Smart home guide: How to set-up your Amazon Echo or Echo Dot
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Smart home guide: How to set-up your Amazon Echo or Echo Dot

Internet of Business looks at how to set-up your Amazon Echo or Amazon Echo Dot – the virtual, voice assistants looking to make you, and your home, a whole lot smarter.

Out of the box, you need to take these simple steps to set-up your shiny new smart home device:

  1. Download the Amazon Alexa app (iOS, Android)
  2. Take out the Echo from the box and plug it into the mains with the attached power extension
  3. Wait for orange circle to appear on the LED light. This indicates the device is ready to configure with your Wi-Fi information. If you miss this window and the device starts complaining (the ring will turn purple), hold down the ‘action’ button (the button opposite the mute button on the Echo) for five seconds until it turns orange again
  4. Open the Alexa app and log-in with your Amazon account information
  5. Go to Settings, select your device and click ‘Update Wi-Fi’. Alternatively, if you’re adding a new device select ‘Set up a new device’.
  6. Manually input your Wi-Fi information – have your SSID and passkey ready! More information on trouble with connecting with Wi-Fi can be found here.
  7. Once connected to your local network, Amazon will present a series of other options, such as connecting to an external Bluetooth speaker, or to your Spotify or Amazon Prime accounts. Like any good advertiser, Amazon will also heavily recommend signing up a 30-day trial to Prime and Amazon Music Unlimited. Once you’ve completed all steps of the launch process, you are ready to go!

[If the app doesn’t recognize the Echo device, you may need to press and hold the ‘Action‘ button for five seconds to pair the two. The light ring changes to orange, and your mobile device connects to your Echo device. A list of available Wi-Fi networks then appear in the app.]

What you should do first with the Amazon Echo

Your Echo is now ready to go. What should you do next?

The first step I’d recommend is to go to the Amazon Alexa app to find out how to use the device with ‘Things to try’. Having tried giving Alexa a run on basic commands, the next thing I did was to change my Flash briefings. The reason? Often, asking Alexa for “Alexa, what’s new?” or “Alexa, play my flash briefing” would result in just sports news from Sky Sports – which was not ideal.

Under ‘settings’ and ‘flash briefing’, you can pick from a variety of news services, including BBC World Service, The Guardian, Sky News, The Telegraph and many more, even prioritizing these by your preferred order. Sadly, IoB isn’t there for IoT news…yet.

I’d then set-up your calendar, which is useful for not only adding items to your diary but also checking what’s coming up in the next week.

To connect to your Google calendar (no Outlook support sadly, so your best bet is an IFTTT recipe which pulls new Outlook items into a designated Google calendar), head to ‘settings‘ and then ‘calendar‘ in the browser interface. You’ll need to authorize access to your calendar, but otherwise the set-up is easy.

Now comes the fun stuff – Skills. Simply head to ‘Skills’ in the app and enable and disable as you see fit. The first hour of my set-up saw me bounce from the practicality of The Guardian, National Rail and Uber, to the ridiculousness of Bartender, Damn Girl and Anti-joker (I’ll leave you to explore those for your own amusement).

There’s a lot to choose from, although not a great number of reviews on many so you’ll probably have to take a gamble with some.

If you have other smart devices around, like Nest and Smart Things and Philips Hue lights, you can connect to these from the app to control your lighting, heating amongst other things. To get these working, activate and connect the relevant Smart Home skills from the app under the smart home skills section.

There’s plenty more you can do – for instance, you may want to change the wake word if ‘Alexa’ isn’t right, and you can do this from device settings. But for now, enjoy!

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