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.