Echo Dots

Echo Dots Available For Listeners to Try Out

Sheffield Talking News has five Echo Dots to offer to listeners to try out on our behalf. Echo Dots are small, compact smart speakers provided by Amazon that work with its Alexa voice assistant system. We want to know about listeners’ experiences of using these handy devices.

If you don’t know about them, smart speakers (also known as voice assistants) allow you to control what you listen to entirely by voice command. So for example simply by saying, ‘Alexa, open My Talking Newspaper’ the Echo Dot will steer you to the latest edition of Sheffield Talking News. Similarly, you can listen to the Talk About magazine or editions of ‘Out and About’ in Sheffield, as well as dipping into a whole wealth of other great audio material freely available on the internet.

The arrangement is that we will provide you with the Echo Dot. To use it you will need WiFi with an internet connection in your home and it will be your responsibility to set up the Echo device. For this you will need a mobile

phone with the Alexa app installed. If this sounds a bit daunting you may have a friendly neighbour or a relative who can do it for you. It’s quite a straightforward operation and you can scroll down this page for instructions on how to do it.

Once set-up we hope you will be explore the world Alexa opens up for you, including listening to Sheffield Talking News. After a few weeks we will contact you to ask about your experience of using the Echo Dot, and we would like to audio record your reactions, positive as well as negative. Using the feedback from those on the trial, as well as from existing Alexa users, we plan to produce an item that other listeners of Sheffield Talking News can hear. By doing this we hope to encourage more people to use these devices that we believe are ideally suited to those with visual impairment.

If after the trial you do not wish to keep the Echo Dot we will take it from you and you will not have incurred any cost. But if you wish to keep the unit then we will sell it to you for £20.00. The Echo Dot currently sells for £49.99 on Amazon. There are offers from time to time but none of them are likely to undercut £20.

Guide to Getting Started with the Echo Dot

Setting Up

There is plenty of guidance on the internet for setting up Echo devices. This is the guide provided by Amazon. You will need the Alexa app on a smart phone which is available free of charge from Play Store, App Store or direct from Amazon. Once set up, and if you are new to Alexa, Amazon provides a guide to things you can ask Alexa. It also provides more information you can use once you become more familiar with the system. Saying “Alexa stop” always stops Alexa and prepares it for a new command.

Accessing Sheffield Talking News' Strands

On Echo devices the equivalent of an app is called a ‘skill’. There are three skills for accessing our output.

(i) ‘Sheffield Talking News’ – this will take you straight to the weekly news. To use it you have to enable it first, so you say, “Alexa, enable the Sheffield Talking News skill.” Once it’s been enabled all you need say from thereon is, “Alexa, open Sheffield Talking News,” and it will take you straight to the weekly news.

(ii) ‘‘Talk About Magazine’’ – this takes you straight to our Magazine. As with the news you enable this skill by saying, “Alexa, enable the Talk About Magazine skill.” Once enabled (you only need do it once) simply say, “Alexa, open Talk About Magazine” and you’ll have the Magazine ready to play.

(iii) ’Out and About in Sheffield’ – as the name suggests this takes you to our ‘Out & About items. You enable it by saying, “Alexa, enable the Out and About in Sheffield skill.” You only need to enable the skill once, and after that if you want to listen to an Out & About item say, “Alexa, open Out and About in Sheffield.”

Each of these skills allow you to skip backwards and forwards between the current and past items, and once in an item you can skip backwards and forwards to find the section you want. You can also play faster than normal speed if you want to review something quickly. Once in a skill just say, “Alexa, help” and a voice will explain the controls to you.

Before these skills were introduced listeners used to listen to STN via the ‘My Talking Newspaper’ skill. This skill still exists and it’s useful if you want to listen to a talking newspaper from another town or region. Once enabled just say, “Alexa, open My Talking Newspaper” and follow the instructions.

Further Support See https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=201399130. You may also be interested in this article by Gear Brain.