I’m having a blast telling Alexa what to play from Spotify.
I said I was never going to buy a computer until you could talk to one.
That was thirty years ago.
I fell into the computer revolution and haven’t exited since, I love the stimulation at my fingertips, but I still don’t use Siri, I don’t have time for that many corrections.
But Alexa gets it right.
I never would have purchased this product if Gary Dell’Abate hadn’t raved about it. That’s right, Gadget Gary, the producer of the Howard Stern show. I saw him at Musicares and he couldn’t stop raving, said I had to get one.
But then the buzz started to spread. Felice ordered one for my birthday.
But it took weeks to arrive.
That’s right, despite living in an on demand economy, that which is desirable is unattainable, whether it be concert tickets or the latest technology.
But I could wait.
I’ve still been waiting. Dealing with my shoulder trauma I didn’t want to delve into Echoland. Because you know how it is with new equipment, setup is never seamless, you’ve got to dedicate hours, and oftentimes you’re in the middle of it after midnight, knowing you should go to bed but unable to until you solve this problem.
My Echo wouldn’t work.
It comes with a short cord. I don’t know if they’re saving money or if there’s an issue of signal loss or… But all I know is I couldn’t put the Echo just anywhere. And after setting it up…nothing. You’re supposed to get colors atop the cylinder. I felt like calling Amazon, I never call for tech help, it’s a waste of time, you can find out the answer easier and quicker online. And the last time I called Applecare… The person had an accent and she couldn’t solve my problem and despite taking my phone number we got disconnected and she didn’t call back. My problem is still unsolved… It’s about synching the keychain over multiple devices, so your passwords will appear on your iPhone and vice versa. And yes, I called Applecare last, after troubleshooting myself, but on the forums everybody was tearing their hair out, everybody was having the same problem, like I said, I still am.
But Amazon is the new Apple.
How do I know?
The Echo came with almost no instructions. Simple packaging. Not a work of art, like Jobs’s creations, but far from the old Microsoft where there’s so much info you’re inundated.
Turned out the Echo wasn’t plugged in. I know, I know, TECH 101! But it’s not that I hadn’t plugged it in, but the plug had slipped out. I thought of this before I called, I’m not a complete nitwit. And then the lights started to swirl and I hooked it up to the wifi and Alexa was alive.
But she wasn’t loud enough.
A little research told me to twist her dial. Maybe that’s what the remote is for, the one that no longer is included because most people don’t use it.
And after asking Alexa a few questions, I hooked up my Spotify account.
Credit the Swedish streaming company. They’re horrible marketers, but great technologists. They’re on the Alexa bandwagon early, Apple Music can’t even get out of its own way. You’re following the buzz, right? That despite the number of subscribers analysts are pooh-poohing them, saying with this number of Apple accounts, with this number of credit card numbers, the adoption rate should be higher. But if you can use Apple Music you’re not using much of it. The interface is counterintuitive, a mess. And there’s no free tier.
You can’t use Spotify with Echo unless you have premium, that is you pay…
But it didn’t work anyway.
Ah, A GLITCH!
Back to Safari for research.
Needless to say, I was not the only one with this problem. And after reading arcane solutions the one that made sense was to wait, that Alexa needed to download a firmware update, and within an hour Spotify would work.
And I’ve been having fun ever since.
You see Alexa cuts out a step. Before the Echo, you had to think of a track and then find it, click it and play it. Dealing with Spotify’s inefficient search field along the way, that’s somewhere where Apple is better.
But now… You just say the name of the track and act, tell Alexa you want to hear it via Spotify, and she cues it right up.
What do I want to hear?
I pulled up the Beatles, Andrew Bird, Blondie Chaplin, Simon & Garfunkel. Even Billy Joe Royal’s “Down In The Boondocks.” My mood would change, my synapses would fire, I’d think of a song and there it was.
And she rarely got it wrong.
Now it’s not only Gary Dell’Abate. I follow Katie Boehret, the tech reporter, and on Friday she tweeted:
“We parked our car tonight and my 2 1/2-y-o son said, ‘Alexa, turn off!'”
Hysterical, I know.
But the truth is the younger generation never knows what it missed, it’s not locked into the past. Boomers think music is made on guitars, millennials think it’s made on laptops.
Voice activation is finally here. There are still a few things to figure out. But never underestimate the power of convenience.
You’re gonna own an Echo, you just don’t know it yet.