This post was sponsored by Amazon as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.
Raise your hand if you got a brand new Echo Dot for the holidays? Both of mine are up! Amazon had some pretty spectacular deals throughout the season, so I got my mom one…and she got me one! Plus, I received one for this post, which I gave to my teen son to replace his 2nd Gen version. So now everyone in my house has their very own 3rd Generation Echo Dot!
We are having so much fun exploring everything Alexa can do! Read on for some of my favorite features and skills! First, though, let’s take a look at the differences between the 2nd and 3rd Generation Echo Dot.
What’s the Difference Between the 2nd Gen and 3rd Gen Echo Dot?
If, like us, you already had a 2nd Generation Echo Dot in your home, you might be wondering what makes the 3rd Gen different. Let’s start with the appearance and work our way in, shall we?
1. New Fabric Design
The 3rd Generation Echo Dot is definitely more attractive than its older counterpart. While the 2nd Gen fit in just fine in my son’s room surrounded by other tech devices, it did stand out a bit in a more “decor-oriented room.
The newer model is more attractive, especially when it’s sitting on your office desk or living room end table. With three fabric colors to choose from (Charcoal, Heather Gray, and Sandstone), it’s easier to match it to your overall decor. The fabric and new curved shape also gives it a softer look.
2. Better speaker and more powerful sound
Aside from appearance, the speaker is the most noticeable difference between the 2nd Gen and 3rd Gen Echo Dot. The newer model has a much louder, richer and crisper sound with a 1.6″ speaker and 360-degree sound, where the 2nd Gen only had a 1.1″ speaker. Whether you’re listening to music or just asking Alexa questions, you’ll hear the difference between the two models.
3. Same great price point!
The 3rd Gen Echo Dot still costs just $49.99 at full price, making it an economical way to bring Alexa into your home. At that price point, you can put one in every single room! Amazon also has some pretty terrific deals throughout the year, so keep an eye out for those! Even if you already have a 3rd Gen Echo Dot, you’ll quickly find that you want to add one to every room in the house.
Right now, we have one in my mom’s office (which doubles as my “reading room” at night), in the dining room/kitchen (next to my desk), and in my son’s room. We’re putting his old 2nd Gen in the living room. I’d still like to add one to my room, my mom’s room, and maybe even the bathroom (to listen to music when I take a bath).
4. Easy Set-up
I also notice that set-up is easier with the 3rd Generation Echo Dot. I don’t know if that’s because of the Dot itself or because the Alexa App has been updated. In the past, when we switched WiFi networks, it took some fiddling to get my son’s 2nd Gen back online.
On Christmas Eve, though, we set up three new 3rd Gen Echo Dots within minutes. In fact, when I opened my app on my Kindle Fire HD 10, they were already there! I just gave them all new names so we knew which was which.
Tip: If you’re setting up multiple new Echo Dots and want to know which is which, choose one on the list and scroll down to the “About.” Flip your Echo Dot upside down and compare the “DSN” number on the bottom to the number in your app. Once you have the right one, rename it.
Now that you have a good overview of the differences between the generations, let’s check out some really fun things to do with your new Echo Dot!
20 Cool Things to Do With Your New Echo Dot
Narrowing down the list of cool things to do with your new Echo Dot wasn’t easy! With hundreds of skills, you can actually do a lot more than you might think! Still, there are definitely features and skills that you’ll find yourself using more often than others, so let’s talk about those.
One quick note: I decided to only include features and skills that don’t require buying (or already owning) different physical products (like light bulbs, appliances, security cameras, etc). I want to demonstrate the usefulness of the Echo Dot for everyone, not just those who have a “smart home.” 🙂
1. Listen to music, even if you don’t know what you want to hear
Want to listen to some music while you work (or work out), but can’t decide what you’re in the mood for? Ask Alexa “what music should I listen to?” and she’ll suggest a new single. You can also just ask her to play a genre. For example, I just asked her to “play punk music,” and she selected a station for classic punk.
My son can never remember the name of songs, so he’ll just say, “Alexa, play the song that goes…” and tosses in the few words that he remembers. She hasn’t gotten it wrong yet, and he’s thrown out some super vague lyrics!
2. Use it like an intercom, thanks to Drop In
My favorite feature requires more than one Echo Dot, but it’s crazy useful! Drop In lets you connect to another Dot and use it kind of like a two-way intercom. It’s a lot easier than texting my son and waiting for him to see it (which could be ages if he’s in the middle of a game)…or yelling up the steps to him!
3. Shop with your voice
Need to reorder more toilet paper, cat food, or other essentials? Just say, “Alexa, order _____” and she’ll do it for you. You can also ask her to tell you the best-selling products in a category. Don’t worry, it’s easy to set up a voice purchasing pin to prevent others from buying 1,000 rolls of TP!
4. Get exclusive deals
Did you know that Amazon offers some deals exclusive to those purchasing through an Alexa-enabled device? Ask Alexa to find exclusive deals for you, then order right through your Echo Dot!
5. Track packages
Opening up your orders page and tracking packages that way is so 2018. Now, you can just ask Alexa to tell you where your package is by saying, “Alexa, where’s my stuff?” ! I have delivery notifications enabled, and she just told me that my dog food would be delivered today.
6. Set reminders
Before Alexa, our house was practically covered in sticky notes reminding us to call this person, buy that, pay this bill, take that medicine….etc and so on. Now, I just say, “Alexa, remind me to take my antibiotic at 5PM,” and she does it.
I also use her to remind me to add things to my editorial calendar! That way, if I get an idea while I’m eating dinner or watching TV, I can just tell her to remind me the next day when I’m at my computer.
7. Learn something new every day
Long ago, I set a rule for myself: learn something new every day. I also set the same rule for my son. Alexa makes it easy to learn not just one new thing, but many throughout the day!
Just say, “Alexa, tell me a fun fact” and see what happens! I just learned that the national animal of Scotland is the unicorn, and that Alaska cost $7.2 million when we bought it, which is about $120 million in today’s money.
You can also enabled skills for specific facts and information. Find thousands of them in the Education and Reference section of the Skills shop.
8. Find your phone
Can’t find your phone? Just ask Alexa to help you out! The first time you use this skill, you will need to actually know where your phone is because she’ll send you a text message to make sure it’s actually your phone. After that, though, just say “Alexa, find my phone” and she’ll ring it for you. Answer it and she’ll say, “I’m glad you found your phone.”
9. Send text messages
If you have an Android phone, this skill works right out of the box. For those of us with iPhones, you need to enable something like the Mastermind skill. Then, you can use your Echo Dot to dictate and send text messages!
10. Get dinner ideas
Can’t decide what to make for dinner? Just say, “Alexa, what should I have for dinner tonight” and she’ll give you a recommendation. You can also enable a ton of different meal-planning skills for more specific cuisines.
11. Order takeout
Don’t feel like cooking? Enable Skills for your favorite restaurant and ask Alexa to order your dinner for you. Just make sure you follow the directions for each skill Some require setting up an “easy order,” others allow you to reorder your most recent purchase, while some let you create a whole new order right from your Echo Dot.
12. Get physically fit
Alexa has numerous workout skills that you can enable to help you reach your physical fitness goals for this year. Just go to her health and fitness Skills section to find one that fits your needs. You can also say, “Alexa, help me work out” and she’ll start up a popular workout program.
13. Get mentally fit
Guided meditation is essential for those of us who just can’t quiet our minds on our own. If you need a little assistance winding down and focusing on being more mindful, just say, “Alexa, help me meditate.” She’ll recommend a few guided meditation ideas for you; or go to her health and fitness Skills to choose one for yourself.
14. Donate to your favorite charity
As long as you have an Amazon Pay account set up (which is super easy), Alexa can help you donate to one of 175+ charities across just about every category and cause. Just say, “Alexa, make a donation to….” and she’ll guide you through the process.
15. Ask Alexa to cheer you up
Feeling blue? Alexa knows a lot of fun jokes (she really seems to love chicken jokes) to cheer you up! Just say, “Alexa, cheer me up” and she’ll recommend something. You can also say, “Alexa, tell me a joke.” If you prefer to hear Jimmy Fallon tell the jokes, just say, “let Jimmy Fallon tell the jokes.” Miss Alexa? Say, “Alexa, I miss your jokes” and she’ll take over again.
16. Get help when you need it most
Alexa has a wonderful Skill that you can enable called “Ask my Buddy” that gets you the help you need when you need it most. Once set up, say, “Alexa, ask my buddy to send help,” and she will alert your family and friends right away. For those suffering from severe depression, this Skill could be a literal lifesaver.
17. Keep track of just about anything
Alexa has mad Skills when it comes to tracking everything from when you took your medicine to when you last walked your dog! You can even enable skills to help you find things that you put in a safe place. I never remember where that is, as my “safe” place changes daily.
18. Play fun games
Take a break from work and play a quick game with Alexa! I love playing 20 Questions with her. She almost always wins, but I have stumped her once or twice. I also enabled a bunch of different trivia games that I can play in just a few minutes.
19. Ask her to help you find new Skills
Want to ask Alexa to do something but aren’t really sure which Skill to enable? Just ask, “Alexa, what are your new skills?” to hear a list of the latest popular skills. If you have something specific in mind you can say, “Alexa, what are your ____ skills” to hear a few. My dogs are going nuts right now because I asked her for a few dog skills, and enabled one that barks! They are looking all over the house for the barking dog!
20. Create your own Skills!
Can’t find a Skill that fits your needs? Use Alexa Skill Blueprints to make your own! You can create custom Q&As, make chore charts, welcome guests to your home, and so much more. You can even make your own “flashcards” to study for a test! No coding required, just fill in the blanks on the templates!
As I said, there are just SO many different fun ways to use your new Echo Dot. I could write a full-length book and still wouldn’t cover every neat Skill. So far, though, these are my top 20 ways to interact with Alexa. Everyone I know with an Echo Dot just loves Alexa! It’s so convenient to use my voice to do just about anything, especially when my hands are already busy typing for work!
Echo Dot & Echo Show Giveaway
Enter below for a chance to win your own Echo Dot or Echo Show! Just follow the instructions on the entry form. Prizes include:
- Secondary prizes: One (1) of 10 Echo Dots
- Grand prize: One (1) Echo Show grand prize
I-C will randomly select winners from all program entries and Amazon will facilitate fulfillment of the winning prizes of 11 Winners. Good luck!
Did you discover any other fun ways to use your new Echo Dot? Tell me below!