This Practical 'Alexa' Superpower Will Make Your Day

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Amazon Echo voice assistant, better known as Alexa, is a productivity device. Sure, Amazon built it to get you to buy more goods, play more music (and someday buy their music streaming service), but it is so much more. Plus, it gets better all the time. My favorite Alexa function is where you can connect the device to schedule appointments in your Google Calendar.

First, why connect the Amazon Alexa to your Calendar?

Well, it is like having a personal assistant to handle your admin functions. It rocks. I have worked on teams where there was one person who served in this role, but not very often and not as seamlessly as an artificial agent. I don't know that humans really love being used in this capacity anyway, so it is one of the best ways to get basic tasks done.

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This function works on Google Calendar, Apple Calendar, and Microsoft Calendar (it will also work with Microsoft Exchange but only if you are using Alexa for Business). If you have not yet tried voice assistants, such as, Siri on Apple/iOS or the Google Assistant on Android devices, you are missing a huge productivity tool. It takes a little getting used to the idea of speaking your appointments (or your shopping list or requesting music) to the artificial intelligence we only knew in Star Trek, but once you do it, for most people I know who use it, no turning back.

I set up Google Calendar within hours of setting up the Amazon Echo almost three years ago and use it constantly. I also use the Google Assistant on my Samsung phone, too, when I’m not around Alexa. As a gear guy, I also use it with the Google Home (which is slightly more intuitive and responsive than the Echo for a Google Calendar user). But the Alexa sits in the living room and is accessible at odd hours when I remember something I need to do during the week.

As with many of the Echo functions, including skills (which are roughly the equivalent of “apps” everywhere else), you have to access this setup area via smartphone, on the Amazon Alexa App. In the upper left corner of the your screen, you will see three little lines. Those open up the various admin options for the app leading you ultimately to the specific calendar you want to connect to Alexa (four shown below).

Amazon Alexa App on iPad for Google Calendar setup Photo by TJ McCue

Open the Alexa mobile app, click the menu button, then select “Settings.” Scroll down until you get to “Email & Calendar” (under Alexa Preferences). Then, click "Add Account" and the next prompt will ask you if you want to connect your account to Alexa. It then takes you to your Google (or Apple or Microsoft) to allow you to authorize it via that service directly. Dual authentication, so to speak. NOTE: If you already added your email in another account setup area, it may display your email and calendar as an option because you previously linked your account to Alexa. If so, you will immediately see the calendars you have under your account and can check the ones you want to link.

Now we are to the fun part, after everything is set up, you can create a new appointment on your calendar by simply saying, "Alexa, add to my calendar."

Alexa is smart enough to recognize a variety of opening requests, such as, "Alexa, schedule Lunch with Charlie on Tuesday at 1pm." Or, "Alexa, create an appointment," and the assistant will ask you follow-up questions, such as, "Sure, what day and time?" and after you share those data points, it will followup again,"And what's the name of the event?" You respond. Alexa says: "I'll schedule Lunch with Charlie on Wed at 1pm. Okay?" Then I have to confirm with okay or yes.

You can also ask it to tell you what you have on your calendar for the day or week and it will list them off for you. Sweet. Once you get in the hang of it, I guarantee you will use it often. If you want a bit more of the ways Alexa keeps evolving, read the Amazon Help page: Manage Calendar Events with Alexa.

If you have an Alexa tip or hack that you love, or a general life hack or how-to that makes you more productive, share it with me via email or social.

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You likely already know that the Amazon Echo voice assistant, better known as Alexa, is a productivity device. Sure, Amazon built it to get you to buy more goods, play more music (and someday buy their music streaming service), but it is so much more. Plus, it gets better all the time. My favorite Alexa function is where you can connect the device to schedule appointments in your Google Calendar.

First, why connect the Amazon Alexa to your Calendar?

Well, it is like having a personal assistant to handle your admin functions. It rocks. I have worked on teams where there was one person who served in this role, but not very often and not as seamlessly as an artificial agent. I don't know that humans really love being used in this capacity anyway, so it is one of the best ways to get basic tasks done.

Getty

This function works on Google Calendar, Apple Calendar, and Microsoft Calendar (it will also work with Microsoft Exchange but only if you are using Alexa for Business). If you have not yet tried voice assistants, such as, Siri on Apple/iOS or the Google Assistant on Android devices, you are missing a huge productivity tool. It takes a little getting used to the idea of speaking your appointments (or your shopping list or requesting music) to the artificial intelligence we only knew in Star Trek, but once you do it, for most people I know who use it, no turning back.

I set up Google Calendar within hours of setting up the Amazon Echo almost three years ago and use it constantly. I also use the Google Assistant on my Samsung phone, too, when I’m not around Alexa. As a gear guy, I also use it with the Google Home (which is slightly more intuitive and responsive than the Echo for a Google Calendar user). But the Alexa sits in the living room and is accessible at odd hours when I remember something I need to do during the week.

As with many of the Echo functions, including skills (which are roughly the equivalent of “apps” everywhere else), you have to access this setup area via smartphone, on the Amazon Alexa App. In the upper left corner of the your screen, you will see three little lines. Those open up the various admin options for the app leading you ultimately to the specific calendar you want to connect to Alexa (four shown below).

Amazon Alexa App on iPad for Google Calendar setup Photo by TJ McCue

Open the Alexa mobile app, click the menu button, then select “Settings.” Scroll down until you get to “Email & Calendar” (under Alexa Preferences). Then, click "Add Account" and the next prompt will ask you if you want to connect your account to Alexa. It then takes you to your Google (or Apple or Microsoft) to allow you to authorize it via that service directly. Dual authentication, so to speak. NOTE: If you already added your email in another account setup area, it may display your email and calendar as an option because you previously linked your account to Alexa. If so, you will immediately see the calendars you have under your account and can check the ones you want to link.

Now we are to the fun part, after everything is set up, you can create a new appointment on your calendar by simply saying, "Alexa, add to my calendar."

Alexa is smart enough to recognize a variety of opening requests, such as, "Alexa, schedule Lunch with Charlie on Tuesday at 1pm." Or, "Alexa, create an appointment," and the assistant will ask you follow-up questions, such as, "Sure, what day and time?" and after you share those data points, it will followup again,"And what's the name of the event?" You respond. Alexa says: "I'll schedule Lunch with Charlie on Wed at 1pm. Okay?" Then I have to confirm with okay or yes.

You can also ask it to tell you what you have on your calendar for the day or week and it will list them off for you. Sweet. Once you get in the hang of it, I guarantee you will use it often. If you want a bit more of the ways Alexa keeps evolving, read the Amazon Help page: Manage Calendar Events with Alexa.

If you have an Alexa tip or hack that you love, or a general life hack or how-to that makes you more productive, share it with me via email or social.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website.

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