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Alexa, can you fix these 5 little annoyances? Quick and easy solutions to minor problems



All new Echo Dot with clock

If the numbers on your Echo Dot with clock are too bright or too dim, you can adjust the setting in the Alexa app.

Amazon

It’s the little things that get the most annoying, isn’t it? Like forgetting to turn down your Alexa speaker volume before going to bed, or an Echo Dot with a clock bright enough to land on a plane. All in all, Amazon’s smart speakers and screens are great, but these little grievances can really gnaw at you.

I get it – when it comes to pet bullying, I have a catalog that’s bigger than Chewy’s (the Amazon of pet supplies, for those without a fur family). But I also have solutions.

In no particular order, here are five of the most annoying issues I’ve had with my Amazon Echo devices and what I’ve done to fix them.

echo-show-5-bedroom

You can have Alexa respond with a whisper if you whisper when giving the voice command.

Amazon

Alexa, can you please suck down?

Nobody wants Alexa to yell at them in the middle of the night. But if you were rocking to some bangers before bed and forgot to turn the volume down when the lights went out, “spooked” is an understatement for what you’ll be when you turn around and ask, “Alexa, what time is it? “what you quickly discover is 3:13 am

There are actually a few ways to deal with this:

  • Lower the volume as part of your bedtime routine: If you’ve set up a routine that activates every night when you say “Alexa, goodnight,” you can add a command to set the volume to something comfortable (I like volume level 3 for nighttime).
  • Make a routine to lower the volume every night at the same time: say 10 p.m., when you normally fall asleep.
  • Use whisper mode: It’s easy. Just whisper to Alexa, and your speaker will whisper back.
Echo Dot with maximum clock brightness

If you could land a plane by the light of your clocked Echo Dot, try adjusting the brightness setting in the Alexa app.

Dale Smith / CNET

Your Echo Dot with clock can be seen from space

The Echo Dot with clock has an ambient light sensor that adjusts the brightness of the clock based on how much light is in the room, but it doesn’t always stick. You may have a night light nearby that turns it off, or you may be sensitive to light when trying to sleep (that is, keep a roll of electrical tape handy for bedroom appliances).

Here’s how to adjust the Echo Dot with the clock’s brightness:

1. Open the Alexa app, crane Appliances then tap Echo and Alexa and LED screen

2. Either turn off Adaptive brightness or not.

3. Adjust the …. slider (if you leave Adaptive brightness turned on, the clock will still change automatically from the new position).

Kanye West 808s & Heartbreak on Apple Music

Kanye West’s seminal album 808s & Heartbreak is available on Apple Music, despite Alexa’s protest to the contrary.

Screenshot by Dale Smith / CNET

Alexa consistently bumps your musical request

I listen to Kanye West’s 2008 masterpiece 808s and Heartbreak – in its entirety – several times a year, but Alexa reliably messes up the request every time I ask for it, no matter how I ask for it. (“808s and Heartbreak is only available with Amazon Music Unlimited,” I’m always told, even though the album is highly available on my linked streaming service, Apple Music.)

To get around this or any other music request, Alexa routinely burps – like trying your Echo speaker for something from Chvrches (pronounced “churches”) or !!! (“chk chk chk”) – I create a playlist in Apple Music and then ask for the playlist by name (playlist ‘Alexa, play’ the best hip hop album of all time ‘,’ play playlist ‘Chvrches’, play playlist ‘exclamation mark’, etc.).

Someone named Alexa – or even Alex – is in the room

Given the nightmare I experience when talking to an Amazon representative – even if I mute the Echo Show 5 at my desk, another Alexa device elsewhere in the house invariably hears me every time I get the ‘A’ word say – I can only imagine the horror if someone who was actually called Alexa ever passed by (or worse, lived in the same house).

On those work calls, I started using the code name given to Alexa on the Internet of Things podcast – “Ms. A” – but that wouldn’t work with a real human called Alexa, let alone my brother Alex, it pronouncing whose name Alexa has accidentally recalled more than once.

echo2.png

You can summon your Amazon digital voice assistant with “Alexa”, “Amazon”, “Echo” or “Computer”.

Chris Monroe / CNET

I’m not really worried about my brother coming over because it happens so rarely, but if you often find yourself brightening up Alexa devices when you’re not actually talking to them, you might want to choose a different wake word than “Alexa (“Amazon”, “Echo”, or just “Computer” are also options).

1. Open the Alexa app and tap More in the lower right corner, then tap Settings

2. Crane Device settings then find the device you want to change the activation word for and tap on it.

3. Scroll all the way to the bottom and tap Wake upthen tap which one you want to use.

4. Press back button <) twice in the top left corner to return to the device list; repeat if necessary for your other Echo speakers or displays.

You feel like Alexa just doesn’t understand you

Communication problems can hinder any relationship, but the benefit of having a digital voice assistant is that there may be a technological solution. If the problem seems to be that Alexa is downright misunderstanding you (I know my acquired Kentucky accent can sometimes get in the way of dictating speech), try using Alexa’s voice training feature.

1. Open the Alexa app, adhesive tape More Tap in the lower right corner Settingsthen tap Your profile on the top.

2. Next Vote, crane Create (or Management if you’ve done this before and want to do it again) and follow the instructions from there.


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