There’s been a lot of buzz about turning your home into a smart home. Controlling your lights, setting your temperature, and even checking your security cameras are all possible with the Echo. We’re going to break down what the Echo is, and tell you how to get setup with your Android phone.
The Echo is a screenless connected cylindrical computing device that can be completely controlled by your voice. In order to use the Echo you must download the Alexa app by Amazon. Alexa is used to communicate with the Echo.
The Amazon Echo can be categorized under products you didn’t know you needed until you started using them.
You know like a TV remote or a phone with GPS. I can’t imagine walking up to the TV every time I want to change channels even though that’s what I did as a kid. Just as TV remotes sped up our ability to flip channels the Echo speeds up and makes it easier interact with anything attached to the internet. Now after living with an Echo I can’t imagine searching for something to listen to on my phone then plugging it into a stereo. I just say “Alexa, play that song with the lyrics mmm bop” and Hanson just plays from across the room without me moving a muscle.
There is a growing suite of devices that have access to Amazon’s Alexa voice service. The original Echo, released in June 2015, has a loudspeaker and is appropriate for a large living room or smaller. If you already have speakers that you don’t mind leaving on there is a smaller and significantly cheaper device called the Echo Dot that can be plugged into other speakers or even connected to a bluetooth speaker.
The Echo Tap is a portable speaker that is a great option if you want to bring along your music while cooking out or gardening within range of your Wifi.
The Tap is also my speaker of choice when going on a trip. Once you get to the beach just setup the Tap on the wifi network of your that beach house you are staying at and now anyone can choose the music by just asking for a song.
Alexa has access to a bunch of streaming services. If you pay for a Spotify Premium account you can play music through that. There is also an interesting option for those of you that haven’t jumped on the streaming bandwagon yet. You can enable Amazon’s version of Spotify, Amazon Music Unlimited, for $4 a month on a single Echo device.
Alexa can be a voice activated remote control for a lot of things and services. Amazon has opened up an app store of sorts. The apps, which they call ‘skills’, are easily activated by your voice or in the Alexa mobile app. Here are my favorite 3 skills that you might not be aware of about out of the box:
This best game I’ve played with Alexa, but it is incredible. It magically guesses the name of any real person or fictional character you are thinking by asking you a specific set of questions. Think 21 questions on steroids.
This requires a logitech harmony hub, but if you have one it essentially makes any Alexa enabled device into an actual remote for your TV/Home theater allowing you to turn on and off your TV with your voice and control the volume and change the channel.
When you are entertaining guests and trying to remember what goes into a Manhattan. You can simply say “Alexa, ask the bartender what’s in a Manhattan?”
Buy the Echo Dot. It has all the smart capability of any other Alexa device and sells for $40-$50. If you don’t have a bluetooth speaker or a speaker that you don’t mind leaving on you can always pick up varying qualities of bluetooth speakers for $20 – $100 and still spend less than the original Echo.
The Echo is just a more elegant package. If minimalism is your priority go for the Echo.
Don’t get the Tap. It’s just not as useful. The tap requires you to press a button to talk to it which takes away most of the convenience of being able to talk to the device.
- Download the Alexa app from the Google Play Store on your phone. The Alexa app will help you setup your device, manage your alarms, music, shopping lists, and more.
- Plug the included power adapter into Echo and then into a power outlet. The light ring on Echo turns blue, and then orange. When the light turns orange, Echo greets you.
- Follow the guided instructions in the app to connect Echo to a Wi-Fi network.
Connecting Bluetooth Speaker to the Dot
- Turn on pairing mode on your Bluetooth speaker. If you don’t know how to do this, refer to the user guide for your Bluetooth speaker.
- Open the Alexa app and select Settings.
- Select your device, and then select Bluetooth > Pair a New Device. Your Echo Dot enters pairing mode. When Echo Dot discovers your Bluetooth speaker, the speaker appears in the list of available of devices in the Alexa app.
- Select your Bluetooth speaker. Echo Dot connects to the speaker and Alexa then tells you if the connection is successful.
- In the Alexa app select Continue. Your Bluetooth speaker is now paired with your Echo Dot.