Above is a quick walkthrough of some of the new Alexa Show Features.
Last update on 2022-11-03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Amazon Echo now has Voice Reminders!
Last year, I purchased an Amazon Echo which we will refer to as Alexa for the rest of the article. My wife wanted an easy way to play music in the kitchen and I was looking to also use it for some Home Automation. Yes, Alexa has a high WAF (Wife Approval Factor). We have since sold that original Echo and replaced with an Echo Show which does greta in the kitchen with it's 7" screen. We also have an Echo DOT and a few Vobots in the house.
- Echo Show brings you everything you love about Alexa, and now she can show you things. Watch video flash briefings, Amazon Video content, see music lyrics, security cameras, photos, weather forecasts, to-do and shopping lists, browse and listen to Audible audiobooks, and more. All hands-free—just ask.
- Call almost anyone hands-free, or make video calls to family and friends with an Echo Spot, Echo Show, or the Alexa App. Instantly connect to other Echo devices around your home.
- See lyrics on-screen with Amazon Music. Just ask to play a song, artist or genre, and stream over Wi-Fi. Also, stream music on Pandora, Spotify, TuneIn, iHeartRadio, and more.
- Powerful, room-filling speakers with Dolby processing for crisp vocals and extended bass response. Play your music simultaneously across Echo devices with multi-room music (Bluetooth not supported). Adjust the treble, mid, and bass levels with your voice.
- Ask Alexa to show you the front door or monitor the baby's room with compatible cameras from Amazon and others. Turn on lights or the TV, set thermostats, control Amazon Video on Fire TV, and more with WeMo, Philips Hue, Sony, ecobee, and other compatible smart home devices.
- Meet Echo - Our flagship smart speaker that connects to Alexa to play music, set alarms and timers, answer questions, control smart home devices, and more. Fits best in communal spaces, like living and family rooms.
- Enjoy room-filling sound - Enjoy crisp vocals and dynamic bass response with Dolby processing.
- Voice control your music - Stream songs from Amazon Music, Apple Music, Spotify, Sirius XM, and others.
- Ready to help - Ask Alexa to play music, answer questions, read the news, check the weather, set alarms, control compatible smart home devices, and more.
- Voice control your smart home - Turn on lights, adjust thermostats, lock doors, and more with compatible connected devices.
- Echo Dot is a voice-controlled speaker that uses Alexa to play music, control smart home devices, make calls, answer questions, set timers and alarms, and more.
- Play music from Amazon Music, Apple Music, Spotify, Pandora, SiriusXM, TuneIn, and iHeartRadio.
- Call or message family and friends hands-free, or drop in from the Alexa App to your Echo device.
- Controls lights, locks, thermostats, and more with compatible connected devices.
- Use the built-in speaker, or for bigger sound, connect to speakers through Bluetooth or audio cable.
- Compact 2.5" smart display with Alexa ready to help
- Alexa is always happy to help - Manage your day. Get instant information. Check weather and traffic on your way out.
- Voice control your music - Ask Alexa to play music and see lyrics with Amazon Music. Also, stream music from Apple Music, Spotify, Pandora, and other music services, or books from Audible.
- Control your smart home - Voice control compatible devices or manage them on the easy-to-use display. Ask Alexa to show you security cameras, control lights, and adjust thermostats.
- Connect with video calling and messaging - Make video calls to family and friends with Skype, the Alexa app, an Echo Spot, or Echo Show.
Last update on 2022-11-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
*Disclaimer: Most if not all links on this page will be Affiliate Links. This helps pay for things like website hosting and more bits & gadgets to write about.
There have also been several deals on Amazon where they have been bundling Echo DOTs with other products. We picked up a Sony STRDH770 7.2 Channel Home Theater AV Receiver with an Echo DOT on sale for $222. The Echo DOT works well hooked up to the receiver via Bluetooth. When the receiver is off the Echo DOT speaker will take over and this works better than a direct wire connection using the headphone jack on the DOT.
Amazon changes their combo deals frequently.
If you do have Amazon Prime, you will get access to play from Amazon's Prime Music collection but you can also set it up to use your Pandora account or your Spotify Premium account. Then you can say things like "Alexa, play Pandora The Black Keys" and she will respond with "Playing Pandora The Black Keys station." Want the volume louder, just say "Alexa, louder" and yes it does mostly understand you even when the music is playing! Want the music to stop, just say "Alexa, stop."
You can also play 100,000+ radio stations via tunein radio: "Alex, play KLBJ five thirty A M"
This is how I listen to my local Austin, TX morning news station: "The Todd & Don Show".
Other bonus uses in the kitchen include easily setting timers when cooking: "Alexa, set a brisket timer for 15 hours." 15 hours? Well, I do smoke a lot of briskets! Here's a post I did on Beer Injected Brisket: http://www.craftbeeraustin.com/jester-king-brewery-black-metal-beer-injected-brisket/
Have kids? Alexa can answer some basic question(although not as Knowledgeable as "OK Google") and can also do some jokes like knock-knock jokes.
The initial Alexa setup is done via the Android or IOS App. This app also shows you your latest request as "cards" where you can also provide feedback on whether Alexa did a good job understanding your request.
Here are a few screenshots from the Android App
I think Alexa is a really good addition to Smart Home/Home Automation. Why? Alexa has an excellent microphone array that can understand commands even when music is playing! It's much easier to say "Alexa, turn the porch light on" than to take out your phone, unlock your phone, open an app, and press a button.
Alexa works with many Smart Home - Home Automation products right out of the box which are listed and updated by Amazon here: Amazon Smart Home List
Some of these require Alexa 3rd party apps which are called "Alexa Skills" and you can access these from the Alexa app on your phone.
For my Nest Controllers, I am using the "Thermostat Controller" Alexa Skill from Underscore Research which allows more functionality that Nest's Alexa Skill. You can ask what the temperature is set at for your thermostats for example. I will demo this in the video at the end of the post.
If your Home Automation product does not work with Alexa out of the box, all is not lost. There is a service called IFTTT that can often bridge the gap.
IFTTT - "If This Then That" is a Free Web Service that lets you tie different apps, services, and devices together.
The "If This" part is the Trigger and the "Then That" part is the Action. For example, here are a few IFTTT 'Recipes' I have:
IF my Nest Thermostat senses Temperature over 82°f
THEN send me a notification on my Android Phone (using the IFTTT App).
IF my Ring Doorbell senses Motion
THEN Log an entry to a Google Drive Spreadsheet
IF I say "Alexa Trigger Garage Door Open Sesame"
THEN Open my Garage Door
Update: See a full write up on "How to Use Alexa (Echo) with Chamberlain MYQ"
The MYQ set can be added to most Chamberlain, Liftmaster and Craftsman garage opener made in the last 10 years or so. MYQ by itself is pretty useful and can notify when your garage door opens or closes, is open past a certain time and of course you can open or close your garage door remotely from your phone.
OpenHab is a popular open source home automation solution. It's a little complicated to get it going at first and I will cover that in a future post. Home Assistant is another popular open-source home automation solution. Both of these require you to be somewhat comfortable with configuring things from a command line. If that is not you, then you should look at solutions such as SmartThings, Universal ISY994i, VeraPlus and HomeSeer which are more "Plug and Play" and less "Plug and Pray"!
I already had OpenHab setup to connect to and control my MYQ Garage Door opener on my main Garage Door. My second garage door remote controller is DIY and you can read my post here about it: https://www.wemustbeegeeks.com/esp8266-nodemcu-relay-wifi-garage-door-opener/
Openhab has a channel(maker) on IFTTT which I had previously connected. Instructions for that can be found here: https://my.openhab.org/docs/ifttt
You'll also need to connect your Alexa to IFTTT here: https://ifttt.com/amazon_alexa
What cool things have you done with Alexa and IFTTT?