What is Amazon Alexa?
Amazon Alexa is Amazons Artificial Intelligence that can work across multiple devices (Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, Fire TV, etc.) and can be used to answer questions asked by voice and control home automation devices by voice.
What is Amazon Echo?
Echo is a Bluetooth speaker that can sit in a room and comes with microphones and Amazons AI Alexa that can be used to answer questions by voice and control music playback and home automation devices by voice.
What is Amazon Echo Dot?
The Echo Dot is the little brother of the full size Amazon Echo. It is a smaller, cheaper device that lacks the full size speaker of the Echo. It includes the same microphones and Alexa AI as the full size speaker. While it also includes a small speaker, the speaker isn't good enough for quality music playback, but ok for answering voice commands and alarms. However the Echo Dot can be connected to better quality speakers (hifi system, AV receiver, bluetooth speakers, etc.) via either a 3.5mm audio out connection or over bluetooth.
Can I buy the Amazon Echo/Dot in Ireland?
No, not directly. However you can buy it from Amazon UK and get it shipped to Ireland by either Parcel Motel, Parcel Wizard or Address Pal shipping services.
How do I set the Echo/Dot up?
You either use the website alexa.amazon.co.uk or you use the Alexa app for iPhone or Android. The easier way is to use the website, but see below for more information of the mobile apps.
Can I use alexa.amazon.co.uk on a mobile browser.
Yes, initially it will tell you to use the app, however you can use your mobile browsers optino to display the desktop version of the website, it will work fine.
Can I get alexa app for iPhone?
The Alexa app isn't available on the Irish Apple App Store, however it is reltivaly easy to temporarily change your app store to the UK App Store and download it from there after which you can change it back to the Irish app store.
Can I get the alexa app for Android?
The Alexa app isn't available in the Irish Google Play Store. However it is possible to install the app by downloading the app to your laptop and sideloading the app to your Android phone. You can do a google search for more details on how to do this.
Will I be able to use my Irish address in the app?
Sort of. Amazon uses the Microsoft Bing Maps for it's addresses. Bing Maps address database for Ireland is very poor. Your address might not work, however you might find that a near by street address will work.
Will commuting times work?
If you manage to set your home and work address (see above answer), then yes you will be able to get commuting times.
However Amazon uses Bing Maps, so commuting times aren't as accurate as Google Maps and also you can't get commuting times by walking/cycling/public transport.
Will I be able to ask for the weather in my location?
Yes, though you will have to specify the location:
"Alexa, what is the weather like in Dublin?"
Note you will have to specify "in Dublin" "in Cork"
Will I be able to play music using Spotify Premium.
Yes, and in general it works well. For instance:
"Alexa, play music on spotify"
"Alexa, play rock on spotify"
Note the you have to specify "on spotify" each time.
Will Spotify Free work on Echo
No, it requires a premium account.
Can I play music out in multiple rooms if you have multiple Echo/Dots?
No, however you can change the room it is playing in by saying "Alexa, resume Spotify" in the room your are currently in and it will start playing in that room.
Will I be able to play Irish and UK radio stations?
Irish radio stations are extremely buggy and mostly don't work by voice control. It is extremely hard to get it to play the usual Irish radio stations.
UK radio stations work ok, for instance:
"Alexa, play BBC Radio 1 on tunein"
Notice that you have to specify "on tunein" for each station.
A work around for Irish stations is to select the station by the Alexa app or website and then you can pause it by voice.
If you listen to the same station every day, then you can select the station via the app or website first time and from then on use the follwoing vocie command to play it:
"Alexa, resume tunein".
Does it support other music services?
Yes, it also supports Amazons own music service, however that can require a UK credit card like Revolut to get working in Ireland.
Does it support playing music from a phone via Bluetooth?
Yes, Amazon Echo can work as a basic Bluetooth speaker.
What Home Automation Services does it support?
Many, including but not limited to:
- Philips Hue (smart lights)
- Belkin Wemo Smart Plugs
- Netatmo/Hive/Tado/Nest Smart Thermostats
Does it work with IFTTT?
IFTTT is currently not working in the UK and Ireland. However it does work on Amazon US Echo's so it will likely come eventually to UK and Ireland.
However an alternative service Yonomi does work with Amazon Echo and works very well.
Does it work with Logitech Harmony Remotes?
Basic support (turn on/off activities only) works in US Echos, but not UK and Ireland yet. However you can get the same level of support for Harmony in UK and Ireland using the excellent Yonomi app.
More to come.......