The Amazon Echo Dot is a smart bluetooth Alexa-enabled speaker which allows you to listen to music, play fun games, set important reminders and alarms, and complete smart home tasks.
The speaker has its companion app, Amazon Alexa, for enabling skills and interacting with all your Alexa-enabled devices. The Echo Dot is a suitable choice for you or your family if you want something small on the outside, but big on the inside, and for a cheap price between $50-100USD.
If this is your first time using the Amazon Echo Dot, you'll need to set it up first. This will be explained later in this quick start guide.
What's in the Box
The Amazon Echo Dot is contained in a rectangular box about the size of a small laptop. Upon opening the box, you will find the following (keep in mind contents may vary by country or seller):
- Quick Start Guide (in print)
- Amazon Echo Dot: This will be covered in a layer of tape, simply rip it off to fully expose your speaker.
- Power Adapter: The device must be plugged in at all times in order to operate. Unplugging will device will turn it off completely.
Amazon Echo Dot Physical Overview
The Amazon Echo Dot is shaped like a hockey puck. Depending on which Echo Dot you have (first, second or third generation), there may be fabric around the outer area of the speaker, and puck sizes may vary. The 3rd Gen is the biggest of the pucks that you can get right now.
Keep in mind that Echo Dot physical layouts may vary. I have an Echo Dot 3rd Gen, so I'll be referencing its physical overview here.
As you slowly run your hand across the fabric outer portion, you'll encounter two similar ports. One is the power adapter port, and the other one is a 3.5mm jack for external speakers. To insert the power adapter, locate the biggest port in the recessed area where the ports reside, then slowly push the cable in until it fits securely in the port.
On the top face of the Amazon Echo Dot are four buttons with tactile markings. Each of them are described below.
- Plus: The plus button will increase the speaker's master volume. Pressing and holding this button in will speed up how fast the volume is increased.
- Minus: The minus button will decrease the volume. You can hold this in as well to decrease the volume rapidly.
- circle with slash: This button looks like a circle with a slash down the center, and this mutes the speaker's microphone. Any attempts to talk to your speaker or to someone through a call on your speaker will not work, unless your microphone is unmuted. You can easily distinguish if your microphone is muted or unmuted by hearing a high thunk for unmuted, and a low thunk for muted.
- Dot: This button looks like a button with a dot in the middle. This is the microphone button, which activates Alexa on the speaker. Not only does this activate Alexa, but it also acts as a setup button if you've not set up your Amazon Echo Dot yet.
Setting up Your Amazon Echo Dot
In order to setup your Amazon Echo Dot, you must plug it in first. To do so, locate the biggest port on the unit and insert the small end of the power adapter into the port. Next, insert the square-like plug into a power outlet.
Once the speaker is plugged in, it will start up. Give it a few minutes to fully initialize, and then you will hear ascending chimes.
Your speaker will then ask you to complete the setup in your Amazon Alexa app. In order to complete the setup, you must have the Amazon Alexa app installed on your device. It is a free download off the App Store. Your Echo Dot will not respond to your commands or do anything until you've completed or have exitted from setup mode.
Once the Amazon Alexa app is installed, be sure to log in to your Amazon account to utilize Amazon services such as Amazon Music and Amazon Prime Video. You are able to make a free Amazon account for this.
Your Echo Dot will be in setup mode when you first recieve it. If, however, for any reason, you need to reset things, you can go into setup mode anytime by pressing and holding down the button with the dot in the middle for 5 seconds.
Once you are in your Alexa app, a dialog will appear asking if you'd like to setup the device it detected nearby. Choose Continue from the bottom of the screen to continue setup.
The first thing the Echo Dot will need access to is WiFi. In order to listen to music, retrieve news, weather information, and other data, the Echo Dot must be connected to WiFi.
When prompted, the app will show a list of available networks to connect to. Choose your WiFi network from the list of networks, then enter a password if one is required. The next time you set up another Echo-enabled device, the Alexa app will automatically remember that this is your network, and you won't have to re-enter your credentials.
Once you have chosen your network, hit Connect. Several seconds later, you will hear tones from your Echo Dot, indicating that WiFi is on and paired.
The next thing you must add is a group. Groups allow you to control several Alexa-enabled devices that are based in one central area. For example, if you had 5 Alexa-enabled dices in the living room and 3 in your bedroom, you could make two groups to control your living room and bedroom devices separately.
For now, you must choose a group, but you can delete it later if you only have one device. You can choose from several places, such as your bedroom, kitchen, basement, hallway, etc.
Once you are done, hit the Continue button.
The next thing you will be asked for is your home address. To recieve local weather and news, your Echo Dot must know your address. You can enter it in the text field displayed. As you type, a list will appear below the text field.
Once you are finished, hit the Continue button.
After this, your Alexa app will ask you to add a voice profile. You do not need to do this now, but you may do it anytime by saying to your speaker, "Alexa, learn my voice." I will not go into lots of detail about doing this, as I think this is something more personal that you can do in your own time.
After pressing Skip, you will be asked if you'd like to watch a Getting Started video. Unfortunately this video is silent for some unknown reason, so I would skip this as well.
Once you have pressed Skip, a done dialog will appear, indicating that you've completed full setup of your Echo Dot. Hit Go to Home button to exit the setup wizard. At this point, your Echo Dot will exit from setup mode and will be responsive whenever you say "Alexa."
Echo Dot Settings
Before you start using your speaker, there are some helpful settings I'd like to point out.
One of the settings I'd like to mention is start and ending request sounds. When you say Alexa, nothing will happen, because usually, a sighted person or a person with low vision can see the ring on the speaker. The red ring means muted, the green ring means listening.
If you are totally blind like I am, these sounds will come in handy, because one sound will play when you say Alexa. Then, once you finish your command, another sound will play to notify you that it's heard you.
To enable this setting, follow these steps.
- From the Alexa app, select the Devices tab in the bottom right corner, or do a four finger tap at the bottom of the screen to quickly jump to it.
- In the Devices tab, select All Devices.
- Choose your device. This will usually be labeled "Amazon account's first name"'s Echo Dot, where "Amazon account first name" means your first name. Select that device to open Settings.
- Flick right until you hear Sounds, and select it.
- Find the Start of request toggle, and make sure the switch button is on. After that, do likewise with the end of request sound. Do note it can be a little confusing because it'll say, Turn off, switch button on, and Turn on, switch button off. If it says Turn on, it means its off, and vice versa.
There are other settings in here for controlling your Echo Dot with an Echo Remote (extra product), changing equalizer settings, WiFi and Bluetooth settings, etc. Just to help you out, I'll cover bluetooth settings a little more in depth.
The Bluetooth settings are for linking other devices with your Echo Dot, such as your iPhone or bluetooth speakers. To do this, follow the below steps.
- Open Devices tab.
- Select All Devices>Your Device.
- In device settings, select Bluetooth.
- From the Bluetooth settings screen, select Add a New Device.
- Now you will get a list of devices to connect. Choose a device and it'll connect to that device.
To pair your iPhone or iPad with your Echo Dot, go to iOS Settings>Bluetooth, and search for your Echo Dot. NOTE that you must enable Bluetooth on the Echo Dot first by saying, "Alexa, Enable Bluetooth."
As you use your Echo Dot more, you'll find yourself wanting to listen to music on Spotify, Pandora, or other services. You may also want to enable games, such as Song Quiz. These come in the form of skills, which are little mini apps that you need to enable from your iPhone first before Alexa can use them.
To do this, open the navigation menu at the top of the Home Tab, and select Skills. You'll get a little search box to search for skills.
Skills I recommend enabling are music skills, such as Spotify, Apple Music, and more. You can also enable some podcast skills, entertainment skills, and meditation skills. There are tons of skills out there, you just need to find one that you like.
Some skills may require account linking, such as Spotify or Pandora. To do this, enable the skill, then log in when prompted.
To enable a skill:
- From the search box (Open navigation menu>Skills) type in the name of the skill. We'll use Spotify as an example.
- Select the skill name from the list that appears.
- Flick right until you hear enable this skill. Depending on the amount of data the skill contains, it may take awhile to finish.
Once a skill is enabled, you may need to tell Alexa to use the skill. For example, saying "Play AppleVis podcast" is different from saying, 'play AppleVis podcast on Spotify."
This little hockey puck may not look like a phone, but it certainly has some phoning capabilities. If you have friends that use Alexa-enabled devices, you can call their Alexa-enabled devices and talk to them without having to reach for your iPhone.
To do this, you must make sure you allow the Amazon Alexa app to access your address book. To do so, open the Communications tab and select Audio Call.
Once you reach the Audio Call screen, he app should ask for access. If not, open iOS Settings>Amazon Alexa>Contacts, and make sure it is on.
To call from your speaker, simply say, "Alexa, call contact_name." If they do not have any Alexa-enabled devices, it will use your iPhone phone number to dial their number, assuming you have an iPhone with cellular data.
Conclusion: The Journey Isn't Over Quite Yet
There are still hundreds of things you can do with Alexa, so be sure to search online and find out new skills and features, because things are being improved weekly.
I hope this guide helped you out in setting up your Alexa-enabled device. Please post any questions or suggestions down below, or e-mail me via my AppleVis Contact form.
I'd like to take this time to recognize the people that helped me in my time of setting up my Alexa-enabled device. You may also get some tips from them that could be better than mine. - Hannah: Helped me set up my Echo Dot on Dabel. - John Chandler (also on Dabel as Johnny Wonderwyk): Gave me some helpful tips.
And thank you, for reading!