Back in May, Amazon announced that notifications would be coming to select Alexa devices, like the . While notifications have been available for 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 .)
Here's how notifications on Alexa will work and how to enable them.
Editors' note: Originally published July 27, 2017, this post has since been updated to include third-party skill support for notifications.
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.
Amazon 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.
Currently, the only notification available outside messaging and calling is for Amazon Shopping and Domino's. These will notify you when something you have ordered from Amazon or your pizza order goes out for delivery.
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
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.
To opt in to 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.
Optionally, you can enable notifications from the landing page for a skill in the Alexa app. Open Alexa and go to Skills. Search for Domino's (or the name of another skill once it's updated with notifications) and tap Settings. Then tap Manage Permissions and give or revoke notification privileges there.
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.