(Pocket-lint) – “Alexa, tell everyone it’s time to go!” Wouldn’t it be nice if Alexa could help you hurry your family along or maybe announce that dinner is ready?
Families with Echo devices in their home can do just that with the “Alexa Announcements” feature that’s been available for a couple of years.
Here’s what it is and how it works.
What are Alexa Announcements?
With Alexa Announcements you can ask Alexa to make announcements on all compatible Alexa devices in your household. Think of it as a one-way intercom, where no set up is required.
People nearby an Echo in your household will hear a short chime to indicate there is an incoming announcement, and then the announcement will play in the voice of whoever is making the announcement. Cool right?
Beyond just Echo devices, Alexa Announcements can also be made to devices where Alexa is signed in – so that can include the likes of smartphones with the Alexa app, as well as Fire tablets.
How do Alexa Announcements work?
Create your own announcement
To create an Alexa Announcement, simply say “Alexa, announce”, and then say your announcement aloud. You can also say “Alexa, broadcast”, and again, tack on your voice message at the end.
So, for instance, you can say, “Alexa, broadcast ‘the movie is starting.'” Everyone in your home within earshot of an Echo device will hear a chime followed by you saying, “the movie is starting.”
Use stock announcements
Or you can simply say to your Echo device, “Alexa, announce that dinner is ready,” and “Dinner is ready” will then be announced in your voice, along with a ringing dinner bell, to all other compatible Echo and Alexa devices in your household. You can also say, “Alexa, tell everyone…” to make an announcement.
You’ll find that Alexa will add sound effects where the announcement is recognized. For example, you can try the following:
- Dinner is ready
- It’s time for bed
- It’s time to wake up
- Let’s watch TV
- … and plenty more
Can I exclude devices?
If you want to exclude a specific device within your household, say, in the bedroom where your husband is sleeping, Amazon said you can use the Do Not Disturb setting. Learn more about Do Not Disturb.
Why is my announcement not complete?
There are two ways to send an Alexa Announcement. The first is single phase: “Alexa announce dinner time”, the second is two phase where you say “Alexa announce”, Alexa replies with “what’s the announcement”, when you say “dinner time”.
Alexa never knows which you’re going to use, so can sometimes take it as a two phase announcements when it’s actually a single phase announcement – meaning the announcement then misses some of what you say.
Sometimes the system can just go wrong, occasionally just broadcasting the very end of what you’ve said – this is especially common if there’s a sound involved. The best way to ensure your message is accurate is to use the two phase approach and wait for Alexa to say “what’s the announcement?” before you say what you want to say.
Which Echo devices support the feature?
Alexa Announcements are available across Amazon’s entire lineup of Echo smart speakers. Third-party Alexa devices aren’t included, but the Alexa app is on smartphones and in Fire tablets.
Can Google Home do announcements?
yep Google offers this same functionality for its Google Home line of smart speakers. To use the feature, you just say, “Hey Google, broadcast ‘It’s time for dinner!'” and your message will be sent through – but in the Assistant’s voice, not your own.
Writing by Maggie Tillman. Editing by Chris Hall.