Alexa is the virtual assistant, while Echo is the smart speaker device.
When you buy an Echo smart speaker, it comes with the Alexa virtual assistant built into it.
What does Alexa do?
With simple Alexa voice commands, you can ask Alexa to set timers, play music, turn the lights on and off, play games, order from Amazon an so much more.
Just say “Alexa, set timer for 20 minutes” or “Alexa, play Bruce Springsteen.” Pretty amazing.
Check out VoiceBrew’s list of the 20 best Alexa skills right now to see the best ways to get the most out of Alexa.
What are Alexa skills?
Alexa skills are the Alexa equivalent of a smartphone app.
For example, in the same way that you can download the Uber app on your smartphone, you can enable the Uber skill on Alexa. (I know, the jargon of “skill” and “enable” feels a little weird at first.)
What does my Echo do?
It’s your speaker! It will play music or radio or most anything else you ask Alexa for. And Alexa will respond to you through the speaker.
Your Echo speaker is different from other speakers
Because you can talk to it! When you say your Alexa voice commands, you say them to your Echo smart speaker.
The Echo has microphones built into it so that it can hear you — even if it’s playing music — and “wake up” when it hears its wake word “Alexa.” (You can easily choose a custom Alexa wake word if you want).
A lot of people call their Echo smart speakers “Alexas” or “Alexa speakers” — I sometimes do the same!