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Alexa for iPhone gains voice activation, but it’s hardly hands-free as Amazon is calling it

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How to Host a Game Night Using Amazon Echo Buttons

Amazon’s Echo Buttons offer a fun way to play games in your house. Allowing you to host a geeky game night from the comfort of your own home (or anywhere else).

Echo Buttons are compatible with most Amazon Echo devices, are completely wireless, and are easy to set up and use. So all you need are some games to play.

In this article, we take a closer look at the Echo Buttons, explaining what they are, what you’ll need to start using them, and which games are worth playing!

What Are Amazon’s Echo Buttons?

It shouldn’t come as a huge surprise, but Amazon’s Echo Buttons look like they are straight out of a TV quiz show. A little smaller than a run-of-the-mill drink coaster, a black exterior gives way to the clear light and button portion. The light on the Button can turn different colors depending on what game you’re playing.

On the bottom of the Button is a battery compartment. Amazon includes the two AAA batteries for each Button. A maximum of four buttons can sync with a compatible Echo.

After unpacking each Button, you’ll need to install the batteries. Just to note, you’ll need a small Phillips screwdriver to unscrew the cover.

After screwing the battery cover back on, the Button should light up. To pair it to your Amazon Echo, just say “Alexa, pair my Echo Button.”

That’s all there is to setting up your Echo Buttons. And you’re now all set to start playing games with your Echo Buttons. But which games should you play using your Echo Buttons?

Fun Amazon Echo Button Games to Play

Three Echo Buttons

Now that you’ve set up your Echo Buttons, it’s time to play. Here are some great games you’ll definitely want to try out. The complete list of games compatible with the Echo Buttons can be found here.

To activate each game, known as a skill, you can just say “Alexa, activate [skill name.]” You can also activate the games through the Amazon Echo app for iOS or Android and on the web.

1. Trivial Pursuit Tap

Trivial Pursuit Tap

Just say “Alexa, launch Trivial Pursuit Tap.”

Made specifically to use with the Echo Buttons, Trivial Pursuit Tap takes the popular family-friendly board game into the modern age. Anywhere from two to four players can battle in this colorful trivia game.

Alexa will start with a trivia question from one of six different categories for all players. If someone answers the first question correctly, they will move on to the next category. A wrong answer will send the game back to the entire group. The first person to correctly answer a question from all the categories and a bonus questions will win the game.

If you have a touchscreen-enabled device—the Echo Show—you’ll also see a visual on how everyone is progressing toward a victory.

2. Full Count Baseball Trivia With Buster Posey

Full Count Baseball Trivia With Buster Posey

Just say “Alexa, play Full Count Trivia.”

It’s time to step up to the plate and test your knowledge of all things baseball.

In Full Count Baseball Trivia with Buster Posey, the San Francisco Giants catcher will host anywhere from one to four players in a trivia face off. The surprisingly robust game features six questions per day and covers anywhere from the modern game all the way back to the beginning of baseball and everything in between.

If you’re not a fan of baseball, skill developer Ground Control also offers similar skills for both football and basketball—Fourth Down Trivia with Philips Rivers and Buzzer Beater Basketball Trivia with Karl-Anthony Towns.

3. Don’t Cut That Wire!

Don't Cut That Wire

Just say “Alexa, play Don’t Cut That Wire.”

The Echo Buttons are also the star in Don’t Cut That Wire! Anywhere from one to four players can tackle the game, but you’ll need at least two Echo Buttons.

Alexa will show a pattern of colors on your Buttons. Then everyone will need to work together to help replicate the pattern and color of the Buttons so you can correctly defuse the bomb. To help defuse some of that pressure, Alexa is full of jokes in this game as you’ll definitely laugh when she says zingers like “I hope you get this right, I’ve got a date tonight.”

4. Party Foul

Party Foul

Just say “Alexa, launch Party Foul.”

See how well you truly know friends and family with Party Foul.

For two to four players, one player starts the game on the hot seat. They’ll have to answer yes or no to a specific question. This can be done by choosing pink for yes or yellow for no. Everyone else will hide their Button and try to guess how the person in the hot seat will answer. After Alexa tells everyone the results, the hot seat moves to the next player.

The questions strike a fun balance between overly revealing and slightly embarrassing.

5. Hanagram

Hanagram

Just say “Alexa, open Hanagram.”

Another game for two to four players, Hanagram is a fun word game and quiz mashup. Alexa will read a series of letter clues, and the first person to buzz in and correctly guesses the word gets a point. Whoever the first person is with three points will win the game.

Alexa will provide a little help by letting you know how many letters are in the word and a general idea of what it is. For example, a seven-letter word that is a color. You can also bring a pen and piece of paper to help out.

6. Rush Order

Rush Order

Just say “Alexa, play Rush Order.”

While Rush Order can be played by up to four different Echo Button users, this game is still definitely fun as a solo experience.

Testing how fast you can hit the Button, you’ll be tasked with preparing smoothies with different ingredients. The Echo Button will rapidly change color to tell you that ingredient. For example, green indicates celery and yellow means banana.

You’ll have to hit the correct colors to make it to the next round. And to no surprise, each successive round ramps up the speed. It’s a fun game that will get your adrenaline rushing.

7. Beat the Intro

Beat The Intro

Just say “Alexa, open Beat the Intro”

Test your musical knowledge in Beat the Intro. Just be the first person to correctly guess the song title and artist and you’re on the way to victory. Anywhere from two to four Echo Buttons can be used to allow players to buzz in with their guess.

You can play two packs with today’s hits and the greatest songs of all time for free. If you want even more fun, there is a Beat the Intro subscription service that allows you to play with thousands of songs from every genre and time period you can imagine.

8. Pixel Fun

Pixel Fun

Just say “Alexa, open Pixel Fun”

Pixel Fun brings a unique visual aspect to gaming. Compatible with any Amazon Echo device with a screen, two to four players can battle with Echo Buttons. Gamers will try to guess what picture is showing on the screen. There are three different modes where the image changes over time and become more clear.

If you like the game, there are three other sets available to purchase separately.

The city set features more than 50 cities from around the world. In the animal set, there are an additional 90 pixelated animals. A unique close-up set offers more than 60 different motifs where you zoom out over time.

9. Bandit Buttons

Bandit Buttons

Just say “Alexa, launch Bandit Buttons.”

Bandit Buttons is a fun take on a Wild West showdown. The game requires two to four Echo Buttons and offers two game modes. Quick draw is for two to four players and last player standing requires three or four players. As a nice touch, you can customize either mode to decide the level of challenge and gameplay length.

Scoring points is simple. Just be the first person to push your Button when all of the Buttons show the same color to score a point. Just make sure to not press a red button. The winner is whoever scores the set number of points.

Ready, Set, Game With Echo Buttons!

Whether you’re in the mood for some cutthroat trivia action with friends, or a relaxing night of gaming fun with the family, Echo Buttons can make any gaming night more enjoyable.

However, you don’t have to own Echo Buttons in order to have fun with Alexa. So here are some fun games to play on an Amazon Echo.

Read the full article: How to Host a Game Night Using Amazon Echo Buttons

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How to use Alexa’s Drop In and other communication features

For a simple intercom system in your home, use what you already own! Here’s how to use the Alexa communications features with Amazon Echo.
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How to use the Alexa app for your alarms, reminders and timers

If you want to try a new digital assistant, here’s how to use Alexa for alarms, reminders, and timers, with or without an Amazon speaker.
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How to set up and play Spotify on Alexa

If Spotify is your music app of choice and an Amazon Echo is the speaker you like, here’s how to get Spotify on Alexa to start listening to your tunes.
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Marshall Has A New AirPlay 2 Speaker Out With Alexa Built-In

Marshall's latest little speaker is the Uxbridge Voice, and it has a couple of tricks up its sleeve. Namely, AirPlay 2 and Alexa. Here are the details.


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Get Fit With Video Games, Cheap Windows 10 Upgrades, Google Assistant Reads Aloud

Get the most out of Google Assistant, upgrade to Windows 10 for a discount, and get fit with video games in this week’s podcast. PLUS: learn how to spot Bitcoin email scams, and understand the US Election 2020 better with Alexa.

Christian Cawley is joined by Ben Stegner, James Frew, and Megan Ellis for a show packed with tips and news of new MakeUseOf tech giveaways.

Really Useful Podcast Season 5 Episode 6 Shownotes

This week’s news:

We have a single recommendation this time:

Some tech tips and tricks:

We also take a look at the latest giveaways and reviews:

Leave us a rating or review on iTunes will help us reach more listeners. So you don’t miss a show, subscribe for notifications:

See you next week!

Read the full article: Get Fit With Video Games, Cheap Windows 10 Upgrades, Google Assistant Reads Aloud

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You Can Now Ask Alexa About the US Election

It’s an election year in the United States, with the 2020 US presidential election due to be held on November 3, 2020. A lot needs to happen between now and then, but how are you going to keep up with all of the latest news? Amazon thinks Alexa has the answer(s)…

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Alexa Knows Everything About the 2020 US Elections

In a post on Day One, Amazon details all of the ways you can stay up-to-date on the 2020 US presidential election with Alexa. The company claims that “Alexa has already answered millions of questions on politics since the beginning of the year.”

This is all thanks to “a knowledge graph that utilizes powerful AI and machine learning to encode billions of facts in real time.” Which means that Alexa has “a deep knowledge of election-related information” that you, the voters, can make use of.

Alexa can “share the latest polls, tell you about candidate positions, recap debates, and much more.” With “sources such as the Associated Press, Ballotpedia, RealClearPolitics and Factba.se” all helping to keep Alexa—and subsequently, you—informed.

10 Things to Ask Alexa About the 2020 US Elections

There are a wide range of questions you can ask Alexa about the 2020 US presidential election. And with queries related to the debates, candidates, endorsements, and registering to vote, you don’t even have to wait until polling day to get involved:

  • “Alexa, when is the next debate?”
  • “Alexa, what happened in the last debate?”
  • “Alexa, where does [candidate] stand on [education/healthcare/etc.]?”
  • “Alexa, who endorses [candidate]?”
  • “Alexa, how many delegates does [candidate] have?”
  • “Alexa, who can I vote for in [state]?”
  • “Alexa, how can I register to vote?”
  • “Alexa, when are the polls open?”
  • “Alexa, who won in [state?]”
  • “Alexa, what are the election results today?”

While asking Alexa for the latest news on the election is serious, Amazon’s virtual assistant does claim to have a sense of humor. To test her skills in that department, here are the funniest questions you can ask Alexa. Unless you know of anything funnier.

Image Credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

Read the full article: You Can Now Ask Alexa About the US Election

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How to Play YouTube Videos on Your Amazon Echo

You probably enjoy a variety of audio content on your Amazon Echo device, like music and podcasts. However, due to Amazon and Google’s ongoing tussle, listening to (or watching) YouTube on an Amazon Echo isn’t quite as easy.

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In this article, we’ll show you how to play YouTube videos on an Amazon Echo so you can enjoy YouTube-exclusive music or other content on your smart speaker. We’ll also show you how to watch YouTube videos on your Echo Show.

How to Play YouTube on Amazon Echo Using Bluetooth

As it turns out, you can’t just ask Alexa to play a YouTube video. Instead, you’ll need to pair your phone, tablet, or similar device to your Echo and treat it as a Bluetooth speaker.

Pairing Your Phone With Your Amazon Echo

To do this, start by saying “Alexa, pair Bluetooth”. This will put your Echo into pairing mode. Next, you’ll need to open the Bluetooth pairing settings on your phone.

On Android, you’ll find these at Settings > Connected devices. Hit Pair new device and after a moment, you should see your Echo appear in the list.

On an iPhone, visit Settings > Bluetooth and the device should appear on this page.

Tap it to pair the Echo speaker and your phone. You can provide access to your contacts and call history if prompted, but it’s not necessary.

During our testing, Alexa said that she couldn’t find any devices to pair with. However, they did pair successfully, so don’t despair if you hear this message.

Connect Your Devices to Play YouTube Audio

Once you have the devices paired, you’ll need to connect them to start playing audio through your Echo. To do this, you can say “Alexa, connect Bluetooth”. This will cause your Echo to connect to your phone, since it’s a previously paired device. Alexa will make a sound and say “Now connected to [Device Name]” if it’s successful.

If that doesn’t work, you can connect on your phone. Visit Settings > Connected devices on Android and tap your Echo’s name to connect. You may need to tap See all if you have many devices paired.

On an iPhone, visit Settings > Bluetooth and tap your Echo’s name to connect it.

After you’ve connected your phone and Echo speaker, any media audio you play on your phone will play through the Echo. Now you can open the YouTube app or website and play whatever you’d like to hear. If you own an Echo Dot, you may want to consider buying one of the best Echo Dot speakers to improve the audio quality.

To disconnect, say “Alexa, disconnect Bluetooth”. Alternatively, visit the menus mentioned above and tap the Echo’s name to disconnect it.

Limitations of the Echo as a Bluetooth Speaker

Echo voice commands are limited when you connect via Bluetooth. You can play/pause, skip to the next or previous video, and adjust the audio, but not much else. This isn’t quite as good as native support, but it’s better than nothing.

In addition, using YouTube this way is still subject to YouTube’s normal limitations. Notably, your video will stop if you turn the screen off. To get around this, you may want to consider joining YouTube Premium.

How to Use YouTube on an Echo Using a Workaround

If you’d prefer to better integrate YouTube content and your Amazon Echo, you can use an involved workaround for better control. This requires creating your own Alexa skill and using Google’s developer platform to access videos.

It takes a bit of effort, so check out the below video for a full walkthrough.

How to Watch YouTube Videos on an Echo Show

The above steps are great for listening to YouTube audio on an Echo speaker. But if you have an Echo Show you can watch YouTube videos as well. It only requires a small workaround.

First, if you have a first-generation Echo Show, you should first update it to enable full browsing functionality. Pull down from the top of your devices and go to Settings > Device Options to update the system software.

From there, you can simply say “Alexa, open YouTube”. Assuming it’s the first time you do this, you’ll be asked if you want to use the Silk browser or Firefox by default for this action. Either one works, but if you set Firefox as the browser, you can say this command again to jump right to it.

Once you have YouTube open in the browser, you can navigate just like you have the page open on your computer. Voice commands won’t work, but if you like, you can say “Alexa, play Drew Gooden on YouTube” and she’ll run a search for what you said. This will provide you with an easy shortcut to what you’re looking for.

You Can Now Play YouTube Videos on Your Echo

If you’re a diehard fan of YouTube, the Echo devices probably aren’t the best fit for you. But with these tips, you’ll still be able to listen to or watch YouTube videos on your Amazon Echo using Alexa.

For a full guide to listening to media through Alexa, here are all of the ways to play music using your Amazon Echo.

Read the full article: How to Play YouTube Videos on Your Amazon Echo