I’ve owned an Amazon Echo for more than a year now, and it’s
completely changed the way I live in my apartment.
Lots of people ask what I love so much about the Echo, and I
always respond with the same answer: It handles simple tasks
I usually ask the Echo for the weather, or to play music, or to
set timers and alarms, and it does those things quickly and
effectively — it’s a huge time saver, and I never have to reach
for my phone.
Recent data from ComScore supports this idea, that most
people tend to use smart speakers like the Echo for basic tasks.
And that’s why the newest update to Amazon’s voice assistant
Alexa is such a big deal: The update, which rolls out Thursday in
the US and is coming to the UK and Germany in the coming weeks,
gives Amazon Echo owners the ability to schedule reminders for
the first time, as well as the ability to name any timers you
These features might sound simple, but they are a big deal.
When I first got my Echo, asking it to set a reminder was one of
the first things I tried, and I was disappointed when it didn’t
work. So I’m thrilled that I can now easily set reminders for
myself from any point in my home, whenever anything occurs to me,
without having to find my phone and manually type it in. Apple’s
Reminders app is already the most-used app on my iPhone, since
I’m constantly setting reminders to run errands, pick up
groceries, pay rent, or get work done; it’s a great way to stay
organized. But now, I won’t have to reach for my phone whenever I
think of a task I need to do later.
Similarly, the new ability to name timers is also a big deal for
me. Hands-down, the most common request I make to my Echo is to
set a timer. When I’m at home, I almost always have multiple
timers running at once, for everything from laundry to kitchen
activities like cooking, baking, thawing, and marinating. Setting
timers on the fly, without using your hands, is incredibly
useful, but I’ve always wished Amazon would let you name the
timers since it’s so easy to have many running at once — and when
one goes off, it’s unclear which timer it was. But now, you can
actually name those timers by simply saying “Alexa, set a chicken
timer,” or “Alexa, set a pasta timer.” Alexa will even let you
know which timer is going off when the time comes.
These new features might seem like two small additions, but if
you own an Amazon Echo or any similar smart speaker, you’ll know
that the best use cases are often the simplest ones.