Amazon Echo Overview And Setup
Amazon Echo is an increasingly popular voice assistant that can do many things from playing music, reading out the news highlights, answering general knowledge questions to managing your smart home! The list is endless. In fact, you can write your own Alexa Skill to add something of your interest, if you are up for it. In this tutorial, we will provide an overview of the Amazon Echo and setup.
Amazon Echo Overview
Amazon Echo is a family of products with the following common capabilities. All of these products use the Alexa Voice Service behind the scenes, which runs in the cloud.
- It can be used as a speaker. Of course, the power provided by a smaller product like an Echo Dot may not match it’s big brother Echo. But, it may still be useful for some basic needs.
- It also supports audio out.
- It can be paired with a Bluetooth speaker.
- Calling other Echo devices.
- Making free domestic and some international calls (see details).
- The Echo is not just a device. It is a platform backed by the Alexa Voice Service, which opens a world of possibilities. Some of the commonly used capabilities are.
- Asking Alexa questions on current affairs and general knowledge.
- Using Alexa skills, which offer various capabilities, such as voice-based games, entertainment, trivia and so on.
- A variant of Alexa skills is smart home integrations. You can easily integrate Alexa with various smart devices and smart hubs to make a voice-enabled smart home. For example, if you have installed Alexa enabled lights in the kitchen, you can simply say “Alexa, turn kitchen lights on” and Alexa will do it for you.
The Amazon Echo family also offers display-enabled products like the Echo Show, which add video-based capabilities like
- Video calls
- Integrating with smart cameras, such as smart doorbell to use the camera
Equipment and Budget
Note: The prices shown are based on data at the time of writing this article. Taxes and shipping are not included in these and actual cost may vary.
|Amazon Echo Dot||$49.99||1||$49.99|
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Amazon Echo Setup
Follow these steps to set up an Amazon Echo. In this illustration, we are using an Amazon Echo Dot.
- Connect the Amazon Echo to power. In a few moments, it will start showing a blue ring.
- Download and install the free Alexa app.
- Launch the Alexa app and choose Settings from the menu on the top left.
- Choose the Device Settings.
- Initially, the device list will only have the Alexa on this phone entry.
- Click on ‘+’ and choose the Add Device option.
- Choose the Device Type. In this case, we will choose the Amazon Echo.
Note: This screen also lets you add Alexa-compatible devices from the other vendors.
- Choose Echo Type. For this tutorial, I will be using an Echo Dot.
- Choose the Echo Dot model.
- Now, we are ready to begin the setup. Click on the Continue button.
- Wait for the Echo to show a ring of orange light. When the orange light appears, click on Continue.
- The Alexa app will prompt for connecting to the Echo’s WiFi hotspot.
- At this point, we need to connect to the Echo’s WiFi hotspot.
- Come back to the Alexa app and in a few seconds, it should show a checkmark to continue to the rest of the setup.
- Now, we will configure the WiFi network the Echo should connect to. Choose from the Network list or specify another network using the Other network option.
- Specify the WiFi credentials.
- The Echo will now try connecting to the Internet using the specified WiFi network. This may take some time.
- Once the Echo has successfully connected to the Internet, you should see a screen like the one shown below. Click on Continue to complete the remaining steps. Most of these you can skip.
- Optional: Specify a location for the Echo device.
- A couple more screens may be shown to do optional setup and finally, you should see a screen to indicate that the setup has been completed.
- The Echo should now appear on the list of devices.
Test Your Echo
Your Echo device is now ready for use. You can test it by asking a simple question like “Alexa, what is the time?”
Controlling Smart Devices Using Alexa
Once you have your Amazon Echo configured, you can use it to control Alexa Enabled smart devices. The idea here is you can use Amazon Echo or Alexa to interact with these devices. For example, to turn on the kitchen light, you can simply say “Alexa, turn the kitchen light on”. Quite a few vendors support Alexa Enabled devices now ranging from smart lights, outlets, thermostats, cameras to locks. Use the following steps to add smart devices to Alexa.
- Open the Alexa App and go to Settings.
- Click on Devices.
- You can now see a list of current devices. Click on the ‘+’ button to add a new device.
- Follow the on-screen instructions to add the device.
What is even neater is at times you may have multiple Amazon Echo devices in your home. But, you need to add the device in the Alexa app only once. And, then you will be able to control it from any Amazon Echo registered with Alexa.
Enjoy a voice-enabled smart home!
Also published on Medium.