Alexa’s routines are getting a musical upgrade. First launched last year, routines allow Alexa device owners to string together a series of actions that kick off with a simple command — like “good morning” or “I’m home,” for example. Until today, the feature included support for news, weather, traffic, smart home skills, as well as, more recently, a set of “Alexa says” commands that let you add a little personality to a given routine. Starting today, Alexa can play your favorite music, podcast or radio show in a routine, too.
To use the feature, you’ll select an artist, playlist, album or station from your music library or one of the supported streaming services. Currently, the supported services are those that already work with Alexa — Amazon Music, Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, Saavn, Deezer and TuneIn.
Amazon says you’ll also be able to create a volume action to control the audio output on your device.
The addition has the potential to make routines more useful for those who like to have music in their home on a more regular basis. For instance, if you like to start your day with a playlist that gives you energy, you could create a “good morning” routine that turns on your lights and smart coffee maker, then starts playing your favorite upbeat songs.
You also could create a routine for relaxing that includes more soothing music or a nighttime routine that locks the door then plays sleep sounds. A party playlist could be included in a routine that puts your smart light bulbs into a flashing disco mode or crazy colors.
But music isn’t the only option — because some of the services support radio shows or podcasts, those can now be integrated into your routines, too. For instance, a “welcome home” routine could play your daily briefing followed by a podcast or favorite radio show from TuneIn.
Although Alexa gained the ability to run routines before its rival, Google Assistant, Google’s version already supports music, podcasts and radio. So Amazon is playing a bit of catch-up here. In addition, Google Assistant routines can also pick up an audiobook where you left off — that’s oddly not one of Alexa’s routines options today, even though Alexa can read to you from your Audible library. Presumably, Audible support in routines is in the works.
Music is an increasingly important business for Amazon, so better integration with Alexa makes sense. The company this week told Billboard it now has “tens of millions” of paid customers, confirming earlier reports that it has become the third-largest music service behind Spotify and Apple Music.
The ability to customize routines with music and other audio content will be available within the Alexa app for iOS and Android. However, the feature is just now beginning to roll out — so you may not see the option immediately.