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Smart Home

Enable Alexa notifications to get package tracking alerts

Alexa can send you notifications when your Amazon order goes out for delivery. Here's how to turn it on.

Back in May, Amazon announced that notifications would be coming to select Alexa devices, like the Amazon Echo ($129.95 at B&H Photo-Video). While notifications have been available for Echo-to-Echo calling and messaging for a while now, these newer notifications are different: They allow third-party skills to deliver notifications to you, if you so choose. (See our list of the most useful third-party Alexa skills here.)

Here's how notifications on Alexa will work and how to enable them.

How Alexa notifications work

Aside from controlling your home or streaming music and podcasts, smart speakers specialize in giving you information -- answering questions, providing traffic or weather updates and connecting you to third-party services via skills. The next logical step is to allow those skills to push the pertinent information to those who choose to receive it.

Currently, the only notification available outside messaging and calling is for Amazon Shopping. This will notify you when something you have ordered from Amazon goes out for delivery.

Amazon also mentioned in the announcement that AccuWeather would be among the first skills to include notifications. With this, you might get special weather advisories, such as a tornado watch or severe thunderstorm warning. The Washington Post, Just Eat and Life360 are the other third-party skills that will soon roll out notifications. But with an API, any and all third-party skills will be able to deliver notifications. 

Notifications will be signaled with a chime and a pulsing yellow light on the light ring. To interact with Alexa notifications say the following.

  • Check notifications: "Alexa, what are my notifications?" or, "Alexa, what did I miss?"
  • Navigate through notifications: "Alexa, next" or, "Alexa, previous."
  • Delete notifications: "Alexa, delete all of my notifications."

If you're worried this is just another way for companies to deliver ads, fear not. Back in April, Amazon banned ads from third-party skills, though you may still hear the occasional ad when streaming music or in your Flash Briefing.

How to enable notifications

alexa-shopping-notifications

Taylor Martin/CNET

While notifications sound like they could be a free-for-all on a smart speaker, Amazon made the smart call to make notifications an opt-in process on a per-skill basis. That means you will have to manually opt in to notifications for each and every skill you want to deliver notifications to your Alexa speakers.

Notifications for third-party skills have yet to roll out, but to opt in to Amazon's shopping notifications:

  • Open the Alexa app on Android or iOS or go to alexa.amazon.com in a browser.
  • Expand the side menu by tapping the hamburger button in the top left.
  • Select Settings.
  • Under Accounts, select Notifications.
  • Click Shopping Notifications.
  • Click the toggle to the right of Shipment Notifications via Alexa to switch it to On.

With this enabled, whenever a package you have ordered from Amazon goes out for delivery, you will receive a notification on your Alexa speakers.

Create a Do Not Disturb schedule

It's unlikely -- though not impossible -- that a shipping notification will go off in the middle of the night. If you don't want Alexa notifications to disrupt your sleep, especially when third-party skills are added to the mix, you will want to create a schedule for Do Not Disturb.

To do this, open the Alexa app on your phone or tablet or go to alexa.amazon.com in a browser. Then:

  • Click the hamburger button in the top left to expand the menu.
  • Select Settings.
  • Under Devices, select one of your Alexa speakers.
  • Under Do Not Disturb, select Scheduled.
  • Click the toggle beside Scheduled to enable a schedule.
  • Click Edit.
  • Set a start and end time for Do Not Disturb and click Save Changes.

Now you won't hear an audible chime when new notifications roll in after hours, but you will still see the pulsing yellow light. This will also affect calls and messages, but alarms and timers will still go off, even with Do Not Disturb enabled.