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Smart Home

Amazon Echo's auto features will make your day smooth as buttah

From the moment you wake up to the minute you fall asleep, Alexa can make your life easier.

alexa-app-routines

The Alexa app makes it pretty easy to create routines -- and there's room for creativity.

Ry Crist/CNET

If you're not an early bird, rolling yourself out of your warm, cozy bed in the morning can be a challenge (yes, I'm speaking from experience). Fortunately, you can customize routines on your Amazon Echo ($100 at Amazon) that help you get your day started, smart home-style, rather than hitting snooze for the umpteenth time.

Customized routines can include making the lights brighter in the morning, reporting the traffic for your daily commute and playing your favorite songs -- basically automating all the things you would usually do anyway.

The goal of Alexa Routines is to make your day easier and more productive. Alexa can perform several actions that you've grouped together when you give just one command -- much easier than trying to remember everything you need to do or barking out requests one at a time. Here's how to get started.

Create a routine on your Echo

1. Open the Amazon Alexa app on your phone and tap the menu.

2. Tap Routines.

3. Tap the plus sign that says Create Routine.

4. Select When this happens and choose how you want to trigger the routine. These are your options:

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Screenshot by Katie Conner/CNET
  • Voice: Your voice command will begin the routine. For example, "Alexa, I'm awake."
  • Schedule: Set a time for Alexa to begin your routine. You won't need a wake word for this.
  • Device: Alexa will complete the actions using your Amazon Echo Hub.
  • Location: When you arrive somewhere, like home, Alexa can begin your routine for that location.
  • Alarm: When you dismiss an alarm, your routine will begin.
  • Echo Button: Press your Amazon Echo Button to start a routine.

5. Type in something like Good morning or Goodnight. This will be the word you say to Alexa when you'd like your Echo device to begin a routine.

6. Tap Add action and select everything you want Alexa to do during this routine.

Hey, Alexa, help me wake up

Alexa can start your morning routine before you're even awake. Set a schedule that tells Alexa to slowly start turning up lights and start brewing your coffee. Once you're awake, say, "Hey, Alexa, good morning" to trigger your morning routine. Set actions so that the Amazon Echo will read you the weather, give your email summary, run down what's on your calendar for the day and let you know what's going on in the news.

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Make your commute more enjoyable

Your favorite morning commute playlist is essential to waking up (aside from all the coffee you just drank). You can tell Alexa to start playing your wake-me-up music, and if you commute through a busy city, it could also be useful to have Alexa read the traffic report. 

Use a voice command like, "Hey, Alexa, I'm commuting to work" to activate Alexa. You might also want to add an action that tells Alexa to turn off your smart lights and plugs too, just in case you forgot.

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You can make sure your lights turn on when you get home.

Tristan Rinehart/CNET

Turn on the lights when you get home

Wouldn't it be nice to arrive home to a well-lit house, rather than trying to navigate up the dark stairs leading to your front door? You could set up a voice routine, but we like the location routine for this one. 

You'll just need to select Location from the options and enter your home address so that getting near your home will trigger the routine. Once you've done that initial setup, you can add actions to the routine like turning on the porch lights when you arrive home.

Fall asleep faster

Once you're cozied up in your bed and ready to snooze, start your bedtime routine by using another trigger phrase -- it can be something like, "Alexa, I'm ready for bed." For this routine, you'll want to make sure you've enabled the action that lets Alexa turn off your lights. 

If you typically have a hard time falling asleep, use the Music action to play rain sounds or relaxing music. You can play songs and playlists from your Library, Amazon Music, iHeartRadio,  Pandora and TuneIn. Don't forget to set a timer to turn the music off so it's not playing all night.

Want more Amazon Echo pointers? Here are our favorite six essential Amazon Echo tips you'll use every day.

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Amazon Echo (2017,Heather Gray Fabric)
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