Amazon Echo: first impressions and menu map

Amazon Echo: first impressions and menu map

Update: as June 23rd, the general public can now pre-order Amazon Echo (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) with an “in stock” date of July 14th.

My

Amazon Echo

is here!

Regular readers may have noticed that I said “My” on this one…I usually say, “Our” to include my Significant Other…but my SO doesn’t really like the idea of the Echo, at least not yet.🙂

What is the idea of the Echo?

Well, it’s two main things.

It is a Bluetooth speaker…and quite a nice one. My SO was out of the house when I was testing it, and has exceptional hearing, so I will be interested in my SO’s opinion…but for me, it sounds good.

There was someone else here, who remarked on the quality of the sound.

Bluetooth means that it connects short-range wirelessly to Bluetooth connected devices…for most people, that would be SmartPhones, tablets, could be laptops, TV devices (like the Fire TV), and other things that aren’t really relevant here (keyboards, mice, headphones).

Second, though, and to me, cooler, is that it is an “ambient computing” device.

What that means is that you can use it in one of the big ways you use a computer…but you don’t have to think much about doing it.

It listens to you…quite well. I do naturally project (I’m a trainer), but speaking pretty normally, it could hear me easily across the room.

You can then ask it questions, or tell it to do some limited things.

It understood me right out of the box.

Oh, about taking it out of the box. You plug it in. You download the

Amazon Echo app (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

if you haven’t already (I had).

You follow the very simple instructions…you will need the password for your wi-fi network (if your wi-fi network is password protected).

That’s about it.

A demo video ran in the app, and I was off to the races!

Let me give you my subjective impressions first…

The sound is good. Update: my SO has come home now, and thinks it is the best music sound we have had from any device. We’re not super audiophiles, but my SO is including a Fire tablet and our TV in that.

The ability to play music from Prime and other sources is outstanding. I have it playing Huey Lewis right now (so it is playing that when my SO comes in…Huey is a fav). I just had to say, “Alexa, play some Huey Lewis” and start it shuffling it…whether or not I have it in my music library. That’s because I’m a Prime member, and it’s available through Prime. Everybody will be Prime members who have gotten them from Amazon at this point.

It does great with some questions, but it’s inability to understand some can be a bit frustrating. That’s improving every day.

It’s heavier than I expected.🙂 That’s actually a good thing…it seems very solid. I’ve put it on an end table…and our terriers do get up on that table from the couch sometimes. I’m not worried about it…they aren’t going to knock it over, I think.

I really like that you do have to pause slightly after you say “Alexa”. Why? So that it doesn’t start listening why I use Alexa in the middle of the sentence, talking to someone about the device.

Okay, let’s get a bit more systematic.

I can see there is a microphone off button on the device itself, but outside of that, I haven’t done anything with the device except plug it in to power and put it on a table. It’s sleek looking, and the lights on it are cool (blue lights circle the top of the cylinder when it is listening).

The remote looks very much like the remote for our

Amazon Fire TV (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Not quite the same, but it has the familiar microphone symbol, and then a circular control functions ring.

You can hold down the microphone and talk to it to speak to the Echo.

You might wonder why you would use a remote.

Well, I’m in a different room right now…the Echo is in the family room, and I’m in the den (where I commonly write). The Echo did hear me when I spoke loudly…but not once I had the music going. The remote easily sends my communications to the Echo in the other room (maybe thirty feet away with no closed doors, but with a wall in the way.

The other manual buttons on the remote

  • play/pause (>||
  • skip ahead (>>)
  • skip back (<<)
  • volume up (+)
  • volume down (-)

work like you would expect with music.

Batteries were included for the remote (easy to get the back off and insert them).

Oh, one nice thing: using the remote, you don’t need to use the “Alexa” wake word…you can just talk to it.

The remote also comes with a handy magnet cradle…I’m using it right now (I have a magnetic board in the den). The magnet sticks (super strongly…it was hard to remove), and the remote fits inside that.

It is, as I think many people know, plugged in all the time.

Okay, that’s the key hardware.

I’m going to share how well it’s been understanding me, then I’ll go through the menus in the app.

It keeps a record of our “voice interactions” in the app. Let me run through some things I’ve said, and how it responded:

  • “Alexa, what’s the weather?” It gave me a nice response for our local area (it knows my location in part, I assume, because we are Prime members…it came registered to the account). It gave it for a town over, but that’s fine. It said, “In *** it’s 76 degrees with clear skies and sun. Tonight, you can look for just a few clouds in the sky, and a low of 49 degrees.” The only thing for me was it only gave the temperature in Fahrenheit, and I prefer Celsius
  • So, I asked, “Alexa, what’s seventy six degrees in centigrade?” It responded, “76 degrees Celsius is 168.8 degrees Fahrenheit.” I’m impressed that it understood that I meant “Celsius” by “Centigrade”, but that wasn’t what I was trying to determine. However, my question was arguably ambiguous, and most people using the device (which is only available in the USA and only by invitation at this point) would mean it that way it interpreted it, I think
  • I followed up with, “Alexa, what is seventy six degrees Fahrenheit in Celsius?” and it got that right, “76 degrees Fahrenheit is 24.44 degrees Celsius”
  • “Alexa, play some Prime music.” “Here’s a Prime Playlist you might like, Earbud Vacation: West Coach Beaches”
  • “Alexa, where is the nearest Ikea?””Sorry, I didn’t understand the question I heard”
  • “Alexa, what time is it?” Correct
  • “Alexa, what’s the date?” Correct
  • “Alexa, who plays Captain America?” “Sorry, I don’t know the answer to your question.” However, it gave me a way to go to Bing in the app, which did have the answer (several answers…Chris Evans is just the most recent)
  • I could not get it to understand “Avengers: Age of Ultron”
  • “Alexa, who is on first?” “That’s what I keep telling you! Hu’s on first, Watt’s on second.” That’s pretty impressive…it’s an old Abbott and Costello routine about baseball players
  • “Alexa, to be or not to be?” “That is the question.”
  • “Alexa, who put the bomp in the bomp shoo bomp shoo bomp?” (that’s how it heard what I said) “Sorry, I didn’t understand the question I heard”
  • “Alexa, play some big band music.” Played Swing Jazz playlist from Prime, which was a good choice
  • “Alexa, play some Bruno Mars” Started right off with Uptown Funk
  • “Alexa, play some Creedence Clearwater.” I was impressed that it got this right (it shuffles music from the artist), since I deliberately left off “Revival”
  • “Alexa, who starred in The Avengers?” It didn’t know
  • “Alexa, who starred in Gone with the Wind?” “The stars of Gone with the Wind include Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, Olivia de Havilland, George Reeves, and Hattie McDaniel.”
  • “Alexa, play Old Time Radio.” It did start playing an old time  radio show, although it was in the middle of it…I think it was from a TuneIn station
  • “Alexa, play Star Wars” It played the end theme, which worked well
  • “Alexa, how many calories in a carrot?” It game me a long answer, with lots of different kinds of carrots…reasonable
  • “Alexa, what are some quotations from Casablanca?” It didn’t know that, but it could tell me who starred in Casablanca, how tall Humphrey Bogart was (in metric and English), where Humphrey Bogart was born, what Humphrey Bogart’s first movie was, and when that movie was released. I did have to say “Alexa” at the beginning of each of those questions, and I stated the question fresh…I didn’t say, “Where was Humphrey Bogart born?” get an answer, and then say, “How tall was he?”
  • I got it to play some sound effects…for example, I said, “Alexa, play a dog barking”. It did, however, identify the track first. I think if I’d had it in my library, that might have been easier for it
  • “Alexa, how long is the Golden Gate Bridge?” Correct
  • “Alexa, what is Stephen King’s latest book?” “Stephen King’s latest book is Lisey’s Story”
  • “Alexa, what was the score of the Giants game?” It gave me the score…and the app gave me the box score, which was great.
  • “Alexa, who is Bufo Calvin?” Interestingly, it got “Bufo” correct in the app, but it heard “Calvin” as “Kelvin”, and couldn’t find an answer

That gives you some idea.

Now, menus!

The menu button is three horizontal lines (which is standard with Amazon).

  • Home (announcements)
  • Now Playing (Player, Queue, History…interestingly, the history is quite extensive, letting you Create a New Station based on a song you’ve played, or Shop Digital Music Store). You can also start playing music again, and see who the artist is
  • T0-do Lists (and a number showing you the number of items). Tap that, and you can mark something done, move an item to the Shopping List, or Delete item
  • Shopping list (similar to To-do list
  • Timer (you can also set one manually in the app). This, by the way, is where you remove items. If you ask the Echo to remove an item, it tells you to go to the app
  • Alarm (you can also set one manually)
  • Your Amazon Music Library: Playlists|Artists|Albums|Songs|Genres…and a search for your music
  • Prime Stations
  • Pandora
  • iHeartRadio
  • Tunein

Settings has sub-menus, so I’m going to do that one separately here:

  • Bufo’s Echo: Update Wi-fi | Bluetooth | Remote (so you can make it forget your remote, if you get a new one) |Echo device name (mine came named “Bufo’s Echo”. I could change that, but it wouldn’t change the “wake word”, just how I see it referenced at Amazon) | Echo device location (mine actually was wrong, but I fixed it…that should take care of the weather thing of being in a nearby town) | Wake Word (you can choose Amazon or Alexa…we say “Amazon” too much for that to make sense right now. They are going to add more) | Metric measurements (Yay! I didn’t know you could do that! I may change it, although I do have to consider my Significant Other in that one) | Sounds (Alarm and Timer Volume) | Wake up Sound (if you want to turn on a confirmation for that…it’s defaulted off) | End of request sound (again, if you want a confirmation that it realizes you are done speaking…defaulted off) | Echo is registered to…(and a Deregister choice) | Echo software version (I’m on 2392) | Serial number
  • Set up New Echo (it will just automatically start looking for a new one…you can cancel)
  • History (this is aplace you can see all of your voice interactions)…one disappointment here, is that it doesn’t give me a way to get back to the Bing search easily
  • Under Account, we have
  • Music Services: Amazon Music, Pandora, iHeartRadio, Tunein (you can link to accounts for Pandora and iHeartRadio if you have them)
  • Voice Purchasing (this appears to just be for music at this point, but eventually may hopefully be for more). You can turn it on or off, set up a pin (which you’ll say aloud to confirm a purchase), and you can go to your 1-click settings
  • Flash Briefing: it came defaulted to NPR, but you can also use BBC News| ESPN Sportscenter | Economist | NPR Business Story | NPR Technology Podcast | TMZ News. That will play it in the original voice. I preferred hearing text-to-speech in Alexa’s voice. You can choose categories, although I didn’t find a way to change the order of the categories, or to skip to the next category when it was reading. The categories are: Top News | U.S. | World | Politics | Business | Sports | Entertainment | Tech | Science |  Health | Offbeat. I need to experiment with this more, but I tried, “Alexa, what’s the entertainment news?” and it didn’t skip ahead to that. Weather is also here
  • Traffic: it starts with your address, and then you can add a destination. You could also change the first address. I tested this…there are two popular routes from our house to a destination in San Francisco, and it told me how long it would take and which route was fastest…nice!
  • Household profile
  • Connected Home (the Echo works with WeMo and Hue devices at this point, so you could tell it, “Alexa, turn the hallway light on” and it would, if you have that set up)
  • About the Amazon Echo App

Okay, after Settings:

  • Things to Try
  • Help: Amazon Echo User Guide | View Intro to Echo | Contact Us (e-mail or phone) | Legal & Compliance
  • General Feedback
  • Voice Training (I have not done this yet…and it’s been working well)

Whew!

That’s enough to get started! If you have questions, feel free to ask me by commenting on this post.

Bonus deal: I always like to do at least one book thing:

30 Kids’ Books $1 each (at AmazonSmile*)

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

35 Responses to “Amazon Echo: first impressions and menu map”

  1. destryelaine Says:

    Say, alexa, knock knock……..this is new, my grandkids are going to love this
    Totally love the shopping list. I go thru my pantry, fridge, etc, saying what I need. Go to store, look on my phone, it’s there
    Remote is in my bedroom, alexa in living/kitchen. Can say, simian says, telling hubby to start dishwasher or whatever
    I only wish they would program multiple timers and alarms. We use HER to set timers for chores and alarms for appts and getting ready for appts
    I too love the sound quality, you can use as a speakerphone for your cell if your cell has Bluetooth too
    Have fun

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, destryelaine!

      “Knock, knock” was fun! I tried this one today, which your grandkids might appreciate (depending on age): “Alexa, who’s the fairest of them all?”

      Interesting idea on the speakerphone! I’ll have to try that.

      I think multiple alarms and timers will happen. I also think they’ll just admit that you can text with it and add that to the commands. You can do it now, using IFTTT (If This Then That) and adding something to the shopping or to do list.

  2. Phink Says:

    Glad you got it and hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoy mine. My echo also thinks I live in a town about 20 miles from here. So far, I have found no way to correct it. The biggest problem with that is if I want to know how far I am to a certain location it’s guaranteed to be off by a few miles.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Phink!

      Once I corrected my ZIP code, it was fine. Have you done that?

      In the app: Settings – Echo Device Location

      • Phink Says:

        Yes I did. Once I re-read your post I saw you said it could be done in settings. I somehow misread it the first time. I thought I explored the settings long ago but I guess not. it works fine now.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Phink!

        That’s great! I’m glad it works for you now.🙂 It’s possible the settings have changed since you looked…

  3. Lady Galaxy Says:

    The Echo is totally confusing to me. I always assumed it required wi-fi but that it was self sufficient. Then you say it is blue tooth. Then you lost me at “download the Echo app.” Download it from where to what? Your computer? Cell phone? Kindle Fire? Do you then transfer it from that device to Echo? Do you use blue tooth to transfer it?

    • Tom Semple Says:

      The Echo app is required to set up wifi on the Echo and provides another way to interact with it (for example to browse your music library and play something from there, play/pause/skip etc.). You can also engage a ‘training’ with it to improve recognition, but we haven’t done that, either. Also you can give feedback on whether it understood a particular request. I believe you can also use a computer browser to do the wifi setup, though I have not done that myself. The app is available for iOS, Android, and Fire (Amazon AppStore)

      • Lady Galaxy Says:

        So for those of us who don’t have a smart phone or an iPad or a Fire, it wouldn’t work?

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Lady!

        I think this page will help you a lot:

        Amazon Echo Set-up help page (at AmazonSmile)

        In addition to using the apps, you can use:

        Safari
        Chrome
        Firefox
        Internet Explorer (10 or above)

      • Tom Semple Says:

        You can use a web browser on a computer instead of the mobile app. It looks like it has the same functionality.

        Another nice feature is that if you have linked two accounts for ‘Family Library’, you can switch between the respective music libraries.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Tom!

        Yes, that’s correct…on both counts.🙂

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Tom!

        I appreciate you jumping in…hadn’t had a chance to get back yet.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Lady!

      Sorry about that! I was trying to get a lot written on it that night, and it has been a long week at work.🙂

      What you need for the Echo is the same thing you would need for a wi-fi only Kindle: a wi-fi connection. That will get your device talking to Amazon’s servers.

      Just like with a Fire tablet, though, it is also Bluetooth capable. That’s not for it to get the basic data: it’s so it can act like wireless headphones for another device, sort of. It’s a speaker. So, for example, I can connect my Kindle Fire HDX to the Echo using Bluetooth. Then, when I play audio on the Fire, it will play through the Echo (sounding much better).

      You do also use the app to set it up (although I believe you can also use your computer). The Echo doesn’t have a keyboard, so how could you enter the password for your network? You use the app on your phone to do that. The menu I was listing was for the Echo app on my Fire Phone.

      Where you would get the app would depend on your phone: Google Play for some phones, the Apple Appstore for others, and the Amazon Appstore for some. I said “phone” but it could also be a tablet (I could use it on my Kindle Fire HDX).

      The app doesn’t need to get on to the Echo…you are using the app on your phone/tablet to control your Echo. Think of it…like the Echo is a TV and the app is the remote control.

      Hope that helps…

      • Lady Galaxy Says:

        LOL! Long week at work? Or late nights playing with your new toy;) I appreciate your and Tom’s attempts to help me visualize the set up process, but I’m still not sure if I have all I would need to make this work. Yes, I do have a wi-fi router, but I haven’t set it up yet. Because my Mac is currently having other Amazon problems, I’m not sure if I would be able to use the browser on my computer without getting some sort of alert that something was haywire. I’ve been wanting a smart phone. Maybe I’ll finally take the plunge and give myself one for my birthday which is coming up soon. I rarely talk on the phone, so that’s what’s been keeping me from getting a mobile as the Brits call it, but I’ve come to realize that today’s smart phone isn’t really a phone at all. It’s a miniature computer.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Lady!

        I know it’s a rhetorical question, but long week at work.🙂 I do sometimes stay up a bit later writing, and I’ll admit that happened with that Echo post.

        I think getting a SmartPhone is a good move. I would say that having a SmartPhone is, nowadays, a higher priority than having a personal computer at home. The phones actually can do a lot more of “activities of daily living”.

        For example, we do “video visits” where I work. We very much encourage our members to use a mobile device to connect! The mobile device will have a much better picture, better sound, and more stable connectivity than a laptop with a webcam.

        I rarely talk on my phone(s) (one for home, one for work), but I use them every day.

        As to which one…

        I preferred my Samsung Galaxy to either my Fire Phone or the iPhone I use for work. The iPhone might be the easiest thing for you, especially if you keep using your Mac.

  4. Edward Boyhan Says:

    Glad you finally got it. I’ll be interested to see what you think of it after a month or so …

    • Lady Galaxy Says:

      Same here. Will we possibly be seeing an “I LOVE my Echo” blog?

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Lady!

        I don’t think so. It doesn’t have anywhere the depth of things to discuss as the Kindle and books, in my opinion. Oh, I suppose if you are really a musicologist, you’ve got a lot more to write there. I like lots of different kinds of music, but I can’t imagine writing a whole post on, say, versions of Bizet’s Carmen to which you can listen through Prime (there appear to be seven right now).

        I’ll just write sometimes about it in ILMK, which has grown to embrace all Amazon devices (and Amazon generally), while still focusing primarily on ones that work with books.🙂

        It would make a whole lot of sense for me to do a book on the Echo before the general release (which I now think may be coming in mid-July). I don’t know if I’ll be able to get that done, though.

      • Lady Galaxy Says:

        Please do write that book! You do such a good job of explaining things. And a music blog appeals to me. Lately I’ve been buying more MP3 files than books from Amazon, and I had no real interest in the Echo until you mentioned it as a way to play your Prime music with good sound quality. The whole idea of having n electronic spy in the house reporting back to corporate headquarters still creeps me out, though!

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Lady!

        I appreciate the kind words! I’m considering writing it…I have a lot of things on my plate right now, but I’m sure it would help people.

        I wouldn’t be good at a music blog: I’m not sure many people listen to the Templeton Twins, the Moirs, and TV theme songs.😉

        The Echo isn’t much of a spy…not too many spies would put a big light on their heads that turns on every time they start listening to you.😉 It’s quite out in the open. I would guess it is much more likely that other devices in my home are listening to me clandestinely than that the Echo is.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Edward!

      Always interesting to see how things change in our lives…what “sticks” and what doesn’t. I periodically examine my usage of things, and sometimes revise what I’m doing based on that. My Significant Other is less likely to do that, so I’ll be curious to see what “sticks” there.

  5. David Goldfield Says:

    Bufo, while I always enjoy reading your blog I must confess I’ve been checking it quite often lately just to read your impressions about the Echo once it arrived and so I’m glad you posted this piece. I’m visually impaired and I can certainly see the benefits of a device like this for folks who are blind. However, I’m wondering if Amazon incorporated a text-to-speech option into the device to alter any settings or configuration options or do you have to do this via another device? If someone has an Echo but not a Kindle, I’m wondering if we’ll see an option on the Amazon Web site to alter the Echo. Maybe they could give us a “manage my Echo” page.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, David!

      Well, there’s nothing at all that I do with the Echo itself that requires vision. There are just two buttons on it, and they have tactilely differentiated them (the power button has a bump on it…the microphone off button doesn’t).

      So, as long as your phone/tablet/computer has a screen reader, you would be fine.

      You can change some things by voice command at this point (for example, turning the volume up or down)…but the Echo isn’t even really released yet, so I think we’ll see a lot more.

      The ability to use it with some smart home outlets and with IFTTT (If This Then That) could be really useful for those with a visual impairment.

  6. Edward Boyhan Says:

    So it seems like about once a week I get a new Amazon Echo email telling me of some new Echo feature. Today’s email announced the availability of “Prime Stations” — these are mostly artist-themed Prime “Radio” Stations (I’m not sure how these are any different than the pre-existing “Prime Playlists”).

    Anyhow the email contains a link to a web page that lists all the stations categorized by “genre”. There’s even several stations to listen to while working, studying, or reading (:grin).

    On the prime stations web page there is button on each station to play it. If you have Bluetooth connected to your echo, pushing this button (on for example the James Taylor station) will cause the station to “play” on the Echo. But if you ask Alexa to “Stop”, she’ll tell you she can’t control Bluetooth devices.

    On the other hand if you say: “Alexa play James Taylor prime station”, Alexa will play the James Taylor prime station, and if you ask her to stop, she’ll happily do so. Further, if you play a station using Alexa, you will see what’s currently playing (and what has, and will play as well) in the Echo app. You can control the playing as well from the Echo app.

    On the other hand if you play the station via bluetooth, the Echo app will only show that “Bluetooth” is playing. And you will again not be able to control what’s playing from the echo app.

    The same email announcing prime stations pointed out that over 10,000 IFTTT recipes for the echo had been created, and that over 100 of these had been publicly shared. A link to the shared recipes is embedded in the email:
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/r.html?R=9H3H48JXI9DT&C=1I8WJAIRBYXYN&H=DKGHITS4MKPDMF44S7LNXSFIOEKA&T=C&U=https://ifttt.com/amazon_alexa

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Edward!

      Playlists and Prime Radio stations are two quite distinct things, and both are available through our Echoes.

      Playlists are static. If there are fifty songs on a playlist, it’s those same fifty. When you get to the end of the fifty, it stops, unless you tell it to repeat.

      Prime stations are fluid…hypothetically, you could just keep listening, although of course, they will run out of music, just like an old school radio station and start repeating. On a Prime station, you can also “thumbs up” and “thumbs down” a song, which presumably affects what plays (I’m thinking in the aggregate, not for you personally).

      As to the Bluetooth thing, what you are saying makes sense. If you have connected your phone or tablet by Bluetooth, the Echo is just acting like an external speaker for that device…it can’t relay commands back to the device. When you play it directly from the Echo, it does have control over what it is doing.

      Oh, and you can “skip” a song as often as you like on a Prime station, by the way.

  7. David Goldfield Says:

    Ah, I see. I, too, was sharing in Lady Galaxy’s confusion as I didn’t understand which app on which device you were accessing to configure the Echo but the follow-up answers cleared this up. Now, what would be very, very, very nice is if Amazon gave the Echo the capability to read from your purchased books and magazines. I could say “Alexa, read “Encounter at Farpoint” and it could start reading from the page which I last opened on another Kindle device. I think I may write to Amazon to suggest this.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, David!

      Please do write Amazon! It’s been one of the requested features from other people, and the more who write in, the more likely it will happen. For books which are not in the public domain, it may require another negotiation with the rightsholders. I could certainly see them arguing that an Echo was likely to be used for a public performance, which is another right. I’m not saying it would be used that way, but it would be a legal point to make.

  8. Phink Says:

    I did finally send a suggestion to Amazon through my Echo app. I’m the type that thinks they probably get hundreds if not thousands of suggestions a day so I’m not sure mine will go far. But I did suggest they not only set the Echo up to give us stock quotes but to take it a little further than that.

    I suggested they should allow us to enter into our Echo app what holdings we have including number of shares. Then we can ask “Alexa, what’s the price of Exxon Mobile (or XOM)?” Or we could take it further and ask something like “Alexa, What are the details of my portfolio?” Then it’d tell us how much it’s worth, how much we are up or down for the day and then the individual stock quotes in our portfolio. I forgot to mention this in the message to Amazon but I’d prefer the stock quotes be last so I could say “Alexa Stop” if I wanted after hearing how much I’m up or down. If I wanted I could possibly ask “Alexa, what’s the price of all my stocks?” and then she’d go one by one telling me.

    I was expecting a stock reply but instead I got what looked like a personal email from somebody that works for them. He said he loved my idea and would forward it and also said he’d like to see this himself and would use it.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Phink!

      I think you’ve thought it through thoroughly! Good on you for sending that to Amazon…this is a time when suggestions can have the most impact, before it is actually released. They have said that stock quotes are coming in the future, but that would be a good way to do it.

      Even if thousands of ideas are sent into them, each one will have equal weight…and if several people suggest the same thing, that can only help encourage them spending the resources to develop and implement it.

  9. Round up #294: 100% royalty rate, Kickstarter goal reached | I Love My Kindle Says:

    […] Amazon Echo: first impressions and menu map […]

  10. VickiL Says:

    I received my Echo on 5-8-15, and they only kink I had in setting it up was trying to get the remote opened up to insert the batteries.

    It took me so long to figure it out that the set up process timed out so then I called customer support about how to restart it. I told them about the difficulty I had opening the remote (had to use a pair of needle-nosed pliers to accomplish the task). The rep told me they had received quite a number of similar complaints and they were thinking about a redesign of the instructions to better explain that step.

    Anyway, he got me and my Echo up and working in a couple of minutes and I love the music playing features of it. I have also started using it for my shopping list, so that both my husband and I can contribute to it, and then the list shows up on the app on our phones so we both have sync’d versions of the list at any time, no matter who makes the grocery store run.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, VickiL!

      That’s interesting! I didn’t have a problem with that, so perhaps it is something they have changed, or inconsistent quality control. I’ll ask in the Kindle Forums (there’s a long thread there) and see if anybody else there had that problem.

      • VickiL Says:

        I think the big issue for me was that I don’t have much in the way of fingernails. The little tab is flush with the back of the remote, so I couldn’t grasp it well enough to press it down and pull it up at the same time. I would imagine it would work much better if you have fingernails that are a bit longer. I had just clipped mine short that same morning.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, VickiL!

        Perhaps that was the issue…it doesn’t mean it should be an issue, but they may not have tested it with freshly clipped nails.🙂

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