on Amazon Fire TV and certain smart TVs from Element, Sony, and Samsung.
That’s not all, as Amazon Fire tablets also support Alexa in addition to Huawei, HTC, and Motorola tablets. Many Acer Aspire, Asus, HP, and Lenovo laptop models support Amazon Alexa too.
Still, the list continues as Alexa works on several smart home systems, from Nest thermostats to LG smart refrigerators.
Moreover, many home light control and security systems can be paired with Alexa.
Finally, more and more earphone and automobile brands are also jumping onboard the Alexa trend. Ford, BMW, Mini, Toyota, Lexus, Volkswagen, and Garmin are a few product manufacturers that now support Amazon Alexa technology.
What Is The Alexa App?
The Alexa app is an Amazon app required for Echo smart speaker setup, and Amazon recommends Alexa users download it to make the most of this technology.
Designed for both Android and iOS, the Alexa app manages settings on Alexa-enabled devices and controls preferences.
Also, the free app keeps track of Alexa activity and offers things to try, skills/games, and blueprints. You can set lists, notes, reminders, alarms, and routines in the Alexa app too.
Further, it’s easy to set up and add devices in the Alexa app, whether you have several Echo speakers throughout the house or you have smart lighting and security controls.
What Are The Pros Of Amazon Alexa?
There is no shortage of advantages associated with Amazon Alexa, as this modern technology is changing the way millions of people manage their home lives and everyday tasks.
Essentially, Amazon Alexa is incredibly versatile, and there are so many different requests you can make, such as setting alarms or listening to the weather forecast for the week.
Additionally, Alexa answers many common questions by searching the web and reporting back to you.
Also, it creates and adds to lists, plays music, calls contacts, and makes it easy to order household essentials hands-free.
Alongside the obvious benefits of Alexa, like more accessible organization and entertainment, it can also be very affordable.
For example, there are no monthly fees, only the upfront costs of the Alexa-enable device and any extra subscriptions you sign up for.
Another advantage of Alexa is its integration with Amazon Prime, so members can make the most of their benefits by streaming digital content and placing orders for free delivery directly through Alexa.
But, don’t forget there are many options for using Alexa, too, as it’s available on thousands of different devices beyond the standard Amazon Echo smart speaker.
Finally, don’t forget that Amazon is regularly updating Alexa to ensure it stays at the forefront of virtual assistant technology, so a quality supported device is an investment you can use for many years to come.
What Are The Cons Of Amazon Alexa?
While Amazon Alexa has many benefits, there are some possible downsides to think about.
Of course, you need an actual device to support Alexa technology, so there are costs involved, and some options are better than others.
Also, Amazon and similar tech manufacturers are regularly updating their product offerings, so it’s possible you could buy an Alexa device just to have it go out of production in a few years.
Echo Look, Echo Spot, and Echo Plus are a few examples of Amazon smart speakers that were only available for a few years before the company discontinued them.
Although a discontinued product is certainly inconvenient, there are other possible downsides to consider when using Amazon Alexa, particularly your personal privacy.
For example, when you purchase an Amazon device and set up Alexa, you agree to give away your privacy, as Alexa always listens in the background.
Further, this technology stores conversations, so you have to be mindful about updating your security preferences if you want to minimize how much information Amazon can collect from you.
In addition to the potential for others to access your conversations, Alexa may take a few days to update, and an internet connection is required for most commands.
Alexa in a vehicle is great, but you have to have the right make and model.
That said, there’s usually some troubleshooting involved no matter which Alexa-enabled device you use, so it’s important to weigh up how much you want to depend on this technology in your daily life.
Amazon Alexa is Amazon’s virtual assistant technology used most commonly with the Echo smart home speaker.
That said, it’s been around since 2014 and has quickly become the most popular smart speaker setup in the US, dominating the market and turning into a household name.
Now, nearly 70% of all smart speaker users nationwide use Echo and Alexa, opting for the clear benefits of an innovative virtual assistant that connects regular Amazon shoppers to their favorite products and digital services.
Alexa listens in the background for commands, so wherever you’re in the room, you can request assistance, whether that be through directions to the nearest store or playing music to entertain family and friends.
While there are a lot of advantages, Amazon continues to update its Alexa technology to ensure the highest level of virtual assistance for all the top tech gadgets moving forward.