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Alexa now lets you play music with smart home Routines

Amazon has a new music feature for Alexa Routines — those automated sets of linked smart-home actions you can initiate on Echo speakers with timers or voice commands. For example, you can assign the phrase “Alexa, good morning” to a Routine that gradually brighten the lights, open the window shades, and start the coffee maker if you already own all the prerequisite gear. Now you can further enhance the mood with music by automatically playing your favorite artist, playlist, or podcast from the Alexa-enabled speaker of your choice. Thankfully, you can also control the volume, because you almost certainly don’t want to hear the morning news read back to you at the same decibel level as last night’s dance party.

Example of an Alexa Routine.
Image: Thomas Ricker / The Verge

Music services supported include Amazon Music, Spotify, Pandora, Deezer, and TuneIn. No, Apple Music is not on the list.

I just tweaked my “Alexa, good morning” Routine to set the volume to 1 (out of 10) before my Echo Dot reads back my weather forecast and Flash Briefing (which is set to Techmeme headlines). Then, when all the news is done, it plays my Discover Weekly playlist on Spotify through my living room Sonos speakers. Importantly, the Routine tells Spotify to use “shuffle mode” so that I don’t hear the same songs every morning (Spotify refreshes the Discover Weekly playlist every Monday). I tried this with Spotify’s Daily Mix playlists but Alexa doesn’t recognize them for some frustrating reason.

If you own an Echo device and aren’t using Routines yet, you really should be — they’re one of the easiest ways to unlock the potential of a smart home, even if you only own a few Hue lightbulbs. You can learn more about setting up Alexa Routines here.

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