Wouldn’t it be great if the movement of your smartphone from one location to another could trigger events like light and thermostat adjustments, notifications, and other automated responses?
Oh, but they can!
Alexa’s location-based routines let you tie multiple smart home actions to your phone’s location. With geofencing, you can set your personalized entrance music to blast as soon as you walk through the door. Or just have the lights and the AC turn on when you arrive as most people. You do you 😁
How to create location-based routines with Amazon Alexa
To begin creating routines, open the Alexa app for Android or iOS, tap the menu button in the top-left corner, and select Routines. To make the location-based routines work, you'll first need to give the Alexa app access to your location. Once you've done that, you can set up routines or reminders that will kick in when you cross over a geofenced location - like turning off your lights when you walk out of the door.
To add a new routine, hit the + button in the top-right corner.
When you select "when this happens" you’ll see five options:
- Voice: Triggers the routine with a phrase of your choosing, such as “Alexa, goodnight”
- Schedule: Triggers the routine at a specific time on specific days (including just weekends or just weekdays).
- Device: Triggers the routine through a supported contact or motion sensor (this currently requires a 1Home Box or Echo Plus Hub).
- Arrive or leave: Uses your phone’s geolocation to trigger a routine at home, work, or a specific address.
- Echo Button: Smack one of Amazon’s push buttons to trigger a routine
Choose "Arrive or leave" from the list of possible triggers and follow the on-screen prompts.
After you’ve set up the trigger, you can start selecting actions to go with it by hitting the “Add action” button, which brings up several options:
- Alexa says will make your Echo say something out loud. This can either be a custom phrase or one of several preset utterances, such as a joke or a salutation.
- Calendar will have Alexa read the current day’s agenda, tomorrow’s schedule, or just the next event.
- Device settings can adjust Alexa’s volume, stop audio playback, or toggle Do Not Disturb mode.
- E-mail will make Alexa read your email summary.
- Messaging can either send a custom notification to the Alexa app, or broadcast a custom message to Echo and Fire TV devices.
- Music will play a song, artist, or playlist from your choice of Amazon Music, Spotify, iHeartRadio, Pandora, or TuneIn. (If you don’t see all these options, sign in first through Settings > Music in the Alexa app.) You can also set a timer to make the music stop automatically after a while.
- News will have Alexa read your Flash briefing, which itself can be customized through Settings > Flash Briefing in the Alexa app.
- Smart Home can control your smart lights, locks, thermostats, and more, assuming you’ve set them up with Alexa already. (If you’ve created any Groups under the Devices tab of the Alexa app, you can also control everything in a given at once.)
- Traffic will have Alexa read a traffic report, assuming you’ve set up commute details through Settings > Traffic in the Alexa app.
- Wait will make Alexa pause for a given amount of time between actions. This one is extremely useful for creating a nap routine, setting up smart coffee machine after waking up or emulating double button presses for garage doors.
- Weather will make Alexa announce the local forecast.
But wait, there’s more!
Thanks to an update from Amazon, Alexa devices can perform time- and location-based reminders as well. If you set up a reminder based on location (e.g. "Alexa, remind me to take out the trash when I get home”), Alexa will provide it to you on cue. If you're not near an Alexa device, you'll get a push notification through the Alexa app.
Here are some ideas for using geofencing with Alexa:
- “Alexa, remind me to take the laundry out of the dryer when I get home.”
- “Alexa, remind me to defrost the burger meat when I get home.”
- “Alexa remind me to check the mail when I get home every Wednesday.”
- “Alexa, remind me to print the concert tickets when I get to the office.”
- “Alexa, remind me to pick up groceries when I leave work.”
- Set up a routine that kicks off automatically when you arrive home:
- turns on the lights
- sets the thermostat to your preferred temperature
- Alexa says “Welcome home!”
- Turns on your favourite playlist
Do you already use geofencing with Alexa and you’d like to share your use-case? Send it over to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll add them to the list. Who knows, we might even reward you with a discount 😉