Today, TechCrunch reported that Amazon is finally adding a feature to all its Alexa-enabled devices that will allow you to use them like an intercom. You can call the kiddos for dinner, beckon your spouse without leaving your comfortable chair, and even have your Echo announce your departure or arrival as though you're a dignified guest attending a very important masquerade ball. It's like texting someone from a room away, but with more gusto.
The feature is expected to roll out to Alexa-enabled devices in the U.S. and Canada over the course of this week, so if you have multiple Echo speakers and want to be the first to creep your family out by pretending to be the overbearing virtual lady from Smart House, read on (and, if it helps, imagine me as the tiny cartoon demon on your shoulder giving you all these super cool ideas).
How to make Alexa announce things for you
If you'd like Alexa to relay a message for you in its automated voice, all you need to do is say "Alexa, announce [your message here]." So, for instance, if you'd like to let everyone know that you're popping out to grab the bread you forgot earlier, you can say "Alexa, announce that Tory is going to the store" and it will say "Tory is going to the store" through all the connected Echo speakers in your residence. (Although, you know, say your own name, because unless you're also called Tory, it'd be weird to say my name.)
Though TechCrunch's report states that this command causes Alexa to relay the information for you, in our testing it still used our voices.
How to speak through Alexa directly
If you'd prefer to go full ghost-in-the-machine and broadcast your actual voice through your Echo devices, you can say "Alexa, tell everyone [your message here]" or "Alexa, broadcast [your message here]." Honestly, I can't tell if using your own voice would be more or less unsettling — you'd have to try both methods to be sure.
Maybe the best (or worst?) part of this entire thing is that depending on what you're asking Alexa to communicate, it may play a relevant sound effect to really emphasize your point. Here's the full list of effects so far and how to trigger them, according to SlashGear:
Wake Up – Sound Effect: Rooster Crow
Say: "It's time to wake up", "rise and shine"
Quiet Time – Sound Effect: Shhhh
Say: "Quiet Down", "Everyone be quiet"
Late/Let's Go – Sound Effect: Feet running
Say: "We're late", "Let's go"
Bedtime – Sound Effect: Twinkle Twinkle
Say: "It's time for bed", "Time to sleep"
Goodnight – Sound Effect: Yawn
Say: "Goodnight everyone", "Sleep tight"
Meal – Sound Effect: Dinner bell
Say: "Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner's ready", "It's time to eat"
Congratulations – Sound Effect: Cheer
Say: "Congratulations," "Way to go"
Media time – Sound Effect: Show tune
Say: "Let's watch TV", "The movie is about to start"
Love you – Sound Effect: Playful kiss
Say: "Love you"
I joke a lot, but honestly, this would be pretty handy if you're up to your elbows in pancake batter while cooking a sweet breakfast for your fam and don't really have the time or energy to go wrangle everyone individually. And, according to TechCrunch's piece, it's a long-promised capability, and is joining well-loved communication features like Alexa Calling, Messaging and Drop In.
Are you going to utilize Alexa's new intercom feature? Let us know in the comments!
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