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What are Alexa Routines and How to Use Them?

Take your automation to the next level with Alexa Routines

If Alexa Skills are like apps, Alexa Routines are like shortcuts. Shortcuts to what you may ask. Let me show you this with an example.

My morning routine

Every morning, after I wake up, I perform the following actions:

  1. Turn on the light in the living/dining room.
  2. Set brightness of the light to the max level.
  3. Turn on TV.
  4. Switch TV to the 5th channel.
  5. Switch on air-conditioner if it’s hot or switch on heating if it’s cold in the room.

Before moving to smart devices, obviously I had to do all these tasks one by one, manually.

By now, all of these devices are smart and therefore can be controlled with Alexa. However, I still have to give five commands to my voice assistant:

Alexa, turn on living room light.
Alexa, set living room light to 100 percent.
Alexa, turn on TV.
Alexa, switch TV to channel 5.
Alexa, turn on air-conditioner.

Even though this is faster than doing these steps manually, it’s a little bit tiring and not so cool. We can do much better.

This is where Alexa Routines come on the rescue. No more five commands just one simple phrase: “Alexa, good morning” and let the magic happen.

Now, when you know what an Alexa Routine is, let’s see how we can create and use them.

Alexa Routines can be run automatically

Alexa Routines can be invoked with a voice command or they can be invoked by some trigger. This is a very important thing to keep in mind. In essence, Alexa Routine is a bundle of actions. You can bundle any number of actions and then invoke them either with a voice command or tie to some sort of a trigger.

For example, I have a window/door sensor. If a sensor detects that a window is open for a certain amount of time, it invokes a routine that turns off the air-cond and sends me a notification.

Alexa Routine is a bundle of actions invoked either by a voice command or by some sort of a trigger.

The trigger can be a physical device or an event. For example, when you enter a location or leave a location it can serve as a trigger. Alexa even can trigger a routine by detecting certain sounds (more on this at the end of the story).

Alexa has pre-made or featured routines

If you say “Alexa, start my day”, she’ll tell you something new, update you about the weather and traffic and then start your Flash Briefing.

To enable featured routines, you can use the following commands:

“Alexa, enable the Good Morning Routine” — Alexa will wish you good morning, tell you something new, then play your Flash Briefing.

“Alexa, enable the Start my Day Routine” — Alexa with tell you news, traffic, and more.

“Alexa, enable the Screen Time Routine” — Alexa will keep track of an hour of screen time.

“Alexa, enable the Weather after Alarm Routine” — Alexa will tell you the weather when you dismiss your alarm.

“Alexa, enable the Good Night Routine” — Alexa will wish you good night and play sleep sounds.

Featured routines are nice and good but the real power comes from custom built routines. The possibilities are endless.

Creating Alexa Routines

Open the Settings section in the Alexa app and then open the Routines item.

Tap the + button in the top right corner to get started.

You need to enter the routine name, when the routine happens and what action to do.

In the routine that I just created you can see that when the door sensor opens Alexa will announce The door is open via the device called Echoshow. This is my Echo 5 device.

You specify more options. For example on which days the routine should be active and also you can specify the time range.

Once you have routines created, you can enable / disable them as you see fit.

The Alexa app also provides a number of handful functions related to Alexa Routines. For example, you can copy actions to a new routine or share the routine.

Viewing routine history

You can see the log of routine invocations. On the Routines screen switch to the Activity tab. You will the recent routines log there.

Sound Detection

Alexa can use sound detection as a trigger for routines. This function is in public preview and is not guaranteed to function correctly. In a nutshell, Alexa can detect various sounds and once that happens, she can invoke the specific routine. Currently the following are supported: Baby Crying, Snoring, Dog Barking and Cough. Unfortunately, I was not able to get them working except dog barking and even that would not detected flawlessly.

Availability

It must be noted that certain functions may not be available in all regions. For example Alexa Guard is not available here in Spain and to my best knowledge in other European Union countries. Motion detection and occupancy don’t work as well.

Conclusion

As you can see Alexa Routines is an extremely powerful capability that dramatically increases Alexa’s usefulness in automation. Your imagination is the only limit of what you can do with Alexa Routines and all these without any programming or coding skills.

Thank you

Thank you for reading. If you find this story useful, for more Alexa-related stories follow the Alexa Insider publication. See you next time.

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Everything related to Amazon Alexa and Alex-powered devices. Tips, tricks and the best Alexa skills to get the maximum out of your Alexa device.

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George Sazandrishvili

George Sazandrishvili

Co-founder and CTO at Presults, Inc — a self-taught, polyglot software engineer with strong entrepreneurial skills.

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