The idea of a voice-controlled smart house is becoming more and more appealing nowadays. Amazon’s Alexa is one of the most popular home assistants out there, with more than 100 million units sold. Being able to do things around the house with nothing but voice commands is hard to pass on.
A smart display or smart speaker is needed to set up an Alexa. But let’s dig deeper into that.
Smart Display or Smart Speaker: What Should You Get?
Amazon Prime members got the first echo smart speaker in 2014 and it hasn’t been the same since then. Millions of homes today are set up with these devices. What we find today is a wide collection of different smart displays and speakers. What distinguishes the two? The size of the screen mostly.
Here’s what the echo lineup offers today:
- Echo: We’re now at the second generation of echo devices that provide an affordable experience with Alexa’s various features.
- Echo Dot: Relatively small compared to the others, suitable for children. You can find kid-friendly models of this device. It’s now at its third gen, and it offers Alexa in a very small package.
- Echo Spot: This is the smallest smart display available. It’s an amazing tiny device that can be used as an alarm clock next to your bed.
- Echo Plus: The Echo plus has been the main seller of the 2nd gen. It’s the integrated Zigbee hub that offers the user a wide control of various devices with no need for any third-party gateway
- Echo Studio: The release was quite recent on November 7, 2019. What it brought is highly immersive sound quality to Alexa.
- Echo Show: The Echo Show has been redesigned to offer a 10-inch screen display giving you an Alexa experience that’s better than ever.
- Echo Show 5: It takes the Echo Show and reduces the screen to half of its size, allowing for more mobility. You also shouldn’t have any privacy concerns as you can physically disable the camera and mic.
- Echo Flex: It can be plugged into a power outlet allowing it to find access in areas of the house that may be problematic like an attic or a basement.
There isn’t really an objectively better choice than all others. Determining the best model for you depends entirely on your preferences, your house, and your needs.
Now, after discussing the hardware, it’s to jump into discovering what Alexa Routine is all about.
What Is an Alexa Routine?
Whatever you want to do, you can do it automatically thanks to Alexa Routine. The name says it all; you can make routines that’ll start:
- At a certain time during the day
- After you issue a specific Alexa command.
- As you leave or arrive at home
- As your alarm goes off
How to Setup an Alexa Routine
It doesn’t take a tech expert for someone to be able to set up an Alexa Routine. It’s very simple to do, and using it is even simpler. Here’s what you have to do:
- Access the Alex app
- Tap the hamburger icon then click on Routines
- To open a new routine app, tap the “Plus” icon
- Set up a routine trigger with the “When This Happens” option
- You can link the trigger to a specific action with “Add Action.” After figuring out how it works, you’ll be able to create several actions for just one routine.
- When you’re done, tap “Save.”
It doesn’t take more than 2 minutes to set up a routine. If you’re making a location-based routine or adding more actions, it might take you a little bit longer. The point is, it doesn’t get simpler than this.
And modifying a certain routine isn’t any harder than that. You just have to do the three first steps again to open up a routine and tap the routine that you want to modify. You can also remove a routine if you have no use for it anymore.
Restrictions and Workarounds
The real limitation of the service is being restricted to the voice commands provided in the Actions menu only. You can’t create any customized voice commands. So doing things such as automating a fire TV or interacting with third-party services is going to be very limited.
Routines can’t simply set the brightness of multiple lights at the same time. This is an issue that you can get around by adding the lights and setting their brightness individually. It might be a bit tiring, but once done, you won’t have to worry about it anymore.
Another drawback is the fact that you can’t add sound to a routine until the very end. If you want to work around this to play some music, you’ll have to create an extra routine and run them both back to back.
While location-based triggers are very useful, but they can’t be controlled by more than one user. If you like to expand on their capabilities, check out the IFTTT feature (If This, Then That).
Alexa Routines for Beginners
If you’re excited to start using Alexa Routines and make them work to your advantage, here are five routines that are easy to set up and get going in no time:
1. Waking and sleeping
Here’s an example of how an Alexa routine can make your day better. Instead of waking up to the sudden noise of an alarm, you can set the lights to gradually and slowly light up. You can adjust the temperature to gradually change so that it can help you jump out of bed easily, especially during the cold winter mornings.
If you’re looking to be updated immediately with what’s new out there, you can make daily traffic and news update routine. To top it all off, jump out of bed to find the coffee machine already making your first drink of the day.
This would work just as well for the end of the day. With an “Alexa, goodnight” command, dim the lights and play some soothing music. Customize your lifestyle the way you want it to be.
2. Automate Tasks Upon Arriving at Home
This requires a location-based routine. And while it takes more effort to set up, the services that it can offer are really worth it.
If you like to come home and find the lights turned on, the temperature adjusted to your preference, the speakers playing your favorite music, or Alexa greeting you upon arrival, then you can make that happen and much more.
3. Keep Your Kids Busy and on Schedule
You can utilize an Echo Dot if you own one to make most of your kids’ time. A motion sensor can be programmed to remind the children to clean up their room or take care of one of their daily chores. You can remind them of their guitar lessons or let them know that it’s cold outside and they need to wear something warm. There’s such a variety of ways that routines can be created in.
4. Secure Your Home When You’re Out
Imagine that you’re going to be away from the house for an extended period of time. If your house isn’t giving any signs of life, then it may catch the attention of potential burglars. But you can prevent this by setting up routines that make it seem that the house is inhabited and busy.
5. Get Notified Whenever Someone Opens a Door
If you have a motion sensor, for example, attached to a window or door, you can make use of it by allowing it to notify you if anyone is attempting to enter the house. This is a neat security feature that’ll keep you aware of all activity around the house.
Well, there you have it, we gave you a glimpse of what you can do with the Alexa Routine features. You can go even deeper than that once you get your hands on it, so go ahead and explore it even further.