You can chat with Alexa directly from your Windows 10 PC. Learn how to install, customize, and use the Alexa Windows 10 app.
Image: Ry Crist/CNET
You can call onfor help in without an Echo device nearby—the secret lies in Amazon’s Alexa app for Windows. Through this app, you can summon Alexa either by clicking an on-screen button or just saying “Alexa” via a hands-free mode. After Alexa pops up, you can ask questions, request information, check your calendar and other personal services, and access different skills and tasks. You can also tweak various options to control the Alexa app.
Why use Alexa in Windows 10 when Cortana is available?
Maybe you have anthrough which you access your calendar, to-do list, and other information. Maybe you find Alexa more helpful than Cortana. Or maybe you’d just like to try out another voice assistant beyond Cortana. To use the Alexa app, you don’t need an Echo device, but you do need an Amazon account.
How to use the Amazon Alexa app in Windows 10
Download and install the Alexa Windows 10 app from the Microsoft Store. The first time you launch the app, you’re asked to set it up. Click on the button to Set Up Amazon Alexa. Sign in with your Amazon account (if you don’t have one, you can create one on the fly). Click Continue to accept the terms and conditions. Click Continue on the next screen. The app asks for permission to let Alexa access your microphone—click Yes to accept.
SEE: Getting started with Alexa development (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
The next screen asks if you want to use Alexa hands-free or by clicking a button. The hands-free option is easier since you can trigger Alexa by voice, just as you do with an Echo device, but this may chew up more battery power because the app is always listening. Choose either option—you can always change it later in the app (Figure A).
What can you ask the Alexa app?
In the Alexa app, you can request many (but not all) of the same things you might request of Alexa through an Echo device. You can ask for location-based information, such as the weather or local restaurants. You can request your personal information, such as appointments and to-do list. You can conduct research on general topics. You can request music and other content. You can tap into the vast array of Alexa Skills.
There are some limitations; for instance, you can’t ask Alexa to compose a text message or a new email, though you can ask the app to access your inbox to reply to an existing email.
To see a few examples of things you can ask, tap the entry in the app for Things To Try—that brings you to an Amazon web page with phrases, questions, and other tasks that the app can handle. From this page, you can also view and set up otherand features, such as music, lists, reminders, contacts, and smart home (Figure D).