Things you'll want to ask Alexa while driving
Having a virtual assistant to do your bidding while driving can be rather useful. Here's how
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In case you've not been paying attention, digital assistants are rather clever now. They've gone from being an hilariously ineffective novelty to being genuinely useful during everyday life. And while they were once constrained to your home, now you can take them with you out in the car too.
Amazon's Alexa is now available in an increasing number of cars, taking voice control from the driver's seat up a considerable number of notches from the admittedly rather flimsy efforts of yore. So, what can it do?
"Alexa, take me home"
Home is where the heart is. But, more accurately, home is where you legally live (Photo: Stephan Bechert on Unsplash)
Lost? No more fiddling about with touchscreen menus; Alexa can talk to your in-car navigation system and, assuming you've told it where you live, it'll automatically plumb in directions to take you out of the woods and back to safety where those bears can't hurt you.
"Alexa, what's the traffic like?"
In retrospect, the Brooklyn Bridge at rush hour was always likely to be rather busy (Photo: Sean Geraghty on Unsplash)
Once you've got a route lined up, Alexa can check to see what the current traffic conditions are like. If you've got your work address set up in the system, just say "Alexa, what does my commute look like?" and she'll know you're talking about your morning schlep, and advise accordingly. Looking busy? Stop for pancakes. Your boss will understand. Probably.
"Alexa, play some heavy metal"
Yeah, Asimo gets it (Photo: Possessed Photography on Unsplash)
If the traffic isn't particularly great, then you might need to let off steam. So just ask Alexa to play some music. You can specify a genre, artist or song, and also control radio stations on AM, FM or Sirius. Nothing eases a freeway snarl-up like Iron Maiden at full volume.
"Alexa, call Barry"
Classic Barry (Photo: K. Mitch Hodge on Unsplash)
"Hi Barry, yeah, I'm stuck in traffic, so I might be a bit later than I intended. Yeah, I know, it sucks. Yeah, I tried the Iron Maiden thing and I feel a lot better, but the traffic's still gnarly. Yeah, I reckon I'll stop for pancakes until it clears. Ok, bye."
(Alexa can make hands-free calls for you, in case that wasn't clear. And to anyone, not just Barry.)
"Alexa, check the news"
Please note Alexa does not include typewriter (Photo: Markus Winkler on Unsplash)
You can set Alexa up to give you what's called a Flash Briefing; a short, snappy update of what's going on in the world. And you can customise it to include your favourite sources. A bit of breaking news, the latest entertainment gossip, maybe some sports. Perhaps you'll find out what's causing all the traffic?
"Alexa, add pancake mix to the grocery list"
YES (Photo: Sam Moqadam on Unsplash)
Alexa can look after your shopping list for you, and you and anyone else in the household can add to it as they'd like; no more scrabbling around in the kitchen for that piece of paper, or forgetting to add something later on.
"Alexa, turn on the driveway lights"
Some people may need more driveway lights than others (Photo: Dorian Mongel on Unsplash)
You're nearly home, it's dark. But you've had the very clever foresight to install smart lights on your driveway, either with specific lights or through a smart socket. So just ask Alexa to turn them on, and they'll light your way to the garage, like a welcoming airport guiding in a jet. But smaller.
"Alexa, did I lock the front door?"
Keys? Pah! (Kidding, you'll still need them at some point) (Photo: Syed Hussaini on Unsplash)
Disaster strikes – in the fury of your pancake addiction you forgot to pick up the syrup. You dash out to the store to pick some up. But in your panic you're not sure if you locked the front door. Luckily, Alexa can check your smart locks for you. "Alexa, did I lock the front door?" Yes? Phew. Proceed to syrup.