You can do a lot of things inside the Alexa App that you can’t do with your voice alone on an Echo device. Things like setting up smart home routines.
There are also some functions that are just easier and more convenient in the App like scrolling through music. Instead of saying “Alexa next,” “Alexa next,” Alexa next,” Alexa next,” etc., etc., etc., you can open the now playing section in the app and press the button until you find a song you like.
There are three different ways to access the Alexa app:- Install the Alexa app on your phone
- Install the Alexa app on your tablet
- Go to https://alexa.amazon.com/
It’s important to note that different options are available depending on which method you use to access the app.
For example, the ability to setup smart home routines is only available if you access the Alexa app on a smartphone. If you go into the Alexa website or try to access it on a tablet, the option for routines does not show up. This is true even if you’re accessing the App on a Fire tablet.
For this section, I am going to assume that you are using the Alexa App on a mobile smartphone device because that’s where you’ll find the most options.
Okay with that said, let’s take a look at all the different options inside Amazon Alexa App...
The home screen displays most of the commands that you gave your Echo in the form of cards. So for example, if you said “Alexa play songs by the Beastie Boys,” you will see a card with an album cover of the Beastie Boys.
Some of the cards allow you to navigate the Alexa App easily. Like when you set a timer and view the card, you will have the option to see the timer in the app and make changes to the timer.
You can also get more information. So if you ask Alexa to give you information from Wikipedia, you can go into the card, and it will have a clickable link to the page about the specific info you requested.
There are a handful of navigation buttons that are always present on the bottom in the Alexa app:Home - Takes you to the home screen where the cards for your recent commands are located.
Message - In this section, you can make calls, send a message, and drop in on approved Echo devices.
Music - In the music section, you can control what’s playing on your Echo. Start, stop, next,etc., along with the ability to choose your Echo device and play from your history and queue.
Music, Video, & Books
In this section, you can connect to a handful of different video services, control and enable specific streaming music accounts and play Audible and Kindle books on your Echo. There is also a section for setting up any Sonos devices you may own.
Let’s take a look at each section:
Video - The video section is where you can connect to supported Tivo, satellite dish, and cable boxes for voice control from your Echo. It’s also where you connect your Echo to your Fire TV.
Music - In music, you can enable music skills for supported streaming music services like Spotify, Pandora, SiriusXM, etc. You can also control playback on your Echo visually through the app here.
Sonos - This is where you enable Sonos and control the functions that are currently available through the Alexa app.
Books - The Alexa app has direct access to your Audible and Kindle library, and you can easily play any title that you choose from this section.
When you say “Alexa add eggs to my shopping list” this is where the item is posted inside the Alexa App. It’s also where your To-do list lives.
You can create custom lists here and add items to it any time by saying “Alexa add [item] to [custom list name]. You can go in and check off or delete items at any time.
One special thing you can do is, in your shopping list, you can select an item and then choose either “Search Amazon for [item on your shopping list]” or “Search Bing for [item on your shopping list].
For it to pull up on Amazon, you need to have the Amazon shopping app installed on your smartphone.
Contacts is just the section of the Alexa app where you can find your…. contacts. It’s a list of everyone on your phone (if you permitted Alexa to pull it in). You can pull up and call or drop-in (open a connection to their Echo) on a person if they have drop-in enabled for you.
All of your current Alexa devices are located here. If you select a device, you are taken to the settings of that device. We’ll get more into settings when we get to the “Settings” section.
You can also set up a new Alexa device by selecting “Add Alexa Device” and following through all the menu options.
The smart home section is where you can set up, group, and control your smart home devices. You can also set up multi-room music groups for whole home audio with your Echo. Let’s take a look at each option.
Devices - In the devices section you can add devices, enable smart home device skills, and control your smart home actions.
When you select “Add Device” Alexa will attempt to find any new smart home hardware that you have set up. You can then connect the device to your Alexa network.
You can also control all of your smart home devices right from this screen. Comes in handy when you don’t want to shout the Alexa command when everyone is sleeping. Just select the device name, and it will give you options like dim the lights for your Philips Hue bulbs or turn off the plug for a Wemo smart outlet.
Groups - Groups allows you to bundle together your smart home devices for easy single phrase control. So, for example, you could group all the smart lights in your home together, call it “All the lights” and when you say “Alexa turn off all the lights,” all the lights in your house will turn off.
You can also set up multi-room music in this section. This allows you to play a song all throughout the house if you have multiple Echos set up.
Scenes - This is a list of all the scenes you have set up on your smart home devices. You may have a scene called “movie lights” where your Philips Hue bulbs turn to 20% brightness in your living room.
You can disable the scene here, but mostly this is just a convenient place to look at scene names and a place to discover new scenes that you may have set up.
Amazon defines skills as “Capabilities that enable customers to create a more personalized experience.”
There are currently thousands of skills that you can enable that will allow you to do everything from play Jeopardy to check the balance on your Amazon store credit card.
Opening the Skills option will take you to the Amazon Skills store where you can browse and enable new Skills. It’s broken down into many sections including Editors Picks, Latest Skills, Top Skills, Games, etc.
You can tap the “CATEGORIES” button on the top, and it will navigate to a list of about 20 different categories.
You can also select the “Your Skills” option in the upper right corner to be taken to a list of all the Skills that you have enabled. From here you can see recently updated Skills and Skills that need attention. The "Skills that need attention" option generally means that you need to link your account for it to work on the Echo.
Okay, settings… Settings are where you’ll find the most powerful features of your Alexa enabled device. There is a lot to unpack here so let’s get started.
Setup A New Device - This is where you connect your new Alexa enabled device to the app. Setup is fairly simple. You follow the instructions and barring any unforeseen problems you’ll be up and running in no time.
Device Settings - Right under the “Setup New Devices” button is a list of all the Alexa devices you have set up. If you select a device you’ll get multiple settings that you can change. This is different depending on what device you choose. For example, there are far fewer options for a Fire TV than for an Echo. Let’s take a look at the Echo settings since that’s the majority of installed Alexa devices.