It's been two months since I acquired Amazon Echo, the voice controlled device that can do a surprising amount of things. That feature list is always growing as well, with an increasing amount of partnerships and developers writing "skills".
Has the novelty worn off? Well, somewhat, but I still use it every day. It has become a tool that works for me and there are many features that come in handy.
I play Pandora while I work and I can ask Echo what song is playing and it responds with artist and title. That information is also available in the Amazon Alexa app. The device can set a timer for whatever span you want - "Alexa, set a timer for ten minutes". That's a feature I use daily so as not to forget something on the stove or in the oven.
You can even use it to set an alarm and, with the Wink Hub, have it turn on the lights when the alarm goes off - maybe, that's next.
Therein lies the one problem I've encountered, though it doesn't seem the fault of Echo. It's actually the home automation hub linked to it. This turns the lights on and off with a voice command, which seems handy until it doesn't work. I dread asking it to turn on the lights and hearing "that command doesn't work with that device". It simply means I have to reset the hub, and is an easy enough fix, but annoying, especially in the dark.
Alexa will read me the news, which it pulls from NPR. It will create playlists of music from Amazon Prime Music. Other content can be pulled from TuneIn Radio or you can link your iHeartRadio account to Echo.
I'm only scratching the surface with the functions I'm using. A plethora of others exist, including IFTTT integration to create your own recipes, SmartThings integration (maybe your lights will work), Google Calendar, audio books and much more.
The past couple of months have been a fun, and occasionally bumpy ride. Would I recommend Echo after my experiences? Absolutely. It's an interesting device with a growing ecosystem of features and integration.
Is Amazon listening to everything you say? Well, sort of - if it begins with "Alexa" then it's processed by the retail giant's servers and provides instant answers. This is evident when you open the app on your phone or tablet and find information about your actions.
Am I worried about that? Not particularly. I can live with it.