You've long been able to ask Alexa to buy you things from Amazon. But how do you stop accidental ordering on your Amazon Echo with Alexa? (If you don't know what Alexa is, we'll explain all in our What is Alexa? feature.)
And how do you stop reckless friends and family from ordering with Alexa, too?
How ordering with Alexa works
Alexa orders from Amazon using the 1-click option from your Amazon account, you simply have to use your voice to search for things and confirm you want to buy it, it's then charged to your account and delivered to your default address.
It sounds great: "Alexa, buy some toilet paper", "Alexa, I want to buy The Last Jedi on Blu-ray". But you can see where this is going: "Alexa, buy a case of wine", "Alexa, buy a 12-inch kitchen knife", "Alexa, buy a 50-inch TV" or "Alexa, buy a Lego Death Star".
In each case, you're presented with whatever Alexa finds on Amazon, before being offered the choice to buy it. By default, all you'd have to say is "yes".
Why you'd want to stop voice ordering with Alexa
Anyone who owns an Echo, Dot or other Alexa-enabled device will know that Alexa will understand what your children say too, meaning that you could find yourself with a whole range of things on your doorstep that they manage to order, quickly, easily and just using voice.
Bit it's not just kids, it's anyone who comes into your house or anything that says "Alexa, buy…." And if you've got mates who are prone to a prank or two then
For those who have seen Alexa TV adverts, you'll know that the Amazon Echo can potentially respond to the voice in the advert, adding tennis balls and dog biscuits to your own shopping list.
Of course, once an order is successfully placed, you'll be sent an email at which point you can cancel before despatch.
It's also worth noting that the Alexa app keeps a record of everything it hears and those shopping requests, but there's still huge potential for kids or pranksters to go and buy whatever they want, just to see what happens.
How to secure your Amazon Echo voice purchasing
To make sure that your Amazon Echo won't just errantly order anything it can find on Amazon from a voice prompt, just follow these simple steps:
- Open the Alexa app
- Hit the left-hand menu button to open up the menu choices
- Head into Settings, scroll down the list to voice purchasing (it's near the bottom under your device list)
- Turn off Purchase by Voice OR you can set a voice PIN
This will mean that when you go to buy something, you'll then have to vocally provide that PIN as an added security measure.
This might stop strangers being able to buy things, but you'll have to make sure your kids are out of earshot too, or you'll still be getting that Lego Death Star.
You also have the option to turn off the voice purchasing feature entirely in the same section of the app, which for families might just be the easiest option.
Alexa will add things to your shopping list
There's also another neat trick that Alexa offers: if it can't find what you're looking for, it will automatically add that item to your shopping list.
Unfortunately, you can fall foul of pranksters here too, because it's very easy to add, let's say, "intimate items" to your shopping list. When you ask Alexa what's on your list, you'll get dog biscuits and tennis balls (of course) and a whole list of items that your immature friends have decided you might also need.