Smart plugs can now be designated as Lights in the Alexa app

Amazon has made a minor but very useful change to how smart plugs are configured in the Alexa app. You can now specify that certain plugs should be treated as lights. This is especially handy in the context of device groups because it means you can now include a lamp connected to a smart plug in your group as a light. This means you can now have smart plugs turn on when you simply ask “Alexa, turn on the lights,” which was not possible before this change. To configure a smart plug as a light, edit its settings under the smart home section of the Alexa app and look for the new “type” option.

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Ikea’s inexpensive smart bulbs are now compatible with Amazon’s Alexa

Ikea entered the home automation market earlier this year with a new line of products called TRÅDFRI, which means “wireless” in Swedish. With a hub that costs just $29.99 and smart bulbs that start at $11.99, they are among the least expensive ways to add smart lights to your home. At launch, the product line only worked with Ikea’s app and $14.99 physical remote, which greatly limited their appeal. Now the TRÅDFRI has gained compatibility with Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant, as well as Apple HomeKit and Google Home, making them much more appealing to Amazon Echo and Fire TV owners.

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Ecobee announces smart light switch with built-in Alexa and numerous sensors

Ecobee just announced their brand new ecobee4 smart thermostat with Alexa built-in, but what was more surprising was the announcement of an all new product to facilitate, what they’re calling, “whole home voice.” The new product is an ecobee smart light switch with integrated temperature, occupancy, and daylight sensors. As if that weren’t enough, the light switch has microphones and speakers for full built-in Alexa functionality. Read more ›

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Ecobee4 smart thermostat officially announced with built-in Alexa for $249

Ecobee has officially announced the ecobee4 smart thermostat with built-in full Alexa capabilities. To be clear, this isn’t just a smart thermostat that can be controlled by Alexa, but rather, it’s like having an Echo Dot attached to your wall that happens to also directly control your home AC and heater in a smart way. The ecobee4 has a microphone, speaker, and lightbar to facilitate Alexa communication, as well as a touchscreen and smartphone app for its standard thermostat interface. Read more ›

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Amazon adds native smart lock support to Alexa

Amazon has announced the addition of smart lock control to Alexa’s repertoire of native abilities. The voice assistant has been able to control WiFi enabled door locks for several months, but it required using Alexa Skills and hubs like the Samsung SmartThings Hub or Wink Hub. With the addition of native support, you’ll be able to simply say “Alexa, lock the front door” without having to use a skill. The new feature also supports lock queries, so the voice assistant will tell you the state of your lock by asking “Alexa, is the front door locked?” Locks from August, Yale, and Schlage already support the new feature.

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Alexa can now finally read thermostat values without needing to use a Skill

Amazon’s Alexa has been able to directly control smart thermostats for over a year now, but one glaring omission has been its inability to tell you anything about the thermostats current state. While you could always ask Alexa to set a temperature, you couldn’t request what the thermostat was set to or request to hear the actual current indoor temperature, leaving many to resort to using third-party Alexa Skills for those tasks. Amazon has now finally updated their Alexa Smart Home Skill API to support thermostat requests. Read more ›

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Alexa now supports Scenes for smart home devices

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Amazon’s Alexa smart home assistant now has the ability to turn scenes off and on. Scenes allow customers to issue a single voice command that set a predefined configuration to several different smart home devices. Saying “Alexa, turn on bedtime” for example could turn off lights, dim other lights, and set a nighttime temperature on a smart thermostat.

The new support for scenes is similar to the existing groups feature, but it’s distinctly different. For starters, the groups feature can only turn devices on or off, not configure a specific setting. Second, scenes are configured through a device manufacturers app, not through the Alexa app, like you do for groups. So, if you have a smarthome hub, for example, that already supports setting scenes to control multiple devices at once, Alexa can now tap into those scenes and let you extend that control to your voice.

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Amazon’s Alexa can now control Lutron’s Caséta smart lights

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Lutron’s Caséta line of connected light switches and plugs are the latest piece of home automation hardware that can be controlled by Alexa on the Fire TV, Fire TV Stick, and Echo family of devices. You will need either the Lutron Smart Bridge or Wink Home Hub to fascilitate the comunication betweeen Alexa and the switches. Like most smart home devices, once their setup to work with their own apps, simply link them with Alexa using the Alexa app and you’ll be able to control them with your voice.

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Alexa will be able to control Nest and Honeywell thermostats this month

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Last month, Ecobee3 became the first smart thermostat compatible with Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant. Now, along with the announcement of the new Amazon Tap and Echo Dot, Amazon has revealed that Alexa will gain compatibility with Nest and Honeywell thermostats later this month. It’s been possible to control smart thermostats like the Nest with the Amazon Echo and Fire TV indirectly through an IFTTT recipe for some time, but the method has always been missing key components to make it a viable solution. With built-in support added by Amazon, you’ll soon be able to control most aspects of these smart thermostats with your voice.

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Ecobee beats Nest to be the first smart thermostat that works with Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant

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It seems like every week Alexa on the Amazon Echo and Fire TV is gaining more and more ways to control smart home devices, and this week is no exception. Ecobee, makers of the 2nd most popular wifi thermostat, second only to Nest, have announced that Alexa on the Amazon Echo can now be used to control the Ecobee3 thermostat. As you’d expect, owners of the Ecobee3 can say “Alexa, set my thermostat to 72” or other similar phrases to easily change the temperature. It’s unclear at this time if Alexa on the Fire TV and Fire TV Stick will also gain this new ability.

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