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How to Use Your Amazon Alexa at Home

Our Amazon Alexa tips can help you become more familiar with your new virtual assistant and make the most of her capabilities.

The future is here — well, almost. But it is definitely on its way! One of science fiction’s greatest promises is the connected home with voice commands or automatic sensors for everything. While we’re not quite there, intelligent personal assistants in the home, like Alexa, are pushing the bar forward.

At first your Amazon Alexa is a fancy way to discover what time it is and what the temperature is, but after a little playing around you’re sure to unlock more features that will help you on your road to that futuristic smart home you want. Check out these tips and get closer to your connected vision.

Change Alexa’s name. Not only may there be a little identity crisis if you have someone named Alexa in your home, but every commercial for Alexa may signal your device. To avoid this annoyance you can change the wake word to Amazon, computer, or echo. Unfortunately, you cannot (yet) change the name to anything you want.

Connect to supported devices. In your quest to create a smart home you may have already started using Nest to control your thermostat or Ring doorbell devices to safeguard your home from unwanted visitors. If so, these devices may work with Alexa to create an integrated system that you can control by voice command. And they’re not the only ones! Alexa keeps adding smart devices to their supported network to give you a more seamless system. (Bonus Tip – Ring and Nest users may qualify for American Family smart home insurance discounts)

Connect to non-supported devices. While the list of supported devices is growing, it’s still not all-inclusive. If you have a non-supported device, look for a “Skill” — which is basically an app that teaches Alexa how to do new things. If you cannot find a Skill for your device, then look into IFTTT (If This, Then That). This flexible service helps Alexa connect to products and services that aren’t officially supported but may work well together with a little help.

Chat with Alexa. The more you chat with Alexa, the more integrated it becomes with your daily routine. Start by setting reminders to yourself to turn off the oven, pick up the kids, or call your mother next week. Take it up a notch by asking for help cutting a recipe in half or settling a trivia dispute. The more comfortable you are with Alexa today, the easier it will be to adapt as she evolves.

Do not disturb. Need a break from technology and your constantly connected environment? Simply say, “Alexa, turn on do not disturb” and enjoy the respite.

Begin creating a customized connected environment by learning more about Amazon Alexa at the Echo & Alexa device website (Opens in a new tab). Moving forward, explore how the Internet of Things can help your family stay protected with smart locks, enhanced smoke detectors and more. Your American Family Insurance agent (Opens in a new tab) may even be able to help you secure a discount for including some qualified smart devices.

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