Skip to main content

Alexa will trick or greet you with custom doorbells this Halloween

Your smart home’s cameras and doorbells can now make event-driven announcements via Alexa with new programming tools announced on Amazon’s developer blog.

For example, if a doorbell camera motion sensor detects someone approaching, an Alexa routine could turn on the lights, play some music, and even make a custom announcement such as, “Sorry kids, we’re all out of Halloween candy, but be sure to come back next year!”

The new Amazon doorbell application programming interfaces (APIs) are now available in the U.S., with other areas to follow.

Prime Day Focus
Roborock Prime Day shopping guide: Lots of options, which is right for you?
Is the Bluetti AC200L the best power station for camper vans?
These Razer Blade Prime Day deals really pack a punch [in gaming power]
Tiny projector, epic 4K cinema: Watch movies anywhere with LG CineBeam Q

Developers can update their Alexa smart home skills toolkit with the new Doorbell Event Source API, the Motion Sensor API, or both. After developers update their devices, their customers can use the Announcements feature in the Alexa app’s device settings smart home section.

Amazon also announced that Ring and August have both already enabled the new APIs. Amazon purchased Ring, the smart video doorbell company, in April. August, a smart home door lock company, was an early Alexa-compatibility partner. If you already configured Ring or August devices to work with Alexa, updating the related apps and software should set you up to configure devices in voice announcement routines.

Amazon also announced a third new API set, the 2-Way Communications API. With the communications API update, developers can enable their smart cameras and doorbells to use voice for two-way conversations via Amazon’s Echo Show and Echo Spot.

If your smart home configuration includes a full-duplex camera and an Echo Show or Echo Spot, this new capability means you’ll be able to carry on a conversation with someone standing at your front door. If you have a half-duplex camera, you’ll have a push-to-talk capability.

According to Amazon, Ring already enabled the 2-Way Communication API and August will reportedly follow soon.

If it seems to you that Amazon Alexa skills and developer tools are coming in torrents, they are. The list of Works with Alexa and Alexa-inside device continues to grow with devices developed in-house and from third parties.

Amazon’s recent announcement of 12 new Alexa devices added smart plugs, a microwave and a clock, a subwoofer, amplifier, and receiver, new Fire TV, a new generation of Echo devices, and even a device for your car.

Bruce Brown
Digital Trends Contributing Editor Bruce Brown is a member of the Smart Homes and Commerce teams. Bruce uses smart devices…
Blink Mini 2 vs. Ring Stick Up Cam Plug-In: Which budget security camera is best for you?
The Blink Mini 2 placed on two books.

Blink and Ring are two of the best-known security companies, and they're responsible for many of the best security cameras on the market. The Blink Mini 2 and the Ring Stick Up Cam Plug-In are popular choices for frugal shoppers, as they carry reasonable price tags, yet offer most of the features you'd expect from a well-rounded camera. But if you only need one, which is right for you -- the Blink Mini 2 or the Ring Stick Up Cam Plug-In? Here's a look at both to help you decide.
Pricing and monthly fees

The Blink Mini 2 is one of the most affordable security cameras money can buy. It clocks in at just $40, though Blink often slashes its price to just $30. If you'd like to use the camera outside, you can bundle in the Weather Resistant Adapter for a total of $50.  The Ring Stick Up Cam Plug-In is more expensive at $100, though with the launch of the Stick Up Cam Pro, it's typically available for $70.

Read more
Stay cool this summer with these smart home tips and tricks
Ikea's Fyrtur smart home blind

Warmer weather is finally arriving in most locations across the country, bringing with it pool parties, summer vacations, and plenty of outdoor fun. And if you're looking for a way to make your life easier this summer, now's a great time to upgrade your smart home. From adding a smart thermostat to your home to installing a smart sprinkler system, there are plenty of ways to build a smart home that's designed to handle the summer heat.

Ready to save money on your electric and water bills? Here's are ideas on how to upgrade your smart home this summer, as well as other tips to help around the home.
Upgrade to smart shades

Read more
Yale Keypad Touch lets you control the front door with your fingerprints
The Yale Keypad Touch installed on wooden siding.

Yale released the Approach retrofit smart lock last month -- the first-ever retrofit lock from the popular company. This month it's following up with the Yale Keypad Touch, a wireless accessory that lets you control the Yale Approach with nothing more than your fingerprints.

Because the Yale Approach smart lock doesn't include a keypad, most shoppers will want to add one to their purchase. Without a keypad, you'll be left controlling it with your smartphone. Yale previously let you bundle in the Yale Keypad with the Approach, turning it into something more akin to a traditional smart lock.

Read more