Your Amazon Echo is really good at giving you up-to-the-minute weather, traffic reports, and sports updates, but only if you help it out a bit by tweaking the device settings. Here’s how to fine-tune them.
In our guide to setting up the Echo, we got you up and running with the Echo and Alexa, Amazon’s voice-summoned personal digital assistant. We showed off many Alexa tricks in that tutorial, but we didn’t dive too deeply into the local weather, traffic reports, and sports features. Unlike the tricks that work right out of the box (like asking Alexa science questions or for measurement conversions), the weather, traffic, and sports features work best when you’ve actively fine tuned them to you location, your specific commute, and your favorite teams.
How to Configure The Echo’s Geographic Settings
For the purposes of this tutorial, we’re going to configure the Echo for an imagined owner who lives in Beverly Hills, CA, commutes to the University of California Los Angeles campus, and is actually a transplant from the Midwest who follows his Minneapolis hometown sports teams very closely.
Open the app or web page and use the left-hand menu to select “Settings”. Once in the settings menu, we can easily navigate to the necessary sub-menus.
Let’s start with adjusting the weather settings because, unlike traffic and sports, it’s the least intuitive of them all. Unlike the other two options, the weather forecast doesn’t have it’s own specifically named menu category and is instead found in the general settings of the Echo.
To find the weather settings, navigate to Settings > [Your Name]’s Echo. In the second section of the general Echo settings menu, you’ll find “Device location”. Our zip code was, curiously, in the general geographic region we live in but not the zip code of our billing address/residence.
Click the “Edit” link and, as seen above, edit in your address. We entered a full street address (as this entry can potentially be used by other future Echo features), but a zip code is sufficient for accurate weather updates.
Once configured you can say “Alexa, weather update” or some variation like “Alexa, how’s the weather?” and you’ll get the current weather for your zip code as well as a forecast. In addition to the verbal feedback, Alexa will also push the information as an update card in the Alexa app (as seen above).
The traffic report section is a little bit more straight forward, as there is a clear “Traffic” entry in the settings menu. Navigate there via Settings > Traffic.
Inside the Traffic menu, the “From” section should be pre-populated with mailing address in your Amazon account. If that address is not pre-populated, or if you wish to use a different address, click “Change address” and edit it.
After that, click “Add address” in the “To” section to designate your destination. If you regularly make stops on the way to your destination you can click the “Add stop” box to add in one or more additional stops on your route.
Once this section is configured you can say “Alexa, traffic update” and Alexa will respond both with a verbal response indicating the fastest route to your destination and the estimated commute time, as well as entering the route information and alternative routes as a card in the Alexa app.
Just like the traffic settings, the sports setting has a dedicated menu; you can find it at Settings > Sports Update.
Inside the Sports Update section, you’ll find a search box. You can input the actual team name, the city, or the state that hosts the team. In the case of our transplanted Midwesterner who wants to follow all his hometown teams, it makes the most sense to just search for Minnesota.
Although we’re using all teams from the same region, you can just as easily mix and match teams by using multiple searches. Once you’ve selected the teams you want to keep up with, you can use a variety of commands with Alexa to get sports updates.
If you ask for a general update via “Alexa, sports updates”, she will tell you about the most recent games for the in-season teams you follow. You can also ask for specific sports updates like “Alexa, how are the Vikings doing?” and she will give you information about the last game they played in and when, if applicable, they are playing next. As with weather and traffic updates, Alexa will create a card with related information, as seen above, after your verbal query.
With a little bit of fine tuning your Echo will be perfectly dialed into your locale, your personal commute, and your favorite sports teams with Alexa always ready to keep you abreast of all three.
Image credit Unsplash.