What's new with Alexa (November 2018)

Alexa, add the lamp to the living room group."
Organize your smart home devices into groups and control them all with one command. Just ask to create a group or add and remove devices from your smart home group.

Not exactly an exciting new feature, but can give you hopes on possibilities in the future.


Interesting. It is nice you don’t have to go into the app to do this.


I never thought of “groups” like that before. Like I made a group called “All Inside Lights” and one for “All Exhaust Fans” but for some reason never thought about making groups for rooms. I’ll have to play with it.

That and creating some routines…for some reason I just manually give it 3 or 4 commands in a row and they are usually the same things every night.

Tagging @Glen_King

The nice things about groups based on rooms is if you have an Alexa Device in that room, you can say “Alexa turn off the lights” and she will turn off only the lights in that group with the Alexa device.


I haven’t been able to create/edit groups on the mobile app since the redesign came out.

But now you can do it just by saying, Create a new group! Very nice

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Thanks for the tag, JD.

While Smartthings and Alexa both utilize the same gadgets and certainly are tightly interwoven, I treat them as separate systems in a way.

Smartthings is about automating processes within my home, while Alexa is about using my voice to control things within my home. As such, after a few months of using Alexa I deleted all my rooms in Smartthings. Because I found there was often a conflict, and the ‘natural’ thing is to use natural names with your voice.

Doing this makes your Alexa configuration much more flexible, while not diminishing automations in any fashion. And it really pays off when using an ecobee (or two, as I do) and various lighting systems like Hue… so when you do new discoveries of devices in Alexa or Hue or whatever, there are no conflicts that mess with your voice control.

I do have some rooms defined in Webcore, but that operates strictly for automations and is not accidentally callable via Alexa.

Edit: on thinking a bit, perhaps I was tagged because in the past I said we should be able to use voice to build rules? This would be the start of that, wouldn’t it…

True! I’ve been doing it through the website (which is only marginally better than the app now a days).

“Alexa, how do I create a Routine for Echo Buttons?”
With Routines for Echo Buttons, control your smart home devices, music, and more, with the push of an Echo Button.

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Yay! We bought two buttons last year on some introductory promotion and have never used them. But I’m pretty sure they’ll be dog friendly. :dog:

At two for $20, these are a nicely priced big Button if you don’t mind the color Light. (Note that they must be paired to an Echo to work.)


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If you have a group that includes an Amazon Echo, you can now set a preferred/default speaker for music playback. For me, my choices are Sonos speakers or Multi-room music groups. You set the preferred speaker by going into the particular group and scrolling to the bottom.


Is the idea here that you can tell one device to play music and it starts playing on another?

Yes, for example; I have Sonos 5.1 and an Echo dot in the same room. If I wanted to play Spotify on Sonos I would have to specify the name of the device I wanted it to play on before ending the command, if I did not music would play on the Echo Dot itself. Now I would just say play Spotify and it would automatically play on the intended device you setup.

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Ah nice, don’t seem to have that option yet hopefully mine updates soon. Been looking forward to this for a while.

Not sure when this took effect, but if you have multiple temperature sensors in a group when asking Alexa the temperature of that group/room, Alexa will respond with the average temperature of your devices.

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Amazon didn’t announce the feature that I know of, I just happen to come across it while in the app.I tried it today, but no music played on anything until I specified the speaker, so maybe there putting some final touches on it before it’s released to everyone.

Looks Like they added a wait function to Alexa Routines


One little thing at a time…


So far, Alexa has evolved to include alot of goodies especially the ability to invoke Alexa actions and responses programmatically. I am waiting on the ability to define more device types such as fan, heater, etc. I have Echo devices in most rooms and some rooms I have 2 or 3 (Tablet, Echo and FireTV for example). Would love to be able to just say, “Alexa, turn on the heater”…

The groups are SUPER cool!

Alexa, what’s the temperature in here?
Alexa, turn off the lights.
Alexa, watch Netflix.
Alexa, pause, play, etc.
Alexa, play my music, plays on everything downstairs!

Hmmm, what else can you do with groups?