Won an Alexa or Google Nest? How to play Freep and more

Darcie Moran

| Detroit Free Press


Who knew Santa Claus was so sophisticated?

If you are carefully under your tree this Christmas day, wrapped up for the Kwanzaa or taken out of the Hanukkah box with a Google Assistant or an Amazon Alexa smart speaker device, your head may be spinning.

These assistants can do many things, but you need to know what they can do to ask.

Here are some vacation tips for roasting chestnuts for your new Amazon Alexa or Google Home / Nest device:

Give a hug – safely

Due to the new coronavirus, it’s not the time to hug your 90-year-old grandmother. But you can still send her a hug, virtually.

Will it smell like freshly baked cookies and bring the comfort of matriarchal love? Do not.

Could that make you smile? Perhaps!

Alexa will convey the feeling if Grandma also has a device.

Both Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa can also send normal, non-hug messages between devices. They can also make phone calls on demand.

More: ‘Alexa, call 911’ does not work. Here’s what’s going on

More: Smart uses for Amazon Echo – and security steps you can’t skip


If you want to keep having fun with the kids, but you’re so full that you can’t move after the holiday meal, just yell at your Alexa or Google device and let it do whatever it wants.

For Amazon Alexa: Play Jeopardy! or play Escape the Room or investigate the murder of Batman’s parents with “The Wayne Investigation” or be classified in a house at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry or throw curiosities or ask a question to a crystal ball.

For a Google Assistant: Play Jeopardy! or play Riddle Room or Freeze Dance (both self-explanatory by name) or be classified in a Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry or play some curiosities or ask a question to a crystal ball.

Clean your house

Look, mom, no hands, no dust or work.

If you have a robotic vacuum cleaner like a Roomba, it sure is sophisticated, but it also has a great way to use your new gadget.

Attach the vacuum cleaner to the device, say “Hey Google, tell Roomba to start cleaning” and then put your feet on the ground and see how productive you are while watching something about Christmas, a prince and an alternate universe without mask on the Hallmark Canal.

turns on

Your car. Your lights. Your thermostat. Your TV. Your inner diva as you whisper softly, “There’s no need to lift a finger.”

Depending on the smart devices in your home, they can be paired with your new voice-activated butler.

In addition, you can access applications from any of the devices and set up “routines” to start automatically depending on your location (say, when you get home), time of day (say, a groggy morning) or depending on you say (say, “Hey Alexa, I’m going to have a snack” to pause the TV and turn on the lights in the middle of the TV binge).

More: Do you have an Echo device? 5 security settings to check now

Improve holiday music

The holidays don’t end until you say they’re over. Use Bluetooth to pair your Alexa or Google device with a better speaker, or just use the device’s own speaker and play Michael Bublé, Bing Crosby or Julie Silver however you want.

ADVICE: Singing at the top of your lungs can make neighbors knock on your door and break quarantine conditions. Sing out of tune at your own risk.

Having a chat

Despite this year of isolation, you can stop talking to yourself. Or not. But now you have an automated device to respond. (In addition, probably other family members alone at home as well. Call your mom.)

Alexa or Google can tell a joke, update you on the weather, answer life’s questions, provide a sports scoreboard or advise on a variety of topics. Just like Dad.

Find things

Tell your device where you hid the terrible porcelain dog statue that your adorable but misguided great aunt Muriel gave you this Christmas and ask where the gift is before it arrives next Christmas. The device will tell you where to look.

This also works for a passport or keys.

Devices can also call your phone when you are late and your phone is hiding, again.

Buy stuff

Your online shopping habit is now, perhaps dangerously, even easier.

With your Alexa linked to your Amazon or Google Nest account set up with an in-app payment, you can shout a purchase and, almost magically, a charge will appear on your credit card and a package will arrive at your door.

If that horrifies you, you can turn it off to avoid making wrong purchases.

Use the timer while cooking

Of course, you can only set an alarm manually. You can just keep an eye on the clock, like old times.

But there is real pleasure in dipping your elbows in the dough, with your kitchen covered in flour, when you realize that the turkey in your oven is going to be a piece of blackened rubber if you don’t set the timer that second and then just saying, “Alexa, set the alarm to 4 hours from now”.

It’s like you have a deputy boss, or a maid, or your act together, and it’s beautiful.

This function is also available for decent chefs, anyone without a pen who needs a reminder and anyone who just needs an alarm clock.

You can ask Google Nest to wake you up at a certain time on a particular melody.

Get a recipe

Google Assistants and Amazon Alexa devices can read recipes for you.

Again, a solid option for the pastry-covered baker.

Listen to the news …

… Like the Detroit Free Press.

We are biased in this case, but Free Press is in the audio and is very good if we say it (and we just said it).

Say, “Alexa, play the Detroit Free Press news” or “OK ​​Google, play me from Detroit Free Press” and start the day by listening to the reporters themselves about what you need to know.

You can also listen to briefings from various news organizations, including Free Press, by selecting them from the device apps on your phone and asking.

Follow these steps to ensure that Free Press will play on your Google device:

  • Go to the Google Assistant app.
  • Select your profile.
  • Taps News.
  • Search for “freep.com” in the Add Source bar.
  • Touch the star.
  • Say, “Ok Google, play the news.”

Follow these steps to ensure that Free Press will play on your Amazon device:

  • Access the Amazon Alexa app.
  • Go to the settings. “
  • Click on “news”.
  • Touch “flash briefing”.
  • Enable Detroit Free Press.
  • Say, “Alexa, reproduce my quick instructions.”

If you don’t have a device, you can still play it through the device’s apps on your phone.

Get some entertainment (this list of tips, for example) along with hard-hitting investigations, an update on where the COVID-19 cases are, details on the latest Detroit Lions loss and tales of political upheaval supporting local journalists on guard for 189 years.

Darcie Moran is a breaking news reporter and podcaster for the Detroit Free Press. Contact Moran: [email protected]. Twitter: @darciegmoran.

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