It’s been 87 years … (okay, three), but Amazon has finally updated its Alexa app. The revamp is rolling out fully this week to iOS and Android devices, but it started this summer with some small changes you may have already spotted. The end result is an app that’s more streamlined and more tailored to smart home control. And while it’s not appreciably faster (boo), it is considerably more intuitive and easier to use (yay).
I’ve not been quiet about my disdain for the Alexa app’s (lack of) capabilities. But this new app and the new Map View feature that launched last month, combined with the increased smart home control capabilities of the Echo Show 8 and the new Echo Hub, could convince me to try it again as my smart home daily driver.
According to Amazon’s director of smart home, Charlie French, the redesign’s primary focus is putting smart home controls front and center. “We’ve seen great momentum with smart home. We now have millions of customers with over 20 devices connected. So, this is about making it as easy as possible to access their devices,” he said in an interview with The Verge.
The new app is less cluttered and has fewer cutesy Amazon illustrations. It now looks less like an attempt at being a personal assistant and more like a dedicated smart home app.
Here’s a rundown of the biggest changes:
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The Home tab now has clear organization, as opposed to the random “most relevant” and “recently used” items it showed previously. It’s also customizable, so you can pick what you want to see and use, not what Alexa thinks you want to see.
There are now three distinct sections for smart home / Alexa control, all of which you can edit.
The top row of the Home tab is now a sideways scrollable list of shortcut buttons for smart home devices and Alexa tools like Music, Shopping Lists, and Drop In. You can edit this and choose from around 17 different shortcuts.
Shortcuts for device types like lights, locks, and climate take you to a list of the devices you have in that category, where you can control them. The shortcut also shows a device’s status, such as how many lights are on and the current temp. French says this info is currently limited to users with less than 20 devices but will be coming soon to “the power users.”
The Activity tab comes next; French says this shows time-sensitive cards for info like smart home alerts, timers, alarms, and any reminders you have set. You can expand this section, but it takes up less space by default than the previous activity section. Plus, you can dismiss the cards, and the whole section goes away completely when it’s empty.
Favorites has moved from the Devices tab and is now front and center on the Home tab, letting you instantly control devices like lights and locks with one tap as soon as you open the app.