Smart Home Automation

What are Alexa routines?

25 March 2020 Smart Home Automation

If you’re the person who asks how to set up a smart home with Alexa, you aren’t alone. Over 100 million Alexa devices have been sold. Voice control is one of the main drivers for many people automating their homes for the first time. Let’s face it, taking charge of mundane household tasks using nothing but a few barked commands is appealing. To make that happen, you’ll first need a smart speaker or smart display so you can bring Amazon Alexa out to play…

Smart speaker or smart display?

Since the first Echo smart speaker was launched back in 2014, these dinky devices have now penetrated our homes by the millions. Today, you’ve got a fantastic choice of smart speakers and smart displays. The only difference between the two is a screen of various sizes.

Here’s a swift snapshot of the Echo range as it stands today:

• Echo: The original Echo is now into its second generation and gives you an affordable entry-point to Alexa’s many skills.

• Echo Dot: A small device ideal for kids – you’ve even got some kid-friendly special editions to choose from. Echo Dot is going from strength to strength. The third generation gives you Alexa in a tiny footprint.

• Echo Spot: The smallest smart display ideal for use in the bedroom as an alarm clock.

• Echo Plus: The key selling point of the second-generation Echo Plus is the integrated Zigbee hub. Echo Plus allows a broader control of smart devices without a third-party gateway in place.

• Echo Studio: Echo Studio brings immersive high-fidelity sound to Alexa for the first time.

• Echo Show: Dominance as the original smart display, Echo Show is now retooled and better than ever with its large screen adding a new layer to Alexa.

• Echo Show 5: Echo Show 5 halves the screen size and allows you to take Alexa more comfortably into the bedroom. Don’t worry; you’ll be able to disable the mic and camera physically, so you’ve got no privacy concerns.

• Echo Flex: Echo Flex plugs directly into a power outlet, allowing you to take Alexa up into the attic, down into the basement or on stairways where she would otherwise find access problematic.

There’s no right or wrong choice here. You should take the time to think carefully about how, precisely, you’ll press Alexa into commission. Personalise your buying decision, and then finding the right Echo device is a cinch.

So, with the hardware in place, what’s the deal with Alexa routines, then?

What is an Alexa routine?

Alexa routines let you make things happen automatically. You can create routines to kick in:

• At a specific time each day.

• When you issue a dedicated Alexa command.

• Whenever you arrive at or leave home.

• When your alarm goes off in the morning.

An Alexa routine is a way to get fully into the spirit of home automation. Convenience is one of the twin pillars smart home technology is built upon, security being the other. With routines, you’ll streamline day-to-day operations using nothing but a tiny smart speaker and the power of your voice.

So far, so good: How, then, do you go about setting up an Alexa routine?

How to set up an Alexa routine

The first thing to clear up is that you don’t need to be a tech wizard to get fully involved with Alexa routines. Setting them up is easy. Using them is even easier. So here’s how you get going:

• Open up the Alexa app.

• Hit the hamburger icon top left then tap ‘Routines’.

• Tap the + icon top-right to open a tab for a new routine.

• Hit ‘When This Happens’ to set up the trigger for the routine.

• ‘Add Action’ allows you to link a corresponding action for the trigger you created. (Once you get more confident, you’ll be able to build in multiple actions to a single routine.)

• Hit ‘Save’ and you’re good to go.

As a rule of thumb, you should be able to set up an Alexa routine in 1 or 2 minutes. You’ll only need a little longer if you’re creating location-based routines. Adding more actions also increases the time a little.

An example to get started

Waking and sleeping

When you wake up in the morning, why not create a routine to make your day start more easily?

Instead of being startled by the sound of an alarm, let yourself gradually wake with the lights turning on slowly. Or during the cold winter have the temperature adjust itself automatically. Then the next Alexa routine gives you a news and traffic update, before you head downstairs to a coffee machine already brewing (all you’ll need in addition to Alexa to make that happen is a smart plug).

At the other end of the day, how would it feel to simply command “Alexa, goodnight” to get the lights dimmed and some soothing sleep sounds playing? Create the morning and evening routines that mesh best with your lifestyle so you can start and end your days the right way without needing to lift a finger.

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