From reminders, to tricks, to plain cool things – your Echo dot can do things people could have only dreamt of at one time. The best loved smart speaker can be used for a lot more than playing music or answering questions. If you’re the proud new owner of Dot, or are looking for some new things to try, we’ve got you covered.
In our previous Alexa guide we looked at some of the sweet accessories you can get for Amazon’s smart speakers. This time around we’ll be looking at some practical, useful and entertaining stuff you can do with your Amazon Echo Dot in 2020.
Do I need the latest Dot to do this?
Thankfully, the ever-useful Dot is way more forgiving with updates than some other technology companies I could mention. This guide will have stuff you can do whether you’re the proud owner of a 1st, 2nd or 3rd Gen Dot. And we’ll be looking at things to try, interesting things Alexa can do and much more.
#1 – Your Dot is great at playing games (like Trivia hero)
The idea of using our voices to play games is still fairly new, and the games available for your Echo Dot are improving every day and getting more interesting as they go. While the Dot can do loads of useful stuff, we’ll get to that in a minute. There are games that are highly suited to Alexa, more than they are games consoles, tablets or computers.
One of the best ones is the (100% free) Trivia Hero.
This 100% voice controlled general knowledge trivia challenge which you can play on your own, or against other people. You’ll be asked a series of questions and it’s definitely cool using your voice rather than a screen to play a game show. Like all the things to do in this guide, Trivia Hero is free.
Trivia hero is awesome. Give it a try.
#2 – Set useful timers and alarms
Filed under: Practical stuff
let’s look at something you can do an any Echo dot that while not especially ‘cool’ can be a real handy trick. getting Alexa to work for free as your own dedicated PA.
Setting alarms on your Dot, or simply getting your Echo to let you know when a timer has expired will save your butt more times than you can shake a smart speaker at. Unless you’re captain super-organized, your Dot might just save you some of these hassle points.
- Missed appointments will be a thing of the past
- No more legging it downstairs to see if that extra hour has actually turned your dinner into charcoal
- Your son won’t be left in reception because someone forgot to pick them up
- You won’t need a meditation timer on your phone any more…
And a zillion other uses.
What’s the voice command you need to get your Dot to remind you of something you have to do?
“Alexa, set an alarm for 10am tomorrow morning”
“Alexa set a timer for 20 minutes!”
“Alexa, remind me to call Dad in half an hour”
#3 – Control your lights by talking to them
Filed under: smart home integration
One of the best things to do with your Echo Dot 2020 is still getting it to control things in your smart home. The smaller dot works exactly the same as the larger units and there’s all kinds of things alexa can control.
When you think ‘smart home’, you might think that this is gonna get expensive! Well, you might be pleased to know that getting your Echo dot to talk to your lights isn’t as costly as you might think. With some products, like smart plugs, weighing in for around a tenner.
Check out these smart plugs on Amazon.
It never gets old using your voice to turn on lights when you enter a room. And aside from the normal uses, there’s plenty of more adventurous things your Dot can do when it comes to your lighting.
Fit some groovy colour changing bulbs, like the Teckin ones on Amazon, and you can tell Alexa to alter the colour of a specific room at home, or put on a fancy light show, or set the theme for an event light Halloween.
To do this, get a skill like Light Rapsody free from Amazon!
How to control your lights with an Echo Dot
There’s all kinds of bits and bobs you can buy, starting with a humble smart light bulb (available cheaply on Amazon), up to something like the Philips smart bridge (which lets you combine a number of lights easily). Or you can even use a simple smart plug to let Alexa take control of existing floor standing lamps.
Check out our quick guide on all things to do with your Alexa and home lighting.
Voice commands to control your lighting (with Rapsody)
…turn on the lights”
…turn off the lights”
…to brighten my lights”
…to dim my lights”
…stop flashing lights to music”*
…start flashing lights to music”*
#4 – Controlling your TV with your Echo Dot is awesome
Filed under: Extreme laziness / awesomeness
Hey, most of us love shouting at the TV anyway – it might as well actually do something. Many modern TVs already have voice control but if you’re looking to link everything together with your Echo Dot in your smart home, the little smart speaker is extremely good at this job.
As the video below explains, you can control both smart and non-smart TVs with Alexa, with the smart kind being a lot simpler (and free!) to do.
The process of getting Alexa to talk to your TV boils down to:
- Download an app that can control your TV
- Download a skill for Alexa that can talk to that app
- Link them together
Your smart TV has to be on the same WiFi connection as your phone and Alexa.
You can also buy an adapter or an extra hub to control your TV with any Alexa, if you really want to get into it.
Once set up, you’ll be able to do pretty much everything you can with a regular telly remote, without having to actually pick it up. No more playing hunt the remote or having to waste valuable ‘rest’ time travelling across the living room to grab it.
Related Echo Dot References and resources!
Here’s some interesting stuff we found around the web that you can try out with your Dot.
All things tech have a fab video on 10 best things you can do with your Amazon Alexa Device (that you may not know).
Find out how to enable skills for Alexa here on Amazon. It’s actually a lot easier than it sounds!
Craig’s Tech Talk has some more everyday, practical uses for Alexa too. Hey, we love those too.
WikiHow has a great guide on how to set Alarms with Alexa.
What’s the most popular smart speaker? Statista have a mind-blowing number of stats and facts on the Echo and other smart speakers.
Tell us what you love to do with your Amazon Dot!
Found a cool skill you can’t live without? Something useful or interesting you like to get your Dot to do? A friend share something crazy you didn’t know you could do? Please let us know in the comments!