The Amazon Echo smart speaker has been a runaway success in the US, selling >5m units in 2016 alone. In addition to its inbuilt voice assistant capabilities (which are amazing), a large part of its success is owed to its “skills” enabling commands being sent to and from 3rd party services such as Spotify, Pandora, Uber and Domino’s Pizza to name a few. It also integrates with smart home platforms such as Fibaro, Smappee and Vera enabling commands such as “Alexa, turn off the lights”.
Unfortunately for Australian customers, while Amazon has made public their plans to launch in Australia, it’s still not clear when that will happen and whether the Amazon Echo will be available from launch. In the mean-time, early adopters have been importing units from Amazon US through online concierge and mail forwarding services such as shipito.com and bigapplebuddy.com.
We’ve found many of our customers are eager to use these Alexa enabled products together with their smart home system, but are unsure whether they will work in Australia. We cannot guarantee they will, but have put together this 3-step guide based on our own testing and experience and hope you will find it useful.
This is relatively simple, just go to your local Bunnings or Officeworks and pick one up for $10. The Echo’s adaptor takes 120-240V input so works with local voltage. Take note of the shape though (pictured): You need an AU adaptor with a flat front surface due to the bulky shape around the US plug.
If you’re using an Echo Dot, it is USB powered and you can use the one included with your smartphone or similar instead of the one included in the box.
The Alexa app is used to set up and control your new device. It’s available in the following locations:
But there’s a catch: Each country or region has a unique App Store or Google Play Store, and currently the Alexa app is not available in Australia. This is partly because Amazon has not fully developed the local infrastructure to run the service, which we’ll cover in step 3. So how can you get around this?
Essentially you will need to tell your smartphone that you’re actually in the US. We’ve included below the steps to do this on an iOS device, and it is similar for Android devices. If this gets too difficult you can always use your browser to configure the Echo, as you’re not likely to be using the app much anyways now that you have voice control!
Next you need to change the region on your iPhone or iPad:
Finally you need to create the new account in the US App Store:
Using the Alexa app and the included instructions, you’ll now be able to set up your device. At the time of writing, you can select metric units and the local timezone, but not an Australian address. This means you can’t use location based services such as ordering an Uber or pizza, and you will have to specify your location when asking for the weather. “Alexa, what’s the weather forecast for Sydney” will work just fine. “Alexa, what’s the weather forecast” might give you the weather in the US …
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