11 Amazing Alexa-Compatible Products That Obey Your Voice Commands

Amazon's home assistant
Amazon's home assistant
Amazon

Amazon's Alexa platform—the main selling point of its Echo and Echo Dot smart speakers—is turning the sci-fi fantasy of the voice-controlled home into a reality. Sync these gadgets to your Echo and start barking orders at your locks, your lights, and even your Wi-Fi router. 

1. GARAGE DOOR OPENER; $95

Garage door opener

Is it lazy to ask Alexa if the garage is closed, instead of stepping outside to check? Of course, but that simple, nightly confirmation—with no slippers or bathrobe required—is exactly why a smart garage door opener could become one of your most cherished gadgets.

Find it: Amazon

2. THERMOSTAT; $245

Nest thermometer

The initial appeal of internet-connected thermostats was the ability to adjust and program temperatures with a phone. Alexa takes that a step further, letting you turn the heat up or down with your voice, or even let the thermostat know you're leaving, so there's no delay in switching to an energy-saving “away” mode.

Find it: Amazon

3. LOCK; $280

Touchscreen handles

The appeal here is similar to the garage door opener: instant, voice-activated peace of mind. You can ask Alexa to check that your smart lock is engaged, and to lock it if it isn't already. And not to worry, a random line of TV dialogue won't leave the door unlocked, since you can't actually disengage the lock via Alexa voice command.

Find it: Amazon

4. LIGHT BULB; $70

Smart lightbulb

Add smart LED bulbs to your Wi-Fi network, and wow guests with one of the cooler, the-future-is-now Alexa tricks: asking the lights to turn on, turn off, or go dimmer or brighter.

Find It: Amazon

5. WALL SOCKET; $40

Smart white wall socket

Though not quite as fun as a full-fledged smart bulb, a smart plug is often more affordable, and gives you basic voice control (no dimming, for example) over whatever's plugged into it. This usually means a lamp, but it's possible to cut the power to other devices—such as a TV—in dramatic, hands-free fashion.

Find it: Amazon

6. BLUETOOTH LOCATOR; $28

Orange Bluetooth locator

The premise of Bluetooth locators is ingenious: You clip or stick a tiny doodad to the objects you can never seem to keep track of, then use your phone to trigger a telltale ping the next time said object goes missing. But what happens when it's your phone that's gone AWOL? By syncing trackers to your Echo, you can ask Alexa to sound their alarm, no phone or other intermediary device needed.

Find It: Amazon

7. WI-FI ROUTER; $160

A wi-fi router with three antennae

Ok, this is an obscure use of Alexa, but also a pretty neat one. A select number of Wi-Fi routers can respond to voice commands that range from the very nerdy (asking for current Wi-Fi settings) to the genuinely handy, such as rebooting the router to clear up random connection issues, or activating a guest network when friends and family drop by.

Find It: Amazon

8. ESSENTIAL OIL DIFFUSER; $57

Blue oil diffuser

Like most smart appliances, internet-connected essential oil diffusers tend to require their own, purpose-built phone or tablet app to be controlled remotely. But when company shows up without warning, instead of fumbling through an app on the way to the door, you can just ask Alexa to get the aromatherapy party started (though not in those exact words).

Find It: Amazon

9. SPRINKLER CONTROLLER; $200


Smart sprinkler controllers are a minor miracle, letting you fine-tune when and how much water you apply to your lawn and/or garden. Alexa makes that interaction a little less fussy, accepting quick commands to pause the sprinklers for a set amount of time, activate specific zones, or delay the entire system because of rain.

Find It: Amazon

10. VIDEO DOORBELL; $200


The interaction between Alexa and video doorbells is small, but indispensable. You can ask Alexa to take a picture of the front door, or start recording live video, in case that strange noise outside is worth investigating or documenting.

Find It: SkyBell

11. SMART HOME HUB; $48


We saved the best, but also the most complicated Alexa-compatible gadget, for last. Many smart home products either require a central, Wi-Fi-connected hub to be controlled remotely, or are simply easier to control with one (meaning you can use a single app instead of multiple ones). Smart hubs, in other words, are for true smart home believers, and Alexa only increases the appeal of these device-wrangling products. A synced-up Echo allows for a wide array of voice commands, from controlling lights to activating the air-conditioning, all without reaching for a phone or tablet. For now, this is the closest you'll get to the voice-activated robo-houses that science fiction promised us.

Find It: Amazon

Still Struggling to Solve a Rubik’s Cube? There’s an App for That

francisgonsa, iStock via Getty Images
francisgonsa, iStock via Getty Images

Solving a Rubik's Cube is an easy way to impress your friends, but you don't need to be a math genius to crack the algorithm. With help from this app spotted by Lifehacker, you don't even need to memorize any tricks.

The Magic Cube Solver is a free app for iOS that calculates the fastest route to solving a Rubik's Cube based on its current pattern. To use it, start by inputting your cube's information by tapping the squares in the app's model and selecting the right colors. Hit "solve" and the tool will display step-by-step visual instructions you can follow to complete the puzzle. The stages are all laid out together and each one comes with a picture of what the cube looks like before and after you make your move, making it easy to follow along. No matter what configuration you're starting with, Magic Cube Solver will show you how to solve it in no more than 22 steps.

The app acts as more than a cheat to a particularly hard pattern. If you're interested in boosting your Rubik's Cube skills, you can select the "solve and learn" option after entering your information. This not only shows you the steps to take to solve it, but why it suggests those steps in the first place. Rather than applying a one-size-fits-all trick to every cube configuration, which isn't always efficient, Magic Cube Solver will teach how to recognize different patterns and show you which tricks work best for each one. The ultimate goal is to equip you with the skills you need to solve any Rubik's Cube without the app's help.

Magic Cube Solve is available to download from the App Store for free. The free version only shows you how to solve the classic three-by-three square cube. Solutions for two-by-two, four-by-four, and void cubes cost extra. To learn more about the Rubik's Cube and its origins, check out our list.

[h/t Lifehacker]

Sprint Will Fix the Cracked Screen on Your Samsung Galaxy for $49—Even if They're Not Your Carrier

SergeyChayko/iStock via Getty Images
SergeyChayko/iStock via Getty Images

In a move designed to engender some consumer goodwill, phone service carrier Sprint recently announced that it will repair cracked Samsung Galaxy smartphone screens for a set price of $49. And this time, the fine print works in the consumer’s favor. You don’t need to be a Sprint phone plan customer in order to take advantage of the deal.

The program’s website has the details, but it’s a relatively straightforward offer. If you have a damaged Galaxy screen, you can have it repaired regardless of your carrier through February 9, 2020. (The newest Galaxy S10 model is not included in the offer, but it should still be under warranty.)

Here are the eligible phones:

  • Samsung Galaxy S7
  • Samsung Galaxy S8
  • Samsung Galaxy S8+
  • Samsung Galaxy S9
  • Samsung Galaxy S9+
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8

According to Android Authority, this is actually a pretty good deal as Samsung screen repairs can cost you over $200. You’ll have to take the still-working phone into a Sprint store with repair services in order to take advantage of the offer. (And presumably, be tempted into switching to Sprint if you’re not already a customer.) If the device cannot be repaired, Sprint will give you $150 in store credit toward a new phone. You can find a list of repair locations by here.

[h/t Engadget]

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