Amazon has finally added a feature to the Alexa that many people have long wanted: favourite devices.
There’s still a way to go before the app is as good as, say, Apple’s Home app or the LIFX app but at least you now have quick access to switch plugs on and off when you don’t want to talk to Alexa.
The new feature, which has been rolling out over the past week, is designed exactly like the widgets you see in iOS and in the Home app. You should see a pop-up notification announcing it, and if you then go to the Devices tab you’ll see six devices (if you have that many) which can be turned on and off, or adjusted in some way, directly from that screen.
It’s a shame Amazon hasn’t put this on the Home screen, or added the option to choose which tab is displayed first when you open the Alexa app, but it’s better than nothing.
Also note that you can only pick individual devices, not groups. Hopefully Amazon will add this option along with a search function, because for people like me with dozens of smart lights, plugs and Echos, it can be hard to find what you want by scrolling through a long list.
Admittedly, though, that’s not a problem for most people.
A seemingly random selection of six devices is chosen so if you want to pick different ones, here’s what to do.
- Launch the Alexa app and go to the Devices tab. Update your app if you don’t see the Favourites section. (The feature may not be available yet in your country, but we know it is in the UK and US so far.)
- Tap Edit.
- Tap the blue star next to any devices that you don’t want to appear as favourites. They will be removed when you tap Done.
- To pick other devices tap + Add New from the Edit Favourites screen.
- Tap the devices that should be favourites from the list. It’s divided into lights, switches, cameras, thermostats and Echo devices.
- If you pick more than six, you can swipe left to see the next set of six on the Devices tab
- The only way to control multiple devices with Favourites is if they already appear as a single device in the Alexa app. One example is ‘All Hue Lights’. Unfortunately it isn’t possible to pick groups at the moment.
- To control a Favourite device, just tap on it. If it’s a light which is currently off, tapping will turn it on. If any of your favourites have more options, such as brightness and colour, you can tap the three dots to see and adjust those.