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Simplify your Smart Home with Amazon Alexa Routines

by Elizabeth Harper on December 27, 2018

Sure, you can use your Alexa devices just to set timers and turn on the lights — but the smart assistant can do a lot more to automate your smart home. With Alexa Routines, you can assign a series of actions that are triggered by a single command — and that can really simplify controlling your smart home. If you typically use several smart home commands in sequence — for example, asking to turn the lights on and read the news in the morning — routines are the perfect way to do it. All you need to start using Routines is an Alexa device. You can add any Alexa-compatible smart home devices to your Routine, but you can also set up Routines with nothing more than an Echo speaker. 

Routines are simple to set up using the Alexa app (for Android and iOS devices). To get started, launch the Alexa app, then:

  1. Click on the menu icon in the upper left
  2. Clicak Routines
  3. Click the plus icon in the upper right

Now you're creating your Routine. First, you need to decide how to start the Routine. Click on the plus icon to the right of "when this happens" and pick a trigger for your Routine:

  • When you say a command
  • At a certain time
  • When one of your connected devices detects something, like a motion sensor detecting motion
  • When you arrive or leave a location, based on your phone's geo-location
  • When you press an Echo Button (sold in a two-pack from Amazon, currently $14.99)

Click on your trigger of choice and add the details — i.e. a specific voice command, a particular time of day — and click save.

Next, you'll decide what you want Alexa to do when you start the Routine. Click on the plus icon to the right of "add action" and pick what your routine should do:

  • Say something, including telling jokes or reading fun facts
  • Tell you what's on your calendar
  • Change device settings, like adjusting the volume
  • Send a message to the Alexa app or to your Echo devices
  • Play music from Amazon Music or other services
  • Read the news from your Flash Briefing, which you can customize under Settings > Flash Briefing
  • Control smart home devices that you've set up with Alexa (here's how)
  • Tell you the traffic
  • Tell you the weather
  • Wait for a specific period of time before performing an action

Just click on the action you want and follow the on-screen prompts to set up the details. You can add as many actions as you want — hit the plus sign again to add another one — and drag and drop to rearrange them if you need to.

When you're done, click save. The Routine will automatically be enabled on your Alexa devices, though it may take a minute or two for them to be available.

You can view, edit, and delete your Routines in the same place you create them: the Alexa app under Settings > Routines. To modify a Routine, simply tap its name in the list.

So what should you do now that you know how to create Alexa Routines? Here are some recommendations:

  • A morning routine for you or the kids — or both. This could start with an alarm to wake you up at the right time every weekday, which could even include a snooze button using an Echo Button. Once you're awake, Alexa can read the news, play music, or even tell jokes.
  • A leaving the house routine that turns off the lights, locks the door, and adjusts the thermostat whenever you've left (via your smartphone location).
  • A coming home routine that turns on the lights, adjusts the thermostat, and starts playing your favorite music a certain amount of time after you've left work, so the house is just the way you like it when you get home.
  • A dinnertime routine that has every Alexa device in the house announce dinner's ready to call everyone to the table.
  • A bedtime routine that turns off lights and appliances throughout the house, locks the door, enables the alarm, and plays lullabies for the kids (or some relaxing tunes for you).

These are some places to start with your routines but the options are endless. And since making Alexa Routines is as simple as tapping on a few options, why not hop into the Alexa app to explore what's possible?

[Image credit: Amazon]


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