Alexa is a virtual assistant that lets you play audio, control your smart home and ask questions. She is based in the cloud and can be accessed from a variety of Amazon devices including Echo and Fire TV. Alexa is smart and learns new things every day.
To use Alexa, you say a designated wake word like “Alexa” or “Hey Alexa.” After hearing the wake word, Alexa will perform functions, such as setting timers, sharing current weather, providing lists and answering general questions. For some requests, Alexa may access third-party services, such as Wolfram Alpha, iMDB, Wikipedia and AccuWeather, for information.
You can also add skills, or snippets of code, to enable Alexa to perform more advanced tasks. Alexa is able to answer a wide variety of questions, from the mundane (“What time is it?”) to the slightly more personal (do you work for the CIA?).
Some people are concerned about Alexa’s privacy. They worry that Alexa is listening to private conversations, recording them and sending them to a company, like Amazon, or storing them without permission. However, Amazon is clear that Alexa is software and not a person. It also offers parents the ability to set child profiles and monitor how much time their children spend using Alexa with the Parent Dashboard. In addition, a family can quickly pause an Alexa device or turn off its microphones using the app or web-based Parent Dashboard. Parents should discuss with their children how Alexa works and how to protect their privacy.