Amazon Echo - Siri thing from Amazon because their phone bombed


I have two (one bought, one gift) and I use them every day, albeit for a limited range of things. I think part of our disagreement may be that I’m not counting native functionality like Prime music streaming as a skill. Mostly, the core functionality is useful and well implemented. Though things like sports scores are still desperately limited, for no good reason. The only UK soccer it know about at all is the Premier League. If I want to find out who Oxford United are playing next, I have to ask OK Google. And good luck with less popular sports.

But, for instance, on recipes/cooking, I’d be interested to hear your experience. I don’t want something that just steps through a recipe, I want something I can interrogate on a random access basis (How much cream do I need? When do I put the chicken in?). None of the ones I’ve researched allow that sort of flexibility, and as a result aren’t any better for me than just having Pepperplate open on a tablet.

And, more generally, I wish Amazon would change their setup so skills in general, rather than a handful of curated ones, can respond to ordinary language questions, without having to do the whole “tell skill to x” rigamarole.


I do agree that the sports skills are limited even here in the States but they are improving. Considering that the Echo is still relatively new as a marketable tech and google has had forever to develop, its no surprise that OK google is better at information retrieval but the Echo is constantly improving, so I expect it will eventually get itself on par with things like that.

As far as smart home control, I know of no voice activated smart home device that does it better than Echo. The key here is voice activated. It may not be a big deal to some but I am disabled and the ability to voice control so many things in my home easily and effectively is very useful for me.
Anyway, like any new tech, the Echo has room for improvement but it seems like Amazon is putting a lot of resources behind this device and it has already improved substantially over the past year. As usual, peoples experience with the device will vary greatly. Some see it as a trivial and unnecessary toy, while other find it to be a very useful tool. But for the most part the friends and family of mine that own one really like the Echo and get good use out of theirs.

Finally I will say I am surprised at someone complaining about the Echo’s speakers. For a device its size and price, I find it to be quite impressive. Will it compete with a $2000 set of speakers? Of course not but what do you expect for 1/10th the cost? Plus if the Echo’s sound doesn’t do it for you, you can always get a Dot with the same functionality and add speakers to it.


I have some Aeon Labs smart plugs that Ive had for awhile for my smart things hub. They integrate well but if you change hubs, they are a bitch to factory reset to use with a new hub. I checked on Amazon and it appears they dont carry the Aeon Labs plugs anymore.


This is why I am playing around with the dot. I am wanting to play around with a receiver set-up in the near future and thought I would play with a dot now to see how it differs… which it shouldn’t.

I don’t have any hubs really, which is why I picked up a smart plug that functions on it’s own. I don’t like the app much at all, and what i can do with Alexa on it with the plug is disappointing… which looks like it’s the Wemo not the Alexa’s limitation.


Homekit/Siri is better than Echo at voice controls. Guessing you aren’t an iOS user, but for my smart home stuff, HomeKit works better than the native apps and allows you to set up various scenes easily. Then using Siri I just say the name of the scene and it turns on/off all the relevant lights. The Echo app just isn’t on par with HomeKit for the set up, and this makes Siri more powerful. (Yes Siri has many other weaknesses, but in home automation it works great). I still use my Echo for whole rooms, etc, and it is really good at smart home integration, but it still has a way to go.

As far as the speaker goes, its not stereo first of all. It is fine for podcasts, etc, but for music, it isn’t good enough. Music tends to sound a bit flat out of it. I bought the Echo before the Tap existed, if I did it all over again that would be the route I would go. But if the rumored Echo that has a screen and stereo speakers are for real, I am certainly going to get one for my kitchen.


rshetts might not be, but I’m an iOS user, not by choice. It’s my work phone, and I hate her. It never works the way I think it should. That’s just the phone. I’ve never used iOS for anything “smart” outside a phone, but I can’t imagine wanting to either.


Maybe try it and see how it works? HomeKit is awesome. You don’t have to like Siri, and I know there are problems, but I say a scene name and it turns it on instantly.

I don’t use Siri a lot otherwise, but I find it works fine for what I use it for. I just use it for reminders, timers, HomeKit and other small things. I see a ton of people complaining about Siri, but I am not sure what those people are doing where it fails that much. When I first got my Echo I did a series of questions between my phone and Echo, they did about the same. I guess my requirements are pretty basic compared to most?


Our needs are probably different. I’m a cable cutter. I purchase music. Amazon Fire TV isn’t a mild success like Apple TV, which is not the first round for Apple trying to get into TV. Apple caters to the consumer, but only the consumers that are already in their walled garden, and they have a long history of failed devices behind them when they try to reach out. Amazon has done nothing but expand their products. They don’t require me to buy v 2.0 to get the new features… they pushed out Alexa on every Amazon device I have, except maybe the older tablet. They add third party support like theirs no tomorrow. The only one that has left me scratching my head is the complete lack of Vudu and UVA.

I look at my work iPhone. It’s a brick of the device where Siri can barely understand what I’m asking, and I just don’t see myself want to expand on something I don’t like. Maybe Siri isn’t the face of Apple’s expansion into the Apple world of consumption of media, but Alexa is, and my experience with her is positive, even during the infancy… Siri I want to hurl out the window, but then I’d have to some explaining to do to my boss.


I am not an apple guy. Therefore I am not well versed with siri. I have the smart things hub running through the Echo and have no problem with voice control over my lights and switches as well as my garage door and front door. Siri may be great for home automation but I don’t see how it would be an improvement to how I use my Echo which does everything with home automation that I want it to, with no issues. I do not use scenes so that’s not an issue for me and I am not familiar with the Echo’s capabilities there. If it doesn’t run scenes, I am sure that it will sometime in the near future as the functionality of the Echo is constantly being adapted and upgraded. Im guessing your love for siri is more about familiarity than functionality, which is great. Use what works for you.


You are missing out if you aren’t using scenes. For instance I have presets for my office lights. If I am playing a dark FPS I have a gaming preset that turns off all but 2 lights and sets them to red and dimmed. When I am going to bed, I say “Bed time” and it turns on my bedroom lights and turns off all lights except one light on each room so I can see my way. Little stuff like that, it makes smart lights even better.

The Echo’s app just doesn’t have a lot of options for lights. It does work great for turning on/off rooms and individual lights though.


Assuming you mean how old iPads and iPhones that won’t run the newest version of iOS (or do, but barely)? I am all for that, I want the OS to get better and take advantage of the more powerful technologies.


No. I already mentioned device I was talking about. This generation of Apple TV is not their first attempt. Apple TV came out 9 years ago. Roku came after them, and then came Amazon Fire TV came out several years after that. You’d think a company like Google or Apple would be able to do better, but neither Google or Apple are blazing the path in this.

And I guess if you had earlier generations of the Amazon devices, which I assume you must not have, you’d realize how seemless that addition of Alexa has been. Those devices were pretty powerful to what was coming out from their competitors, and now they can add to it. All the Amazon devices seem to come out with the idea they’ll be expanded upon for years.


Pairing a Harmony Hub can do scenes like described with their activities, and thankfully are more integrated to Echo devices than the advanced features so you can say "Alexa, turn on " instead of "Alexa, tell Harmony to turn on ". I don’t have any smart home devices so can’t say how well it works with those, but I know one of the limitations is it purposely doesn’t let you voice activate door locks.

e: There’s also IFTTT integration which could probably do it without an external device, but I haven’t looked into that yet.


I just set up a bedtime routine to turn on my bedroom lamp, my bathroom light, porch light, close my garage door ( just in case I forgot to close it) and dim all to 30% while turning off all of my other lights. It works great. I now have routines for bed time, wake up and TV room. That’s something I should have set up months ago, so thanks for bringing it up!


To each their own I guess, but I don’t understand why you are calling it a failed device. Each generation seemed to be fairly well liked, especially the latest (besides the remote). Advancing the technology is not a failure. Each version added better, more advanced hardware. The Fire TV was very late to the market, so not really fair to compare it, and I have used my sister’s, its great compared to a Roku, but no where near as good as the latest Apple TV.

Amazon doesn’t hold the high ground on hardware either…look at the numerous versions of Kindle.


Are you using Philip’s Hue lights? Echo doesn’t do color as far as I can tell.


I’ve been a cord cutter since 2008. The offering from Apple and Google were subpar by far. Apple TV was fairly well liked by some Apple supporters not cord-cutters. Even fans of the two big OS have to admit that in that space, right now it’s Roku and Amazon, not Google TV and not Apple TV. Amazons entry into these spaces woke everyone up. They were half-assed under powered or barely powered devices before Roku entered the space, then Amazon came along and put some real power and stability behind them.

As for not holding high ground on hardware? Amazon is the leading e-reader by far, like it’s not even close if you look at the Nook. The tablets, in their space, they’re also the lead. I am not talking about the 300, 400 dollar tablets here… they created a low entry point with quality hardware. What do you mean they’re not on the high ground?

Echo pushed the idea of smart devices into the average home while the other big tech companies kept trying to sell things in tech magazines. I know people who own Echos who can barely work their smartphones and get confused about the difference between their router and their modem every time it comes up (not all of them use dual devices from their ISP). I mean these are people who don’t even really understand that Android and Google are linked, and they’re all asking for Echos.


The Apple TV is well liked with Apple users, so a pretty big audience. :-)

You were saying Apple TV is a failed device because, if I understand you correctly (I am not sure I do), it’s on the 4th generation because they keep having to release new hardware to include new features. By that standard, the Kindle e-readers are doing the same thing. They keep updating them to add new features. Does that mean the old one was a failure? If you are in the Apple walled garden, the past Apple TVs did what was needed to do quite well (and I thought the interface was better than a Roku 3). Was there room for improvement? Sure, but they still were popular enough. Hardly a failure.

Reading the Sweethome article, I am not sure if get the impression that the Fire TV is all that special. It’s good, but there are several options that seem equally as good for different users. In this whole category it really comes down to where do you buy your stuff, and get the player that supports it. I buy iTunes stuff, so an Amazon Fire TV is never going to be any good for me, and vice-versa if you are an Amazon buyer.

As far as the Echo, I like the thing. I am just not seeing what the big deal is for most people. And you need to be in Amazon’s walled garden to really take advantage of it (music and shopping). I keep reading about people who love the thing, and they aren’t doing anything different than I am, it’s neat, but limited.


I am not using Hue color, yet. Its something I want to get but the color version is still a bit pricey for me and it seems like more of a luxury/toy kind of item. Not necessary but fun to have. Being on a fixed income now means I need to pick and choose what I get, instead of getting what I want. Let me tell ya, that’s one crappy adjustment to make. I am used to buying what I want when I want and have always enjoyed new tech. Now I have to slow my roll a bit. Im sure I will eventually find the color kit at a price point I am comfortable with and at a time when I have the money for it but that time is not now. Most of my Echo stuff has been gifts, so my out of pocket expense on that hasn’t been terrible. Most of my smart bulbs and switches I have bought a few at a time and usually inexpensively. Its amazing what you can pick up at the Home Depot clearance rack. Over the past year I picked up a gen1 smart things hub for $50 and several of the GE Link bulbs for $8 a piece and several $10 plugs.

Oh I wanted to add that Echo doesn’t actually do color AFAIK but you can still do scenes with the Echo and handle color that way. It basically treats scenes as a switch with you hub, the hub does the heavy lifting. That may have changed though because I know that the Echo has recently added Philips hue compatibility.

and I checked out of curiosity and found out that there are a few hoops to jump through but you can control color with an Echo. Toms Hardware explains the process here if youre interested:,review-3471.html


What I am saying is what the data and history shows. Apple was early to the market but didn’t really get much of a footing.

It’s certainly got a chance, though, as the 2015 ‘final scores’ show Apple’s 20% of streaming media player sales sitting just 2% behind the sales figures achieved by both Google and Amazon with their respective Chromecast and Fire TV box/Fire TV stick solutions.

Apple will have to go some to catch market leader Roku, though. For as reported from the INTX Expo by, Roku claimed 30% of the streaming media player market in 2015.

What I’m saying is you’d think Apple and Google would have an one-up here, but both their early products barely made a splash, and it wasn’t until the arrival of Amazon and Roku that these two started actually putting in any effort or competition into the sphere at all, especially the arrival of Roku. Apple TV generation 1 wasn’t that good, and the options you enjoy now are because competitors showed up and forced everyone to start trying. And unlike Apple, you can actually play Amazon content on non-Amazon devices, and by that i don’t mean work-arounds but official channels.