A handy guide to the new Alexa app

How to navigate Amazon's new smart home control centre

Your guide to the new Amazon Alexa app

Amazon has officially begun the rollout of its Alexa app to Android and iOS users, and you might have already noticed it's been given quite the makeover.

What was once a cluttered home for your wider smart home control has now been streamlined, complete with a brighter colour scheme and updated sections to help make the app easier to use.

Read this: Amazon Alexa missing manual

The revamp also doesn't come totally out of the blue – this is Amazon's way of freshening things up in line with its latest swath of gadgets, including the third-gen Amazon Echo Dot and second-gen versions of the Echo Plus and Echo Show.

And while this is all well and good, it means that new users are going to be flooding in to the app and Alexa app veterans have a new look to get used to. Whichever category you fall into, it's all very straightforward stuff, and this guide will help you understand each new area of the app.

Your guide to the new Amazon Alexa app

Get to grips with the new layout

The main layout of the Alexa app is fairly unchanged, with tabs on the bottom row still denoting the Home menu, Communication, Alexa, Music and Books, and Devices. The aim here, naturally, is to let you shoot straight into the four key areas involving Alexa, as well as letting you control her from your phone.

So, let's work from left to right here. You have the Home menu, where the top banner will give you suggestions of what to ask the smart assistant and below will sit all your recent interactions. So, when you ask for your personalised sports update, the stream will pop up with the recent scores or upcoming fixtures of each team you've selected within that briefing. These cards represent all your actions across all your chats with Alexa-enabled devices, so it's a handy place to look back on info you've previously asked for.

What you'll also be able to see here is the icon in the top-left, which acts as your sliding menu on all of the main tabs. It can send you straight into other tabs, but it's also your place to tweak settings (more on that later) and routines, view your contacts, set reminders and alarms, access Skills and games and get some help and feedback.

Your guide to the new Amazon Alexa app

The next section is purely dedicated to Communication, letting you make a call, send a message or enable Drop In from the app. Once you tap through, you'll be able to perform the above three actions to any of your contacts who also have the Alexa app. You may not spend too much time in this section of the app, but it's a nice place to keep up with any messages/calls you've had.

Essential reading: How to set up Alexa Drop In and Calling

Third along the row is that Alexa control we mentioned just above – tap it and you'll be able to control your connected devices through your phone. And next to that is your hub for music and books, with Alexa now showing your recently played podcasts, music or radio shows and below that giving you a stream of cards filled with suggestions and recommended skills.

In truth, aside from the new splash of paint, these main sections are largely unchanged – mainly just presenting more concise information on the page. However, one big change has come to the Devices section. This now makes it much easier to see which devices you have paired (lights, plugs, thermostats), and below that you'll see the different groups you've put them in.

So, if you have four lights in your kitchen, the redesign now allows gives you at-a-glance looks at their statuses as well as the option to jump straight in and control them.

Your guide to the new Amazon Alexa app

Creating groups and routines, and adding devices with the new Alexa app

Since this is the bit of the Alexa app that's changed the most, let's cover exactly how you'll now be interacting with the devices section and actually controlling your gadgets.

Add a new device

If you have the 2018 Amazon Echo Show or either generation of the Echo Plus, this is still as straightforward as it was before – simply ask Alexa to search for devices and it'll immediately sync up with any compatible that are in range. If you've got a Zigbee-less Echo, you'll need to set up the device individually before heading to the Skills tab, signing in, and giving Alexa control. The device will then appear in the stream, along with the others.

You can read much more in our guide on how to set up your Alexa smart home.

Create a new group

Of course, the neat thing here is that you now get easier control of a range of devices. Groups can be created by tapping the + icon and choosing a name (as Alexa suggests, this is typically easier to control by grouping devices into rooms), and once they're set up they can all be controlled as one with just your voice.

One example is lighting, where you can add all the bulbs fitted downstairs into a group and control it with, "Alexa, turn off downstairs lights", before you head to bed. Since you might not want every light turned off or on, so you can also separate them into other groups: "main lights", "kitchen lights" and so forth.

Create a new routine

This is slightly different to creating a group, and can be done with the sliding menu accessed through the top-left icon. From here, you can tap through to routines and meld multiple actions into a single command.

So, if you say, "Alexa, I'm home" it can turn all your downstairs lights on. How is this different to a group? Well, it allows you control over the actual state of that device, meaning you can adjust how bright the light is. Routines also include the ability to add music or podcast choices to the ensemble.

Read our full guide on how to use Alexa routines for more information.

Your guide to the new Amazon Alexa app

Change your account settings

Sometimes, you just need to do some Alexa admin, and you can do this by swiping over to that sliding menu and selecting the Settings bar.

From here, you can access the nitty gritty of your Alexa account, including a (deletable) recording of every single interaction the assistant has picked up, the option to toggle Brief Mode, Kid Skills, Voice Purchasing, notifications for reminders and manage your privacy.

It's also the home of all your linked accounts – so, where you can change your logins, the default services for music, TV, calendars, lists and more. It's also here where you can sign out of the account and let somebody else take a spin on the home controls, or you can learn all about setting up multiple Alexa accounts.


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