Amazon Alexa is now called Ziggy – Quantum Leap and Bowie fans, here’s how to change your wake word!

Sci-fi and glam rock stans alike will love this new upgrade

Quantum Leap: Scott Bakula at Comic Con
(Image credit: Getty)

Hey Ziggy, when does the reboot of beloved sci-fi series Quantum Leap start? That’s something many fans have probably longed to say for many years, and now they can. Hey Ziggy, what was the best thing about jamming good with Weird and Gilly, and the Spiders from Mars? Possibly some David Bowie fans may have wanted to ask that. I'd certainly like to know. Well, now we can, and there’s a guide to how to do so right below this intro.

’Ziggy’ can now be used as a wake word for Amazon Echo devices, instead of the familiar ‘Alexa’. It’s not all that widely known, but if you own an Amazon Echo device, you can already use ‘computer‘ and ‘Amazon’ as wake words for it. I'd assume 99% of people just use Alexa. 

Ziggy seems a better option all round to me though. It’s only two syllables and it‘s got harder consonants. But mainly, it seems better because Ziggy was both an alter-ego of David Bowie and the all-knowing but not-all-that-helpful supercomputer in Quantum Leap. Having Ziggy as your digital assistant will bring a whole new level of excitement to turning on your lights, asking for a chicken recipe, and ordering toilet paper from Amazon! 

David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust on screen of Amazon Echo Show 15

Alexa looking very glowed up after her latest makeover

(Image credit: Amazon)

How to change your Echo wake word to Ziggy

You’ll need the Amazon Alexa app. Ironically, the app will still be called Alexa no matter what your wake word is. 

  • Go to Devices
  • Click on Echo & Alexa, top left
  • Choose your speaker from the list
  • Click on the settings cog, top right 
  • ‘Wake word’ is about two thirds of the way down the list
  • Select your wake word
  • You could also change Alexa’s voice to ‘New Alexa’ for a full Ziggy-fication of your Echo

Have you got multiple Echo devices you’d like to Ziggy-fy? Prepare to be annoyed: you’ll have to repeat this process for every single one.

Recently picked up for a remake/reboot/sequel which may or may not turn out to suck, Quantum Leap was an extremely good-natured sci-fi show which ran from 1989 to 1993. Then it unfortunately got shit-canned without any element of the overarching story being resolved to any kind of satisfactory degree. Life's like that.

In the show, Scott Bakula – later of Enterprise and NOT a vampire as his name suggests – travelled through time as Dr Sam Beckett, righting wrongs and trying to get back to the present. That probably seemed a more inviting prospect in the early 90s than it would today. Aiding him in this was David Lynch and Wim Wenders regular Dean Stockwell, as Al Calavicci. He was a hologram, if memory serves. 

Al would receive information about Beckett’s predicament of the week from a super computer called Ziggy, who he consulted via a kind of proto tablet device – this show was so ahead of its time! 

Despite it being perfectly obvious that Ziggy has been chosen as a wake word by a cabal of Quantum Leap nerds in deep cover in their development team, Amazon denies this and claims the word has been chosen based on, “identifying acoustic patterns that match the wake word,“ and that they picked “‘Ziggy’ not only because it performed well in testing, but because it’s fun and reflects Alexa’s wealth of knowledge on everything from A to Z.“

Yeah, right. 

Amazon further goes on to reference David Bowie, which is a perfectly valid alternative explanation. Ziggy Stardust was a persona Bowie adopted during the sexy glam rock phase of his early career and also the name of his most successful album (deep breath): The Rise And fall of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars. In this context you could say, 'Ziggy: play guitar' – the opening line (almost) of the (almost) title song Ziggy Stardust, and probably you will get some guitar-based songs from Amazon Prime Music. But the song that lyric comes from also tells us that Ziggy is 'the Naz', whatever that means, and furthermore has 'god-given ass'. I don't know about you but I'm not sure I could speak to an Echo speaker again if I was picturing it having god-given ass. It would seem kind of kinky. 

Also, it must be said that David/Ziggy, while androgynous, was definitely a boy, whereas Amazon’s AI clearly has a female voice, as did Ziggy in Quantum Leap. QED. Although, confusingly, Ziggy was always referred to with male pronouns, and no explanation was ever given as to why it eventually turned out that they had a female voice. Again, very ahead of its time. 

Whatever the real reason for this excellent Echo upgrade, T3 welcomes it with open arms. Ziggy says there’s a 99% chance we’ll be saying goodbye to Alexa and a hearty hello to Ziggy very shortly. And when the kids have killed the man, we'll have to break up the band – ah. 

UPDATE: We reached out to Amazon to ask if Ziggy being chosen was anything to do with Quantum Leap. A spokesperson replied: ‘No it is not. Thanks for checking though.”

Duncan Bell

Duncan is the former lifestyle editor of T3 and has been writing about tech for almost 15 years. He has covered everything from smartphones to headphones, TV to AC and air fryers to the movies of James Bond and obscure anime. His current brief is everything to do with the home and kitchen, which is good because he is an excellent cook, if he says so himself. He also covers cycling and ebikes – like over-using italics, this is another passion of his. In his long and varied lifestyle-tech career he is one of the few people to have been a fitness editor despite being unfit and a cars editor for not one but two websites, despite being unable to drive. He also has about 400 vacuum cleaners, and is possibly the UK's leading expert on cordless vacuum cleaners, despite being decidedly messy. A cricket fan for over 30 years, he also recently become T3's cricket editor, writing about how to stream obscure T20 tournaments, and turning out some typically no-nonsense opinions on the world's top teams and players.

Before T3, Duncan was a music and film reviewer, worked for a magazine about gambling that employed a surprisingly large number of convicted criminals, and then a magazine called Bizarre that was essentially like a cross between Reddit and DeviantArt, before the invention of the internet. There was also a lengthy period where he essentially wrote all of T3 magazine every month for about 3 years. 

A broadcaster, raconteur and public speaker, Duncan used to be on telly loads, but an unfortunate incident put a stop to that, so he now largely contents himself with telling people, "I used to be on the TV, you know."