UPDATED: Amazon has announced 4 new Echo devices this week! Read our rundown of the new features here
A growing number of people have been using Amazon Echo, with the smart home device’s reputation almost exploding lately. To take advantage of this momentum, Amazon just announced two spinoff portable versions called Dot and Tap. They’re cheaper than the full-blown Echo, opening up new segments of the market for the online retailer. Some of you may, now, be wondering – Does Echo Dot work without Alexa? Read on to find out.
NOTE: Click here for Amazon’s own guides to using Echo, and their list of “Things to try.”
September Update: The next generation of Echos is rolling out, including a couple new Echos like the “makes perfect sense” smaller standard Echo, the odd but probably really useful Echo Spot, and the interesting Echo Buttons, which seem more like a software developer’s play thing right now.
The Dot features the same kind of wonderful speaker setup as the Echo, but users need to press a button on the top before issuing voice commands. It also features a rechargeable battery and a base for docking the device when it’s not in use. The Tap is also mobile, but it’s smaller. The tradeoff is the high quality speaker is replaced by one that’s not nearly as good. You can get on Amazon.com and buy the device right now, which isn’t the case with the Dot.
There is one big hurdle to overcome if you want to order the Amazon Echo Dot. Consumers can only order the device by using voice commands on an Amazon Echo or through the Amazon Fire TV technology. Essentially, Alexa, the Amazon AI that responds to voice commands on either device, is the only one who can help you get your hands on a new Echo Dot. That’s a problem for anyone who doesn’t own either Amazon device.
While it’s understandable that Amazon wants to reward its loyal customers, while further conditioning them to ordering products using only voice commands, it’s also a pretty silly move. A number of people have been interested in Echo for some time, but for whatever reason they’ve decided the price is too high. That’s supposed to be the point of the Dot, besides being a smart home device you can pack in your bag and take pretty much anywhere. By cutting out these more budget-conscious customers, Amazon is losing out on revenue, and how much is anyone’s guess.
Fortunately, there is a workaround.
Another update: These new devices will likely come with updates to make these kinds of workarounds tougher. But, stay tuned for tips and how-to’s we’ll be releasing when we get our hands on the new devices.
All you need is access to the Amazon Android storefront app, which plenty of people have. If you don’t, find a friend with an Android device and ask for a favor. For this to work, you or your friend also needs to be an Amazon Prime subscriber, but that’s a pretty common thing these days.
Once you get into the app on your Android smartphone or tablet, all you need to do is log into your Prime account and tap on the microphone icon that appears in the upper left corner of the screen. This turns on the voice command function for the app. From there, just say “add Echo Dot to shopping cart.” You need to annunciate the words clearly, otherwise you might end up with something completely different. A list will appear on the screen. Find the Echo Dot and tap on the “Add to Cart” button, the tap on “Proceed to Checkout.” From there you just need to put in where you want it shipped and how you’re going to pay.
You should be aware that as of the writing of this piece, Amazon’s Echo Dot is still in the preorder phase. The device officially releases to the public on March 31, the same day as the Tap. You also need to be a Prime customer to order the Tap, if you’re looking to get both devices.