Logitech has updated the Alexa skill for its Harmony line of universal remotes, making it very easy to control your home theater with your voice if you have an Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Show or Dash Wand. The Harmony skill used to require that you asked Alexa to tell Harmony to perform a lot of commands, but now you can just speak to Alexa directly, using simple commands like “Alexa, turn up the volume,” “Alexa, turn on Netflix” or “Alexa, turn on ESPN” to get your home theater setup to do exactly what you want.
The simplification seems like a small one (it’s only three fewer words vs. the previous “Alexa, ask Harmony to…” phrasing), but it’s actually hugely beneficial in practice. The voice commands are much more natural this way, for one, and new users won’t have to get accustomed to adding in the additional Harmony request. And over time, the added simplicity makes a difference in terms of just generally making it easier to interact with your Harmony system via voice.
This also includes direct commands to skip forward, play and pause media playback and rewind, so it’s a complete replacement for a physical remote. I’ve already been using the Harmony skill with my Echo, and I can attest to its existing utility – it’s probably the thing I use my Echo for most, aside from maybe controlling my Hue lights.
To get this skill going, you just need to enable the “Harmony – Optimized for Smart Home” skill in the Alexa app (and you also need a Harmony hub-based remote, of course). If you already have that skill enabled, you should be good to go right away, since it won’t require any update or changes on the user’s side to get working.