Customizing and Using the Echo Show

Personalizing the Echo Show to enhance your lifestyle

Amazon Echo Show Video Calling Display
Amazon Echo Show Video Calling Display.

Amazon

The Amazon Echo Show provides a lot of customization options that go well beyond the basic setup.

With both advanced settings and add-on Alexa Skills, you can change your device location, manage your calendar, get weather information for any location around the world, and fine-tune accessibility features for hearing- or vision-impaired users.

Here are some details on key ways to customize the Echo Show to work for you.

Beyond Basic Settings

Here are ways you can fine-tune your settings.

  • Device Location: As a result of the initial setup process, the Echo Show knows your location, time zone, and other details. However, if you would like to manually change your location, all you have to do is tell Alexa to "Go to settings" or select Settings using the touch screen. Next, select Device Options > Device Location, and use the on-screen keyboard to enter a new physical address.
  • Calendar: One of the great things about the Echo Show is that you can use it to organize your periodic household, shopping, travel, business, or vacation events. On the Echo Show, tell Alexa to "Show me my Calendar." Once your calendar appears on the screen you can command Alexa to "Add an event to my calendar" or "delete my event."
  • Weather and Other Information: For the Echo Show, saying "Show me the weather" will display weather information similar to what you would see on a web page. By default, the weather information will correspond to the location of your Echo Show. However, you can find out the weather for any location by providing Alexa with the city, state, or country in question. You also ask the Echo Show to display weather information for the next day or other days if the information is available. You can also further customize the weather information feature to display temperatures in either Fahrenheit or Celsius.

In addition to weather, you can use the Echo Show to provide Traffic information and Sports updates, which can be displayed on the Echo Show screen.

  • Accessibility: The Echo Show provides several options to enhance accessibility for those who are either hearing- or vision-impaired. For the hearing-impaired, you can activate Closed Captioning for supported content via the onscreen menu settings. Using the Message Touch feature, you can view transcripts of voice messages. For the vision-impaired, the Echo Show provides a Screen Magnifier that can be controlled by physical gestures. Color Inversion is handy when you prefer white text over a black background, and Color Correction can optimize the display to compensate for varying degrees of Color Blindness.

Fine Tuning Video Features

Since the Echo Show has a screen, you can watch videos, TV shows, and movies via Amazon Video and other streaming services.

On September 26, 2017, Google pulled official YouTube video support from the Echo Show (as well as Amazon FireTV products). As a workaround, Amazon takes you to the Firefox or Silk web browser version of the service.

If you subscribe to Amazon Prime (including any Amazon streaming channels, such as HBO, Showtime, Starz, Cinemax, and others), you can ask the Echo Show to "Show me my video library" or "...watch list". You can also verbally search for a specific movie, TV series, actor, or genre.

Playback can be controlled by verbal commands, including the ability to play, pause, skip ahead, or rewind in stated time increments. You can also command the Echo Show to go to the next episode if you're watching a TV series.

Another interesting video playback feature is "Daily Briefings." This option displays short, timely video news clips with the command "Alexa, tell me the news." Searching a listing of news sources that you can customize, the Echo Show will start showing short video news clips. Content participants that you can select from include CNN, Bloomberg, CNBC, People Magazine, and NBC.

Although you can view video clips, trailers, movies, and TV shows from select services on the Echo Show screen, the Echo Show cannot share that content to a larger screen. Also, the Echo Show does not provide access to all of the app selections offered on Amazon Fire TV devices. However, you can tell Alexa to tell a Fire TV device what to show on your TV, in place of a Fire TV remote.

Fine Tuning Music Features

Just as with other Echo smart speakers, the Echo Show can find and play music. Just ask the Echo Show to play a song, artist, or genre. If you subscribe to Prime Music, you can command the Echo Show to play music from that source, with such commands as "Play rock from Prime Music" or "Play top 40 hits from Prime Music".

You can verbally command the Echo Show to "raise the volume," "stop the music," "pause," "go to next song," or "repeat this song."

In addition to the above playback options, you can view Album/Artist art and song lyrics on the Echo Show screen. You can turn music lyric display on or off with simple Alexa commands, or tap the Lyrics icon shown on the screen.

If you have multiple Echos in your home, calling them all Alexa may get confusing. You can change what you call the Echo to prevent confusion.

Alexa Skills That Are Great to Use on an Echo Show

  • Shopping: Using the touchscreen or Alexa commands, you can search for an item, such as "order an HDMI cable" or "order a broom." The screen will then display Amazon's top-rated products in your search category. If you want to see more options, you can command the Echo Show to "show more" or "show me more" or swipe the touchscreen. If you need more information on specific products, just say "select number [1, 2, 3, whatever]." Once you have made your choice, you can select and buy it buy saying "buy this" and then following the checkout and payment procedures.

Although you can purchase items individually, the Echo Show will not allow you to purchase multiple items on an existing Amazon Shopping Cart.

  • Alexa Calling and Messaging: To use Alexa Calling and Messaging with the Echo Show, first you need to use the Alexa App to establish your contact list. You can add or subtract contacts as needed. For voice-only calling or messaging, you can use the Echo Show to call or message anyone that has a compatible device with the Alexa App installed. You can also use Alexa to make free outgoing phone calls to anyone in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. However, this feature does not support calling 911 and only those on your Amazon contact list can initiate calls to your Echo Show.
    • For video calling, both parties need to have an Echo Show. To make a video call, you can command the Echo Show by saying something like, "Alexa, call Mom." You can also make audio-only calls to any compatible Echo, or audio-with-video calls to those with an Echo Show. You always have the option to make audio-only calls with the Echo Show.
    • You can enable Drop-in for any person on your contact list or for any Echo devices in your house. With Drop-in, you can instantly connect to any Echo or Echo Show device on your list without using the phone. You do not need anyone on the other end to acknowledge your "call." You can disable the video portion of the feed by saying "video off" or by touching the video on/off icon on the Echo Show touchscreen. You can drop in at any time by saying "hang up" or by touching the end button on the Echo Show touchscreen.
    • Needless to say, Drop-in is somewhat controversial, as you can check-in or "spy" on a person or the location of any Echo or Echo Show device in your list, and you don't need acknowledgment from the recipient. However, a brief musical tone does sound on the receiving end that can be heard if the person being dropped in on is close enough to hear it.
  • Food Network and Allrecipes: Get some inspiration from the Food Network or Allrecipes with Echo Show skills. Once enabled, you can say, "Alexa, ask Food Network what's on right now." Depending on your request, you can view photos and recipes, or choose from a listing of cooking videos. For All Recipes, you can say "Alexa, open Allrecipes." If you have something more specific in mind, you can say, "Alexa, ask AllRecipes for a roast beef recipe." You will be able to view photos of the completed dish, along with the recipe. However, AllRecipes, at this time, does not provide video clips.
  • Uber: You can use the Echo Show to reserve an Uber ride with the popular transportation service. Just enable the Uber skill and say, "Alexa, ask Uber to request a ride."
  • Smart Home Control: Just like other Echo devices, the Echo Show can function as the control center for your home. You can use the Echo Show to lock and unlock doors, set thermostats for areas of the home, control room lighting, or monitor your home like a security camera. The Echo Show can also provide limited control of compatible home entertainment devices, including TVs, home theater receivers, motorized wall mounts, and more. You may need to use a compatible remote control device, such as the Logitech Harmony to utilize this function. However, additional control accessories and home entertainment devices may be necessary to make full use of the Echo's smart home features.