Amazon may have had trouble competing with Apple and Google on smartphones and tablets. But when it comes to the connected home, Amazon might be the winner.
The tech giant's hit voice-controlled home device Echo comes with Alexa, Amazon's virtual assistant that can answer questions, turn on lights, order items like diapers, and even call you an Uber. Amazon also recently revealed a new smaller version of the Echo, dubbed the Echo Dot.
The Echo was so popular that Amazon sold out of the Internet-connected appliance, which retails for $180. Amazon's Echo landing page promises more Echo devices will be back in stock by April 1. The Echo Dot costs $89.99, but it is available only for Amazon Prime members.
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For current and prospective owners, here are six useful (and even wacky) things that the Amazon Echo can do:
Turn on your lights: You can link your Echo to turn off, turn on, or dim the lights in your home. The Echo can connect to Phillips Smart Lights, WeMo lights, and other connected light. You could also simply tell your Echo, "Alexa, turn on kitchen," and your lights will turn on.
Control the temperature of your home: Amazon has partnered with smart thermostat makers Nest, Ecobee, and Honeywell to enable Echo users to turn up the heat or AC using voice commands with Alexa. On a whim, homeowners can tell Alexa, “Turn up the heat to 70.”
Order a Pizza: Customers can use Echo to order pizza deliveries by linking a Domino’s Pizza profile account with the Amazon Alexa app. With those powers combined, users can ask Alexa to order a pizza from the nearest Dominos.
For more on Amazon's Alexa, watch:
Check your credit card balance: Capital One customers can check balances, find out when bills are due, and even pay bills through through Echo. Capital One was the first financial institution signed up to work with Alexa, equipping its clients with access to interact with their financial information through the living room-based device.
Monitor your steps and calories burned: Thanks to a very recent integration with wearable tracker manufacturer Fitbit, Alexa can tell you how many steps you’ve taken that day, how you slept, and how active you’ve been based on your Fitbit activity.
Order an Uber: If walking isn't an option, your digital personal assistant can ring for a chauffeur instead. After enabling the Uber skill in the Alexa mobile app, you can tell your Echo, "Alexa, order me an Uber," and Amazon's virtual assistant will call up and send an Uber to your location. It will even tell you how far away the Uber driver is.