Amazon Echo....

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by UnluckyXIII, Dec 26, 2016.

  1. UnluckyXIII macrumors 6502

    Feb 20, 2014
    Hey guys,

    I'm not really sure where to post this so I'm guessing the "Mac Accessories" section will have to do. I've received an Amazon Echo for Christmas, in principle the idea seems great.... but.... I just can't seem to find much use for it, sure it's a laugh for the first 10 minutes asking Alexa to tell a joke or showcasing some of the basic commands to family/friends who have visited but I just can't see how I get more from this product. I don't have Amazon Prime (£80), I don't use Google calendars (use Apple calendars), I don't use Spotify (my music library is in iTunes) and my mobile devices are all Apple so not compatible with some of the additional accessories... I'm really struggling to find anything to use this for, I keep getting asked what I think of it from the person who gave me the gift and they keep saying how amazizng it is and that they watched YouTube videos showing it do all these amazing things (not thinking it costs say £150 for the Philips Hue lights, or £100 for the Nest thermostat.... the list goes on).... I feel really bad as obviously this has been purchased for me as I'm into my gadget/geeky/tech stuff but it just doesn't really do anything.....

    Anyone.... help!
  2. AlliFlowers Contributor


    Jan 1, 2011
    L.A. (Lower Alabama)
    There's another thread somewhere along a similar question. I use my Dot every morning and every evening for weather and news updates. It's convenient to listen to those things while I get dressed.

    My husband is in the process of installing lights that are controllable both the Dot and Android/iOS phones.
  3. Weaselboy Moderator


    Staff Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    I have one and enjoy it, but you are partly correct that much of the appeal for some is the home automation aspect, and for that you need add ons like Hue lighting or a Logitech Harmony remote control.

    We have it in the living room and use it for setting timers (like when cooking) and just general Siri type inquiries. For example, we will be watching a movie and wonder how old an actor is and we just ask the Echo and get the answer.

    Also, take a looks at Echo "Skills" and see if any of those appeal to you. Skills are sort of like apps that add functionality. Here are some suggestions.

    I use it for podcasts also if you are into that sort of thing.

    There is a good Echo forum here that I found helpful. Check the tips and tricks section there for ideas.
  4. UnluckyXIII thread starter macrumors 6502

    Feb 20, 2014
    It seems an expensive way to get something that my TV has delivered for years, not saying it's a bad feature but doesn't really bring anything worthwhile in my opinion :(

    I feel really bad as obviously it's been an expensive purchase that someone has thought would be an awesome present for me but without a hefty financial investment to get a better return from it (Hue and Harmony alone add £250 to the price, £50 for a second input device and then an additional £80 for Amazon Prime and were starting to talk some serious money but only achieveing a fraction of its potential).

    I've had a look at the skills but again, the best of these seem to exist for the additional purchases, the actual Echo unit as it stands (alone) really doesn't seem to be able to offer up very much at all, things like Uber don't exist where I live, no tube or trains, we don't have a local dominos, I own an Apple Watch instead of a Fitbit and I don't have an android device so that rules out most functionality.... which I guess makes it a very expensive mid-quality Bluetooth speaker at best :(

    Best work on my "yeah it's great" face for tomorrow
  5. mfram macrumors 65816

    Jan 23, 2010
    San Diego, CA USA
    I recently bought an Echo Dot. My killer app is smart home integration. Echo can control my Harmony remote hub and my Phillips Hue lights. HomeKit (Siri) can do the lights but not the remotes.

    Yes, I'm lazy enough to say "Echo turn on the PlayStation" as opposed to pressing the one button on my remote. Lol. Because that would involve actually picking up the remote.

    Amazon has done a great job allowing third parties access to the Echo system. It really is getting to the point you can just ask her to do stuff for you.
  6. UnluckyXIII thread starter macrumors 6502

    Feb 20, 2014
    But it all requires additional purchases to give the Echo any functionality, aside from the additional things which can be purchased what can the Echo do alone?
  7. mfram, Dec 27, 2016
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2016

    mfram macrumors 65816

    Jan 23, 2010
    San Diego, CA USA
    The remotes I already had. In a sense, I purchased the Echo because I wanted voice control of the remotes. The lights I added and have been happy with them. There are tons of "skills" available for the Echo. I probably will only use a few. But what it means is the device can be used for different things for different people. It's not for everyone, but I was happy to learn the Star Trek style voice-controlled "future" is already here. And the Dot is pretty cheap. I didn't get the big one because I didn't need another speaker.
  8. stevebaker42 macrumors newbie


    Oct 24, 2015
    Hello! I'll join the home automation, music, and weather user groups. Our home has a few dozen z-wave devices (thru a SmartThings Gen2 hub) and Alexa rocks the house ("Alexa, turn on the christmas tree lights"). Also use it for music ("Alexa, play cool jazz from prime music") and of course the weather ("Alexa, will I need a jacket tomorrow?").

    While I understand the security behind HomeKit devices, they are so late to market that it's really difficult for me to think about retrofitting the house, knowing that I'd lose these capabilities too. Plus, as posted earlier, Alexa works well with my Harmony Elite (I love the irony of saying, "Alexa, turn on Watch Apple TV" and it turns on and adjusts everything).

    We have one dot upstairs, an echo on the main floor, and a second dot in the finished basement. If you have Amazon Prime and any interest at all, I'd recommend at least trying out a dot. They're relatively cheap now and they do get smarter each week with new skills ("Alexa, ask the bartender how to make a manhattan") - yep, that works too.
  9. Tomorrow macrumors 604


    Mar 2, 2008
    Always a day away
    I've been having some of the same questions as the OP about this product. I don't have one (yet?), but for the life of me I can't figure out what I would do with it.

    I don't have wifi lights, and I don't see the need - light switches seem to work fine.
    I don't use Spotify or Google music.
    Most of my tech products are Apple.

    Even if I were to take the plunge into home automation, I just don't see the need for voice control - it seems like the ability to control something from a phone or tablet app would be more than enough, as it is right now using a simple switch seems intuitive enough.
  10. campyguy macrumors 68040

    Mar 21, 2014
    Portland / Seattle
    My GF loves her Echo. I haven't bought into it yet, despite being a Prime member - I'm old, and prefer to get off my butt to do stuff. She uses her Echo to turn on her ChefSteps Joule. I get up to turn on my 2nd-Gen Anova - I haven't even enabled BT or wifi on it (I also use my 20-year-old Coleman and an old immersible thermometer to sous vide, old school...). She uses her Echo to find out what the weather is like, it's connected to a Netatmo weather station (which is also talking to Weather Underground). I get off my butt to look outside to find out what the weather is like. She (my GF) can tell me it's 35 degrees outside - "chilly" works for me.

    The Joule and Netatmo link ups are pretty cool IMHO. I think she also uses it with her Ooma Telo - voice quality on my end of the calls is pretty darned good since she got an Echo.
  11. UnluckyXIII thread starter macrumors 6502

    Feb 20, 2014
    So if I don't plan on adding additional items to enable home automation or buying a second prime membership (we have household) there really isn't much at all that the Amazon Echo can do... aside from tell me the weather or how tall Taylor Swift is?
  12. stevebaker42 macrumors newbie


    Oct 24, 2015
    Most certainly, it's OK to Speak Now and Shake it Off for sure. While home automation has A Place In This World, it isn't for everyone Forever and Always. For us, it's a convenient Style when we're home, and Ours secures the house, controls The Outside and indoor lighting, etc. when we're not Out of the Woods. For the Fearless with a curious Style and a Clean $50 to spare, the Echo Dot is a fun Change to augment Innocent daily activities (recipes, reminders, research, etc.). On its own it certainly isn't a Superstar beyond your Wildest Dreams, but as part of a broader Enchanted ecosystem, I Know Places where on The Best Day it does shine All Too Well. ;)
  13. UnluckyXIII thread starter macrumors 6502

    Feb 20, 2014
    It took me a while to realise (and with googles help) that you were referencing the names of Taylor Swift songs haha!

    I'm a little gutted that the initial outlay for the Echo really doesn't bring/offer much. I guess since it was a gift I can't complain as the initial outlay hasn't been mine but it's still going to seem rather lack lustre when the giver next visits and asks to see what the Echo can do.... hopefully they are easily impressed with bad jokes and Taylor Swift trivia

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