Don't think of it as talking to yourself, think of it as talking to your house. That's better, right?
There are tons of things you can do with Amazon Echo. It grows in functionality every week, and if you use the things Echo connects to there's no better accessory for controlling things with your voice. If you don't have everything Echo connects to, there's a good chance you can find a way to make things work for you through the most powerful accessory to this platform, which is IFTTT. For the uninitiated, IFTTT is a web service that lets you connect smart things that don't natively offer functionality between the two. When you add an Amazon Echo into the mix, you gain the ability to initiate those actions with your voice, as well as extend Echo's functionality through this web service.
Here's a quick list of our favorite IFTTT recipes for the Amazon Echo.
Better Light Control
Amazon Echo has some decent smart lighting controls baked in, especially if you have more than one room of Philips Hue bulbs, but there's a lot of functionality missing if you enjoy playing with colors and scenes. IFTTT fills this gap in nicely when you connect the Hue Channel to your account, allowing you to issue voice commands for color changes or scene modes. The ability to set a custom voice command for these Hue settings is where things get fun, as it means you can say things like "Alexa, trigger movie mode" and have lights jump to a pre-set mode based on your recipe.
The only real downside here is IFTTT can't read the groups you've set through Alexa, so there's a disconnect in how these lights work with the two services, but with a little extra effort you get some fun new commands to play with.
Extending the Alarm
The microphone array in Echo makes speaking voice commands noticeably more comfortable than any other platform right now, and as a result it quickly becomes a default for things like kitchen timers or household alarms. The only downside to this is not being able to hear the alarm if you're in another room or outside doing something, which is why a lot of people use their phone or watch for this kind of thing. Using IFTTT means you can have the best of both worlds by sending a notification to your phone or watch when the alarm goes of on the Echo.
Find my phone
Unless you're using a Motorola phone and have access to Moto Voice, finding your hardware when it has slipped in between the couch cushions means activating Android Device Manager or getting a friend to call your phone. Using the Amazon Echo and IFTTT makes it so you can just ask to find your phone and have it start ringing based on your presets.
It's a simple thing, but often less trouble than tearing up the house or logging in to ADM from another computer.
Sending Alexa ToDos to Todoist
Amazon Echo includes a grocery list and ToDo list function baked into the platform, and it couldn't be easier to ask Alexa to add something to a list from across the room. The app for accessing that list, which is the Alexa app's ToDo tab, isn't quite as nice as some of the dedicated ToDo apps out there. If you find you'd rather be using Todoist for your list of tasks, you can have IFTTT export things from the Alexa ToDo list to your Todoist account and have access to all of those features.
You still have to cross things off the Alexa ToDo list manually if you ever plan to use "Alexa, what's on my ToDo list" but the overall functionality add is nice.
Amazon Echo doesn't directly support connected thermostats yet, but with Ecobee support and Works With Nest out there it's probably not too far from being a reality. In the mean time, both Ecobee and Nest thermostats have IFTTT channels, and that means you can set up trigger phrases that set these thermostats to pre-set temperatures.
It's not quite as flexible as most people would probably prefer given the individual functionality of Echo and these thermostats, but it's a nice stopgap until proper support arrives.
Do you have a favorite IFTTT recipe for Amazon Echo? Tell us about it in the comments!