With ‘Routines,’ Amazon Alexa performs multiple tasks with just one command

Alexa Routines is now able to play music and podcasts

You can already ask Amazon Alexa to order you a pizza after you get home from a long day at work. But what if you could ask her to order you a pizza, turn on the lights, and play some relaxing music  — with just a single command?

Amazon announced in September 2017 the addition of Alexa “Routines,” which allow users to ask the voice assistant to complete a series of customizable actions with just one directive. For example, say, “Alexa, good night,” and she’ll turn off the lights, lock the door, and turn off the music. You can also create routines based around the time of day — meaning that in the morning, Alexa can turn on your lights, your coffee maker, and your flash briefing — all with a command of your choosing.

And now, Amazon has added a new music feature for Routines, which means that when you say “Alexa, good night,” your favorite smart assistant will not only prepare your home for the evening, but will also play a relaxing playlist so that you can fall asleep quickly. The new feature will allow Alexa to automatically begin playing your favorite artist, playlist, or podcast from any Alexa-enabled speaker. And luckily, you can also control the volume of your audio so that your morning alarm is louder than your evening piano concerto.

Currently, supported music services include Amazon Music, Spotify, Pandora, Deezer, and TuneIn.

The Routines feature also works with connected lights, plugs, switches, and door locks, and will be available for all Alexa devices — including the all-new Echo, the previous-generation Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Show, and the new Echo Plus.

Also, if you’re tired of your Echo not understanding your commands because you failed to name the exact device you want turned on or off, Alexa has solved that problem, too. The intelligent assistant can now recognize what you’re asking her to do without all of that extra information. You can place your Echo and smart devices into smart home groups, which will enable Alexa to act intelligently upon your request. For example, when you walk into the kitchen, you can say “Alexa, turn on the lights” rather than “Alexa, turn on the left side kitchen overhead lamp.”

Furthermore, Amazon recently beefed up Alexa calling and messaging to include free outbound calls to numbers in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Just say “Alexa, call Stephanie’s mobile,” and Alexa will call Stephanie from your smartphone’s contact list. You can also give Alexa a phone number manually for calling places not on your contact list, such as restaurants or dry cleaners.  The feature is now available for all Echo, Echo Dot, and Echo Show customers.

Updated on April 4: Alexa Routines will let you play music, too. 

Product Review

4K in home security is finally here, thanks to Arlo’s Ultra UHD smart cam

The 4K home security camera is finally here! Class-leading image clarity and a super-wide field of vision makes Arlo Ultra an early contender for the year’s best smart cam. While there are definite quirks to the device, the device…
Smart Home

From the kitchen to the bedroom, here are the best Alexa tips and tricks

Amazon's voice assistant Alexa has plenty of neat skills. So many, in fact, it seems like new ones appear every day. We've rounded up the top Echo tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your virtual assistant.

Amazon and Best Buy halve the price of the Facebook Portal for Mother’s Day

Amazon and Best Buy both cut the price in half for the Facebook Portal smart display for Mother's Day. The Portal's smart camera will follow you as you move around the room during video calls. The Portal also has Amazon Alexa built in.

Looking to upgrade? These are the best iPhone deals for April 2019

Apple devices can get expensive, but if you just can't live without iOS, don't despair: We've curated an up-to-date list of all of the absolute best iPhone deals available for April 2019.
Smart Home

Alexa, Google, Siri put their bilingual skills to the test in translation battle

One Hour Translation, an online translation company, compared how Google Home, Amazon Alexa, and Siri stack up against one another in regard to translation capabilities. The results may surprise you.
Smart Home

I have seen the future, and it’s full of salad-making robots

Think that robots bussing tables, tossing salads and baking bread is a futuristic concept? It's actually not as far away as you might think. Robots took center stage at a food robotics summit in San Francisco this week, where they showed…
Smart Home

Ecobee leverages humor in a heated discussion with climate change skeptics

Ecobee cranked up the heat on climate change doubters. In observance of Earth Day, Ecobee and ad agency DCX released video of a social experiment that tested the effectiveness of humor in easing tension during discussions with skeptics.
Smart Home

Miele stuns with wireless probe, self-descaling java pot, and other new products

Miele rocked KBIS 2019 with waves of new appliances and features. The annual Kitchen and Bathroom Industry Show is all about product launches and Miele's appliance reveal was like New York Fashion Week with a single designer.

Shark, Ecovacs, and Roomba robot vacuums get price cuts for spring

The weather's getting nice again, and we're all emerging from our winter-long hibernation. So it's time once again to also start on that spring cleaning you've been putting off. But who really wants to clean when you'd rather be outside? We…
Smart Home

Echo Plus (1st-gen) vs. Echo Plus (2nd-gen): How exactly do they compare?

Which Echo Plus should you buy? This guide compares the first-generation Echo Plus its latest successor, allowing you to get a better idea regarding the ins and outs of each device.
Smart Home

Making hard-boiled eggs isn’t hard — here’s how to do it perfectly every time

With the help of science or some kitchen gadgets, making hard-boiled eggs can be a little easier. It may not be the hardest task in the world, but a few of these methods are foolproof.

Amazon and Best Buy smash prices on August smart home security locks

Amazon and Best Buy have the lowest prices for two August smart home door locks during a limited time sale. August was one of the first smart door lock companies designed specifically for smart home convenience and security.

The best Amazon Prime Day 2019 deals: Everything you need to know

Amazon Prime Day 2019 is still a few months off, but it's never too early to start preparing. We've been taking a look at the best discounts from previous Prime Days to give you our predictions of what to expect this year.
Smart Home

Get baked while you bake with these clever cannabis cooking gadgets

Ready to step up your edibles game? Here are the best cannabis cooking gadgets for your kitchen, from an "Instant Pot" for your cannabutter to the best grinders and decarbing devices on the market. Check out the full list for more.