In September 2017, Amazon unveiled a new feature of Alexa, the virtual assistant that is available on Amazon’s line of Echo devices (and now lots of other products as well). Amazon Alexa “Routines,” allows the voice assistant to complete multiple tasks with a single voice command. But just exactly how does it work? We break the feature down for you. Here’s everything you need to know about Amazon Alexa Routines.
First – what is “Routines”?
The concept behind Routines is that you can customize Alexa so that when you utter a phase, she will then proceed to complete an entire series of actions that you pre-determine in the Alexa app. For example, if you say the phrase, “Alexa, good night,” the virtual assistant might proceed to turn off all the lights, lock the doors, and shut off the downstairs heating system, depending on your preferences. You can also create an entirely separate routine for the morning, if you want Alexa to start the coffee maker, turn on the lights, and read you the day’s weather forecast.
Why is it useful?
With Routines, Echo device users no longer have to give multiple commands to Alexa, such as “Alexa, turn off the living room lamp,” “Alexa, turn down the thermostat,” and “Alexa, set an alarm for 7 a.m.”. Instead, you can group the devices — located in different rooms, if you wish — on the app, which directs Alexa take care of them all at once. You can choose the directive of your choosing. For example, you can set it up so that when you say, “Alexa, I’m leaving,” you can have Alexa turn off all the lights in the house at once, except for the lamp by the main entrance.
Plus, Alexa-enabled devices now let users group multiple smart products into one category. For example, you can group all your living room lamps and light fixtures into one category instead of asking Alexa to turn each lamp on one by one. This makes it even easier to bunch groups of devices together into a single routine.
What do I need in order to use it?
To have access to Amazon Alexa’s Routines feature, you need to own one of Amazon’s Echo devices such as the all-new Echo, the previous-generation Echo, or the Echo Dot, Show, Plus, or Spot. You can also buy third-party products that have Alexa embedded into their products, such as the Sonos One speaker or the new LG Instaview Smart Fridge. You connect your Echo device to other smart home items, such as plugs, switches, lightbulbs, and door locks, in your home through the Alexa app. Then you can start customizing commands and Routines to fit your schedule and lifestyle.
How do I create a routine?
To create your first routine with Amazon Alexa, simply log onto your Alexa app on Android or iOS, and go to settings. Tap on accounts, then Routines, then click the plus sign in the upper-right corner. Tap on “when this happens.” From there, you can choose to have a routine happen either when you say something (“Alexa, good morning”) or at a scheduled time. So, for example, if you want an alarm to go off and the lights to turn on every day at 7 a.m., you can set that up without using your voice in the app. Next, you’ll add the actions, telling Alexa whether you want her to lock the front door, read you your Flash Briefing, turn off the music, or all of the above.
Once the routine is created, you can go back and edit it at your convenience. Feel free to remove actions or add new ones, change the time of the day or the phrase associated with it, or temporarily disable the routine altogether.
What Can’t It Do?
Currently, Routines are limited to controls of your smart home devices, as well as news, weather, and traffic updates. That means you can’t ask Alexa to start playing a podcast, for example. But overall, the Routines should mean a more pleasing Alexa experience for Echo users, with fewer commands required.