Smart Home

Finally! Alexa can change the color of your smart lights

Alexa's new native color controls will work with Lifx, TP-Link and Philips Hue smart bulbs -- no extra skills or invocation words necessary.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Alexa-compatible, color-changing smart bulbs from Philips Hue and Lifx.

Amazon's virtual voice assistant Alexa shares a lot of the same novelty appeal as color-changing smart lights from names like Philips Hue, and if you're a fan of both, then here's some good news -- she can finally change their color upon command.

Until now, Alexa's software only allowed her to turn smart lights on and off or dim them up and down. Today, Amazon is expanding that software, with new native tools that let her change the colors of bulbs from Lifx, TP-Link and Philips Hue without any extra skills or invocation words. Just say, "Alexa, make the lights blue," and voila, she'll make your smart lights blue.

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If your smart bulb has multiple white-light settings, you can now change between them using Alexa commands.

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You can also ask her to change the color of individual lights or groups of lights, so long as you stick to the nomenclature you've established in their respective apps, and in the Alexa app. Amazon says she'll understand over a hundred different colors and shades -- including tones from the white light spectrum.

That last bit is interesting, since the white light spectrum has thus far represented a bit of a sticking point for voice-activated color changes. Apple HomeKit made color control an early point of focus back in 2015, when Philips Hue synced up with Siri for voice-activated color changes, but to this day, she still can't recognize white-light tones like "soft white" or "daylight." That's not a problem with Alexa's new controls -- you can even ask for incremental adjustments, a la "Alexa, make the kitchen lights a little warmer."

Live today, Alexa's new color controls should also help her compete with the Google Home smart speaker, which can already change the colors of compatible smart bulbs. The update also applies to any color-changing bulbs that you're controlling via the SmartThings connected home platform.

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