You don't need an iPhone or Android phone to use the Amazon Echo. Windows 10 is also Alexa's friend!
The Amazon Echo is not a smart home product that is reliant on a mobile device to operate. Once set up, the Echo is entirely voice activated and it's very good at it. You simply use the app to pair it to your WiFi, adjust settings and add or remove skills.
OK, so there's a good amount of interaction through an app, but you don't need the app to make it do things throughout the day. And the best thing of all is that Amazon has a web app for Alexa that does everything the Android and iOS apps do. So you can use an Echo with Windows 10.
Updated December 2016: We've added more detailed set-up instructions to help you get your own Echo working through Windows 10!
Before you get too excited there are a couple of caveats, the first is that you'll have to set it up through your desktop browser. Unless you're a weird outlier like me an using a smaller browser like Opera, you'll probably be supported — if your browser's not, Edge will work just fine.
Setting up using your browser is fairly straight forward:
- Go to https://alexa.amazon.com in your browser.
- If you're not already, log in.
- Plug in and turn on your Echo.
- Wait for the Echo's ring light to turn orange. The Echo should appear in the Alexa web app, as it's was automatically attached to your Amazon account when you ordered.
- Hold down the action button on the Echo for 5 seconds.
- Select your Wi-Fi network in the web app.
After a few seconds, your Echo will be set up and you can begin talking to it!
What you get inside the Alexa web app is a very simple to use layout to manage all your key Amazon Echo features. If you're using an Echo it's mostly a given you're also a Prime subscriber, and this will be your default music service. In the UK, Echo has support for Spotify Premium, but that's it.
If you held off thinking you couldn't use it because you like Windows, then don't worry
Come on, Groove Music, let's join the Echo party! You can use Groove over Bluetooth from your phone or PC, but it's not quite the same.
It's here where you add Skills to Alexa, too. These are the additional features the Echo can make use of, like controlling your smart home appliances, hailing an Uber, delivering a news brief from different sources and even have someone come and collect your dry cleaning. Again, the UK is probably a lot more limited than the U.S. right now, but what it does it does extremely well.
And all this in regular use without touching a phone — just say "Alexa…" and issue your command or ask your question. You can use the web app to keep a visual track on such items as your reminders and shopping lists, alarms, playlist history and even what Alexa has been asked. But none of this is necessary to just use the Echo, it's all value added. And you can look at it all in the browser on your PC or tablet.
So, an Amazon Echo might be mildly less convenient to set up for those of us who don't carry an iPhone or Android phone regularly. But set up is about the only real hiccup, after that it does all the other Echo things. If you've held off because you think you can't use it because you prefer Windows, you need not. This tubular speaker with benefits is a wonderful product and I'm enjoying using one a great deal.
Now, Alexa, play some Iron Maiden.