I’m fairly sure half of Ireland now has an Amazon Echo Dot if not the full-on Echo itself. Which means most of the country is now looking at this odd little hockey puck device and wondering what the hell they need to do with it. Here’s how to setup your Echo Dot (and yes, it’s the exact same for the Echo).
Download the Amazon Alexa App
It’s with great pleasure I can tell you that this app is now available in Ireland. For an absolute age, Android users had to sideload the app and iPhone users could only access their Echo and Echo Dot through the mobile website. Easy updates and full access to all of the Alexa smart assistant features; what a time to be alive.
Create an Amazon Account
Setting up an Amazon account is nice and straightforward While the Alexa App and Amazon’s hardware is now supported here in Ireland, we’re still heavily dependent on Amazon.co.uk as there’s no Irish website available. So to create your Amazon account, either go through the Alexa App or head on over to Amazon.co.uk.
Once you’ve got the account set up, you can log in to the Alexa App. From here, follow the pairing instructions.
Pick Out Some Alexa Skills
Right, so your Echo Dot is setup and connected to your app. Now you’ll need to get some Skills.
What Are Alexa Skills?
Brands and companies create Alexa Skills to let you access their services. In the UK, Echo Dot owners can book taxis and order their takeaways through Skills like Uber and Just Eat. Skills will open up a world of opportunity but right now they are somewhat limited in Ireland, mainly down to the fact the Alexa App has just been made officially available in Ireland.
Flash News Briefings, which are like Skills but purely dedicated to news, sports and weather updates, are a little more prominent in Ireland. RTÉ have a news and weather Flash News Briefing, while we even have our very own tech Flash News Briefing.
Skills will certainly become more available in Ireland over the coming months as brands and companies get to grips with the sheer number of Echo Dots which are now in Ireland.
This is a no-brainer. If you’re a Spotify Premium subscriber, add your account to Alexa. You’ll then be able to play millions of tracks through either your Echo or Echo Dot.
Connect Your Smart Home Devices
Now, this is where the real fun starts. The Alexa App has a one-touch feature to find smart devices on your network. So, if you have WeMo Smart Plugs or Energenie MiHome Smart Plugs, your Echo Dot will find them automatically and you can easily control them with your voice. For optimal effect, plug your sitting room lamp into one of these smart plugs to control the room lighting.
I can personally recommend Energenie Smart Plugs. We’ve been using both WeMo and Energenie for well over a year and both are great. The main difference is that Energenie is much more affordable so you can buy more and automate more areas of your home. Once you have a few places automated, you’ll really start to have fun by setting up Routines.
Routines let you have several things happen by issuing just one voice command. For example, in the morning, I’ll say “Alexa, good morning”. My Echo Dot will then:
- Turn on the lamp
- Say good morning back to me
- Give me a weather update for my locality
- Give me live estimated commute time to a set location
The idea behind routines is that you can effectively turn on and off you’re entire home with one voice command or at least anything that’s got a smart connection.
Play Around With It
Don’t be afraid to try some new things with your Alexa. There are some great games on there and even some easter eggs to enjoy. Here are my favourite hidden gags.
Best Echo Dot Easter Eggs
“Alexa, more cowbell.”
“Alexa, are you Skynet?”
“Alexa, who loves orange soda?”
“Alexa, volume 11.” (caution: very loud if you’ve got the Echo or Echo Dot connected to external speaker)
2018 is the year of the smart speaker and is going to be the first year in which Amazon’s Echo and Echo Dot can be fully taken seriously in Ireland now that they have official support here. Expect to see plenty of Amazon Apps appearing from Irish businesses towards the middle of the year.
If you haven’t picked up a smart assistant yet, here’s my verdict on which one to go for: