OK Google, tell Alexa to turn off the lights

After the upcoming holidays, I think half the population will have a voice activated device. Well maybe not half, but Amazon Echo and Google Home devices are turning out to eb one of the hottest tech toys of the decade. Whether a Google Home, Alexa or Siri on your iPhone, these devices have been selling off the virtual shelves all year. Amazon reports that they “sold ‘millions’ of Alexa devices over the holiday shopping weekend.” 

Google reports that 55 percent of teens and 40 percent of adults use voice search daily.

Google’s line of virtual assistants are catching up  with Alexa. Google now has the mini, Home and the Max speaker. Amazons line includes, the Dot, Echo and the Echo Plus. In the big scheme of things they are all pretty equal (although Google Home has tested better). I lean towards Google personally because I have all my life on Google. I’m sure Amazon quality is comparable. There are many reviews you can check out. Below is one.

One cool thing about Google Home

You can add Multiple Users to your Google Home

google homeGoogle Home now supports multiple users, meaning you and your family can use the device.

All you have to do, once another account is attached, is get that person to say “Ok Google” and “Hey Google” a couple of times and Home will be able to tell who’s talking to it.

“From that point on,” says Google, “any time you say “Ok Google” or “Hey Google” to your Google Home, the neural network will compare the sound of your voice to its previous analysis so it can understand if it’s you speaking or not. This comparison takes place only on your device, in a matter of milliseconds.”


One cool thing about Amazon Echo

Most popular Alexa skill? Setting the timer. Second is “Play a song.”

Estimated number of people that own a Echo in 2017 is 8.2 million.

Voice control is the real deal

First let’s make sure your set up.

life with echo and home

Want to know what your virtual assistant can do for your life?

Below are general topics you might use voice commands to accomplish tasks. Home and Echo are linked accordingly.

Watch or listen to media

Home | Echo

Control your TV and audio

Home | Echo

Plan your day

Home | Echo

Get things done

Home | Echo

Get answers

Home | Echo

Control your home

Home | Echo

commands life

Now to get to the nitty gritty. Tell your Google Home or Amazon Echo what to do. Remember to use a normal voice, and make it conversational. Below are a compilation of many commands from several sources. Have fun!

Voice Commands

General information

  • How old is [Neil deGrasse Tyson]?
  • Where was [Louis C.K.] born?
  • Define [colloquial] (Or “What does [colloquial] mean?”)
  • What time is it in [Tokyo]?
  • Search for [photography tips]
  • Show me pictures of [the Leaning Tower of Pisa]
  • Do I need an umbrella today? What’s the weather like? What’s the weather in [New Orleans] [this weekend]?
  • What the [Google] stock price? What is [Apple] trading at?
  • What’s [182 yards] in [miles]? What is [12 ounces] in [liters]?
  • What’s [135] divided by [7.5]? (A great many types of math equations will work.)
  • Search [Tumblr] for [cat pictures] (more apps are added to this search-within-apps function all the time)

Device control

  • Open [greenbot.com]
  • Take a picture (“Take a photo” also works)
  • Record a video
  • Open [Spotify]
  • Turn [on / off] [Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Flashlight]


  • What’s the tip for [123 dollars]?
  • Set an alarm for [6:30 am]
  • Set a timer for [20 minutes]
  • Create a calendar event: [Dinner with Glenda, Saturday at 9pm.]
  • Remind me to [buy coffee at 7am] (try locations! Remind me to [buy coffee filters at Walgreens])
  • What is my schedule for tomorrow? (also: What does my day look like [Friday]?)
  • Where’s my package? (tracking confirmation must be in Gmail)
  • Make a note: [update my router firmware] (also try “Note to self:” This works with multiple apps, and you can even email yourself!)
  • Find [Florence Ion’s] [phone number] (Works with all info in your contacts – addresses, birthdays, etc.)
  • Show me my bills. (or: My bills due this week.)


  • Show me my last messages. (Then follow voice prompts)
  • Call [Jon] (also works with relationships: Call [sister])
  • Call [Cartman] on speakerphone
  • Text [Susie] [great job on that feature yesterday] (also works with relationships: Text [mom] [I’m not going to be able to pick you up from the airport, period, I’m a bad son, period])
  • Send email to [Robert Baratheon], subject, [hunting], message, [I don’t think you should drink so much when you go hunting, period]
  • Post to [Twitter]: [Oh my god the Red Wedding episode!]
  • What is French for [I am Charlie]?
  • [Send a Hangout message] to [Dad].
  • Send a [Viber] message to [Derek]: Hang on, I’m going to get more coffee. (works with WhatsApp, Viber, WeChat, Telegram, and NextPlus)

Navigation and Travel

  • Where is the nearest [sushi restaurant]?
  • Navigate to [Willis Tower, Chicago]
  • Directions to [Fisherman’s Wharf] by [bike] (also try “Directions home” or “How do I get home?”)
  • Where is [the Louvre]?
  • Show me the menu for [Green Chile Kitchen]
  • Call [Asian Art Museum]
  • Show me my flight info
  • Where’s my hotel?
  • What are some attractions around here?
  • How do you say [good night] in [Japanese]?
  • What is [50,000 yen] in [dollars]?
  • What’s the flight status of [United] flight [735]?
  • Show me restaurants near my hotel -or- Give me directions back to my hotel (this works if your hotel confirmation was sent to your gmail account)


  • Play [solitaire] (also try tic-tac-toe)
  • Play some music (opens “I’m feeling lucky” radio station in Google Play Music)
  • Next Song / Pause Song
  • Play [Happy] (songs must be in Google Play Music on your device)
  • Watch [The Lego Movie] (movies and TV must be in your Google Play account)
  • What’s this song?
  • Listen to TV
  • What songs does [Pharrell] sing?
  • Read [Hunger Games]
  • Did the [Giants] win today? What’s the score in the [Warriors] game?
  • What movies are playing [tonight]? Where is [Toy Story] playing?


  • Say a team name to get the latest score during the season.
  • When is the next [Warriors] game?
  • Where are the [Giants] in the [MLB] standings?
  • Who does [LeBron James] play for?
  • Who won [the Superbowl]?
  • When is the [Stanley Cup final]?

Fun hidden stuff

Many of these deliver funny voice responses, but normal search results. Turn up your sound!

  • What sounds does a [tiger] make?
  • Flip a coin
  • Roll dice (rolls a single six-sided die)
  • What is the loneliest number?
  • Do a barrel roll!
  • Askew / Tilt
  • Go go Gadget [Spotify]
  • When am I?
  • Make me a sandwich
  • Sudo make me a sandwich
  • Who’s on first?
  • Up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right
  • Tell me a joke
  • Who are you?
  • Beam me up, Scotty!
  • What is [Jennifer Lawrence’s] Bacon number?

In the spirit of fun, I couldn’t resist putting this video up from Saturday Night Live. It is Alexa for Seniors. This is hilarious.

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