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. 


Amazon cuts prices on the Apple Watch Series 3 for Presidents’ Day

The Apple Watch Series 3 is seeing the same price cut we saw during the Amazon sale just last week. So if you're hoping to pick up an Apple Watch for less than $250, this $50 discount from Amazon can make that happen for you.

Here are 20 portable tech gadgets you’ll want to use every day

If you're looking for portable tech to keep you charged up while on the go (or for some great small gift ideas), we've rounded up 20 must-have gadgets. You'll find everything from a mini gaming controller to a folding Bluetooth keyboard.

Amazon slashes prices on Fitbit Versa smartwatches for Presidents’ Day

Amazon is offering a solid $30 discount on this great fitness tracking smartwatch right now. So if you're looking for a wearable that can help you track steps, sleep, and activity, now is a great time to pick one up for less.
Smart Home

What exactly is Alexa? Where does she come from? And how does she work?

While "Alexa" has become synonymous with products like the Amazon Echo, you can't actually go out and buy an "Alexa." So what is Alexa? How does she work? Here's everything you need to know about Amazon's virtual assistant.
Smart Home

Miele stuns KBIS 2019 with wireless probe, self-descaling java pot, and more

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.
Smart Home

Amazon’s wall clock is back on the market after Bluetooth snafus

Amazon's Alexa-enabled Wall Clock was a minor disaster when it was finally released in December because of widespread Bluetooth connectivity challenges. After some tweaks, it's now back on sale for $30.
Smart Home

The Nest Secure included a microphone no one knew about — except Google

The Nest Secure home security system has had a microphone this entire time that no one knew about, except Google. The company claims the mic was never turned on, but customers are outraged.

From folding phones to 5G -- here's everything we saw at Galaxy Unpacked

Samsung's Galaxy Unpacked event treated us to a real parade of technological excellence, from folding phones to new fitness wearables. Here's everything we saw at Galaxy Unpacked on February 20.
Smart Home

Leviton’s Wi-Fi Load Center and Smart Circuit Breakers give your home a brain

Is your home ready for a brain transplant? Adding individual smart plugs is quick, easy, and inexpensive, but the benefits are limited to one plug at a time. Leviton's Load Center and Smart Circuit Breakers can give your home a brain.
Smart Home

GE Appliances shows off wall oven with built-in air fryer, food dehydrator

GE Appliances is taking the air fryer trend to its logical conclusion and adding one to a wall oven. The company's new oven, on display at this year's Kitchen and Bath Industry Show, also includes a food dehydrator.
Smart Home

Google Home vs. Amazon Echo: Which one is better for you?

What happens when you compare the Google Home vs the Amazon Echo? Both smart speakers have good qualities, but what happens when you compare they're features side-by-side? We think one of these smart gadgets wins over the other.
Smart Home

OK Google, what else can you do? The best tips and tricks for Google Home

The Home functions in a similar fashion to its main competitor, the Amazon Echo, but has the added benefit of select Google services. Here are few tips to help you make the most of the newfangled device.
Home Theater

Reasons not to mount a TV over your fireplace (and other helpful tips)

Mounting a TV above your fireplace may be popular and it might even seem appealing, but we have some concerns. We've got a list of reasons why placing your digital picture machine over a fire should be avoided, if at all possible.
Smart Home

Colored fridges are back, baby! GE’s new appliances revive the 1950s trend

GE Appliances is coloring us surprised at KBIS 2019 by introducing new hues for its signature Cafe line of smart home appliances including four new hues launching this fall to complement its black and white options.