What Can Alexa Do

Alexa is Amazon's virtual voice assistant, available on various Amazon devices like the Echo. Alexa provides a wide range of capabilities through voice commands, from playing music to controlling your smart home.

But what can Alexa do for you? Keep reading this comprehensive guide to learn all about Alexa's many features and skills.

What is Amazon Alexa?

Amazon Alexa is a virtual assistant developed by Amazon. It is capable of voice interaction, music playback, making to-do lists, setting alarms, streaming podcasts, playing audiobooks, and providing weather, traffic, sports, and other real-time information.

Alexa can also control smart home devices using itself as a home automation system.

Alexa is integrated into Amazon's Echo line of speakers (such as the Echo Dot and Echo Show) but also has additional integrations in smart home and other devices.

Users interact with Alexa by speaking a wake word (such as "Alexa") to activate the device. Alexa then records the user's voice and sends it to Amazon's cloud servers for interpretation.

Alexa's responses are generated by artificial intelligence and natural language processing algorithms running in the cloud.

What things can an Alexa do?

Alexa comes with a variety of built-in functions to help with everyday tasks. Here are some of the most popular things you can ask Alexa to do right out of the box:

Play Music

Alexa can play music from Amazon Music, Spotify, Pandora, TuneIn and more. Just tell Alexa to play a specific song, artist or playlist and it will start streaming instantly.

Set Alarms and Timers

"Alexa, set an alarm for 7 a.m. every weekday." or "Alexa, set a timer for 15 minutes." Alexa can set single or recurring alarms and timers to help keep you on schedule.

Check the Weather

Getting weather updates is easy: "Alexa, what's the weather today?" Alexa will share the current conditions and forecast.

Get News Updates

Stay informed by asking, "Alexa, what's the latest news?" or customize your flash briefing with your preferred news sources.

Smart Home Automation with Alexa

Alexa allows hands-free control of compatible smart home devices, but what smart things can you do with Alexa?

Here are some of the top ways Alexa can automate your home:

Control Smart Devices

Use voice commands like "Alexa, turn on the lights" or "Alexa, lock the front door" to control smart lights, locks, switches and more.

Adjust Thermostats

Alexa can adjust connected thermostats. Just say "Alexa, raise the temperature 2 degrees."

Lock Doors

Lock and unlock your August or Schlage smart lock by saying "Alexa, lock the front door."

Turn Lights On/Off

Control Hue, Lifx and other compatible lights with commands like "Alexa, turn off the kitchen lights."

In addition to directly controlling devices, Alexa can be integrated into third-party hubs and home automation systems such as Home Assistant and SmartThings allowing you to control many more devices that Alexa might not be able to control directly.

Alexa Communication Features

Alexa offers several ways to communicate hands-free using your Echo device:

Make Calls

Make free voice calls to friends and family with an Echo. Just say "Alexa, call Mom" to be connected.

Send Messages

Use Alexa to send a recorded voice message or text to anyone in your contacts who has the Alexa app.


Broadcast short announcements like "Dinner is ready!" to Echos throughout your home.

Drop In

Instantly connect with family at home using two-way audio between Echos with Drop In.

Information and Research with Alexa

Alexa is like having a personal research assistant. Here are some of the many topics you can have Alexa look up for you:

Get Definitions

"Alexa, define belated." Alexa can provide definitions from the web for all kinds of words.

Convert Units

"Alexa, how many ounces are in a cup?" Alexa can convert between units of measurement on the fly.

Spell Words

Unsure of a spelling? Ask Alexa to spell words for you.

Calculate Math

Alexa can do basic addition, subtraction, multiplication and division calculations.

Entertainment with Alexa

Alexa offers tons of entertainment options, from audiobooks to games. Here are some fun ways to pass the time with Alexa:

Listen to Audiobooks

Listen to audiobooks from Audible using Alexa voice commands.

Play Games

Alexa has interactive games like Jeopardy, 20 Questions and more. Just say "Alexa, let's play a game."

Tell Jokes

Brighten your day by asking Alexa to tell a joke!

Shopping with Alexa

Alexa can make your online shopping easier in several ways:

Reorder Items

Running low on household staples? Say "Alexa, reorder paper towels" to replenish frequently-ordered items.

Track Packages

Ask "Alexa, where's my package?" to get the latest delivery status for your Amazon orders.

Find Deals

Deal hunters can ask "Alexa, what are your deals?" to hear about special offers and discounts from Amazon.

Alexa Skills

In addition to its built-in functions, Alexa can learn new abilities with skills. Here's an overview:

What are Skills?

Skills are like apps for Alexa, enabling new capabilities through third parties.

Skills allow developers to expand what's possible with Alexa while giving you customized voice commands tailored to your interests and home. They help other devices work with Alexa.

Best Alexa Skills

Popular skills include Fitbit for fitness tracking, Uber for ridesharing, Allrecipes for cooking help, and more. There are over 100,000 skills!

Alexa Routines

Routines are a powerful Alexa feature that allows you to automate multiple Alexa skills or smart home devices into one routine. Here are some key things to know about Alexa routines:

  • Routines allow you to bundle together multiple commands into one action. For example, you could create a "Good morning" routine that turns on the lights, reads the weather and news, and plays music.

  • They can be triggered automatically at certain times or locations, or manually by voice command. Routines triggered by time can go off at sunrise, sunset, or a specific time.

  • You create routines in the Alexa app by selecting the "Routines" section and clicking the "+" icon to make a new one. You give the routine a name, choose how to activate it, add the desired actions, and set the order they occur.

  • Actions can include skills like playing podcasts, smart home commands to control lights or other devices, getting information like weather or calendar events, and more.

  • Routines are customizable so you can tweak the triggers, actions, and ordering to suit your needs. You can have multiple routines for different use cases.

  • They require an Alexa device like an Echo speaker or Fire TV. Routines are linked to your Alexa account and work across Echo devices in your home after being set up in the app.

Alexa Guard

Alexa Guard turns your Echo into a basic home security system by listening for potential threats when you're not around and alerting you about them. It works entirely through your Echo without the need for additional security hardware.

Here are some key things to know about it:

  • It lets your Echo device listen for potential security concerns when you're away from home. This includes sounds like breaking glass or smoke alarms.

  • If Alexa detects something concerning, it can send you Smart Alerts via the Alexa app to notify you. You can choose to forward these alerts to your security provider.

  • Guard can play dog barking sounds through your Echo if an unusual noise is detected to potentially deter an intruder.

  • A new Away Lighting feature automatically turns connected lights on and off to make it look like someone's home when you use Guard.

  • Guard is set up through the Alexa app. You select which Echo devices to use and customize alert settings. It works best with multiple Echo devices placed in different areas of your home.

  • For added security, you can also enable Alexa Guard+ as a paid subscription. It includes features like emergency helpline calling.

  • Your Echo must be connected to the Alexa app to enable Guard. It leverages the microphone and processing power of Echo devices for security.

What can Alexa do without Amazon Prime?

Many of Alexa's core capabilities work without Prime, including smart home control, information lookup, entertainment options, and general personal assistant features. You'll just miss out on access to the full music library, original content, and special deals that Prime provides. But Alexa still offers plenty of useful functionality at no cost for non-Prime members.

What can Alexa do without the internet?

Without an internet connection, Alexa has very limited functionality:

  • Set alarms and timers - Alexa can set single alarms and timers without the internet, but recurrence requires internet.

  • Play very limited music/radio - Some Echo devices have a built-in radio tuner for a few HD radio stations. That's about it for music without internet.

  • Bluetooth connections - You can play music directly from a paired Bluetooth device like your phone.

  • Listen to Kindle books - Alexa can play Audible audiobooks loaded directly onto the device's memory.

  • Basic smart home commands - Some simple commands like turning lights on/off may work if you have smart home devices connected directly to your Echo via Zigbee or Bluetooth instead of WiFi.

But most of what makes Alexa useful requires an internet connection, including:

  • Streaming music services

  • Controlling internet-connected smart home devices

  • Getting information (weather, news, etc)

  • Making calls

  • Using skills

  • Shopping/reordering items

  • Alerts and notifications

  • General knowledge questions

Without the internet, Alexa loses the vast majority of its capabilities and is reduced to just a very basic clock radio and limited smart home controller.

An internet connection is required for Alexa to be a useful voice assistant in most cases.

What can Alexa do that is funny?

Here are some funny things you can ask Alexa to do:

  • Tell jokes - Just say "Alexa, tell me a joke" and Alexa will share a corny joke from her repertoire.

  • Insult you - Say "Alexa, insult me" and Alexa will come up with a random, mildly insulting quip.

  • Beatbox - Alexa can beatbox surprisingly well. Try saying "Alexa, beatbox" to hear her skills.

  • Play weird sounds - Ask Alexa to meow like a cat, roar like a dinosaur, or make an elephant noise for some silly sound effects.

  • Sing a song - You can ask Alexa to sing you Happy Birthday, jingle bells, or another silly tune. Her singing skills are quite mediocre for comedic effect.

  • Fake an orgasm - If you ask Alexa to fake an orgasm, she will respond with something like "I don't actually have feelings."

  • Tell you a secret - Alexa will share random absurd "secrets" if you ask her to tell you one.

  • Give you a compliment - Alexa will say nice, if somewhat generic, things about you if you ask her to compliment you.

  • Play TV/movie quotes - Alexa has a library of recognizable quotes she can recite from popular shows and movies.

  • Tell you corny science jokes or math jokes - Just ask Alexa to tell you a science or math joke to get some extremely cheesy humor.

Alexa offers quite a few funny commands that can catch you off guard and provide some laughs. She's got an endearing corny and sarcastic personality when asked to do silly things.

Privacy Concerns

While Alexa is designed for hands-free convenience, it also raises privacy concerns for some users about having an always-listening device.

Alexa continuously listens for its wake word, but only records and transmits audio to Amazon servers after it detects the wake word. Users can view and delete their Alexa recordings for added privacy.


As you can see, Alexa is capable of doing a wide variety of tasks through voice commands.

It can be a personal assistant, news source, home automation hub, entertainer, shopper and more. With new skills continually being added, Alexa's abilities are always expanding.

So give Alexa a try and see how many ways it can help simplify and enhance your everyday life!


Can Alexa make phone calls?

Yes, you can use Alexa to make hands-free phone calls to numbers in your contact list or any phone number by asking Alexa.

Does Alexa have medical skills?

Yes, Alexa has some medical-related skills like medication reminders, first aid assistance, and doctor appointment booking. But Alexa cannot provide medical diagnoses.

Can Alexa do more than one thing at once?

No, Alexa can only handle one request at a time. It cannot simultaneously play music and check the weather, for example.

Does Alexa listen to everything you say?

No, Alexa only records and sends audio to Amazon after its wake word is detected. It does not record or store all conversations.

How much does Alexa cost per month?

Alexa itself does not cost anything to use on a monthly basis. The Alexa voice assistant is built-in and included with Amazon Echo devices and other Alexa-enabled products. There are no monthly fees or subscriptions required to use Alexa's basic functions.
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