Working for People with Sight Loss

Smarten up your home with Alexa Routines

Collage of Echo, Echo Dot and Echo Show Smart Speakers

by David Redmond.

Welcome to the World of Alexa Routines

Everyone knows that you can ask Alexa to do things. You can ask the time, ask Alexa to play music, or even ask it to turn on or off your lights. But what if you didn’t even need to ask? What if she just did what you wanted without being told? Welcome to the world of Alexa routines.

What are Alexa routines?

In short, an Alexa routine allows Alexa to do something based on an action other than someone directly asking. For example, she might do something at a certain time, when a button is pressed, or maybe when it starts raining. The possibilities are really endless.

Lets say for example that you want to listen to the radio each morning. On a basic level you could set Alexa to play a radio station at 7am each day, or if you wanted to get adventurous you could buy a cheap motion sensor so that Alexa plays the radio station when you walk into the kitchen.

The final thing that makes routines so powerful is that they can do multiple things at once. So if you wanted Alexa to do two things, for example turn on the lights and start playing music when it starts raining, you can absolutely do that. Super cool!

How to create a routine

The possibilities are endless and I’m not going to be able to cover everything in one article but let’s look at how to create a very basic Alexa routine. This will let you get started and grow from there.

Alexa routines are created in the Alexa app. If you have the app on your phone you’re good to go, if not you’ll need to download it first from the App Store or Google Play Store. Chances are if you have Alexa that the app is on your phone, so we’ll skip the download step for now.

Open your Alexa app and navigate to the more tab, it’s located on the bottom right of your screen, or you can just flick to it with your screen reader.

Then flick until you find routines. In that section you find yourself in a list of your routines, it’s possible you might have some stuff in here that Alexa has set up on its own, but it’s more likely that your now in an empty list. Not to worry, we’ll fill that up quick enough.

Navigate to the add new button on the top right corner, visually this is a simple plus icon. Once you select this button you’ll go to the creation screen, this is where all the fun happens.

The creation screen has three sections

  1. Routine name: this is where you name your routine. What you name it is up to you, the name is simply what will show up in the list we passed by earlier.
  2. The trigger section: this is where you’ll be asked what you want to trigger the routine. As explained earlier it could be the time, a sensor, your voice, an alarm, and so much more.
  3. The actions section: this is where you tell Alexa what to do. For example, if you tell Alexa to play music, whenever the routine is triggered the action will take place.

It’s really that simple. Sometimes you might be asked additional questions based on the action, for example if your action is to turn on the lights you might be asked what brightness or colour you’d like, but you won’t be asked anything overly complicated.

So, with that explained I’d encourage you to go wild. You won’t break anything so go have fun. If you create something you don’t like you can always delete it, so feel free to experiment.

Below are some examples that you can use as starting points while you learn the ropes.

Examples

  1. You can set a routine that reminds you to take your tablets or eye drops.
  2. You can set a routine to play music when you get up in the morning.
  3. If you have smart bulbs, plugs or switches, you can set Alexa to turn off all these things when you say goodnight.
  4. If you have kids, you can always create a routine that plays baby shark every 10 minutes, although I wouldn’t personally recommend this.

Conclusion

Alexa routines are an incredibly powerful tool to bring your smart speaker experience to the next level. They can seem scary, but they are actually quite simple, so I’d encourage you to go explore.

There are loads of great ideas out in the wild so maybe share some of your routines with us on social media, we look forward to seeing what you create.