Siri, Cortana, Bixby, and the Google Assistant are all digital assistants, but Amazon uses Alexa in its Echo and Fire TV devices, as well as third-party speakers and gadgets.
Echo speakers show Alexa’s powers. Echo only needs Wi-Fi and power. There’s the orb-like Echo and Echo Dot, the high-end Echo Studio, and now touch-screen Echo Show gadgets. The arrangement is basically the same.
Alexa app download
Free on iOS, Android, and Amazon’s Fire OS devices. First- and second-generation Fire tablets aren’t supported.
Setup a Device
Alexa requires an Amazon account, not Prime (Opens in a new window). App sign-in. Click More, then Add a Device. You can add smart lights and plugs to Alexa here. Amazon Echo is our emphasis, so use it. Select your Echo on the following screen; it covers practically every Echo made since 2014, even discontinued models. Charge your Echo.
The Echo’s light ring or bar flashes blue and orange in setup mode. If there’s no orange, hold Action for 5 seconds. Alexa will eventually say it’s “now in Setup mode.” Hold the microphone and volume buttons for 20 seconds until the light turns blue to enter Setup mode.
Amazon can preserve your Wi-Fi credentials—the network’s SSID and security password/code—so you don’t have to enter them every time. If you’ve done it before, Amazon Echo Wi-Fi setup is easy. Once the app identifies the new Echo, press its name (such Echo Dot-BG8) to watch it search for Wi-Fi, connect to your stored network, and confirm it’s on the network.
If you didn’t preserve Wi-Fi details, it’s different (or you did, but want to set up the Echo on a different Wi-Fi network, even in the same location). Choose your chosen Wi-Fi network from the list that appears on your phone or tablet. If requested, enter your Wi-Fi password. (Password-protect the Wi-Fi.) Here you can keep Amazon network credentials.
Once all the info is delivered, Alexa says “Your Echo is ready,” and the orange lights turn off. Set Echo’s language and location.
Amazon’s Fire tablets and Kindle ebook readers save Wi-Fi passwords. Here’s what Amazon does with Wi-Fi credentials. If you change your router’s Wi-Fi password, you must replace the Echo’s stored password.
Use “Alexa.” to command your Echo device. In the mobile app, go to Settings > Device Settings > [Your Echo] > [gear icon] > [Wake Word]. You can’t alter all Wake Words at once. Connect your Echo to music applications, external speakers, and other Echo devices (for multi-room audio playback).
The Echo Show line’s screen makes setup easier—no phone app is needed. The basics remain: Plug it in, choose a language, connect to Wi-Fi (and enter the password if it’s not saved), and log in to your Amazon account.