Finally, no more scrolling through an endless list of devices named “First Motion Sensor” or “Fourth Light” in Amazon’s Alexa app. Smart home controller gets the option of a new user interface – Map view.
Launching as a public preview on November 14, the new map interface lets you create a digital version of your home’s floor plan and pin your Alexa-connected devices in each room. “Now you have a single place where you can quickly check the status of everything, see which Echo is playing music, see the temperature, see if the lights are on or off, and it’s all controllable from the map,” Charlie French, director of Amazon. of the smart home, explained in an interview before the launch.
First announced at Amazon’s Fall Hardware Event in September, Map View is opt-in, and if you signed up to be notified, you should receive an email to try it this week, French says. The preview is currently closed, so if you missed it, you’ll have to wait for Amazon to open it again.
The interface launches first in the Alexa mobile app and will come to the new Echo Hub Smart Home Controller in early 2024. This device is expected to be released later this year.
Once the map is created, you should be able to drag and drop your devices into each room and control them from there in the app. According to French, you only need to create the map once, but you can add and remove devices at any time.
French says Map View will work with most devices you can connect to Alexa, including lights, smart plugs, thermostats, compatible cameras, and Echo devices. You can adjust the brightness of a light, turn it on or off, adjust a thermostat, increase the volume on an Echo device, and see a live view from a camera on the map. You can also control multiple devices at once with an “all on, all off” control for each room.
To set up Map View, you need a compatible iOS device equipped with lidar (iPhone Pro and Max models, iPhone 12 and newer, or fourth-generation iPad Pro or newer). Once set up, the map is accessible on any iOS device and you can add and remove devices at will. French says the company estimates it would take about a minute per room and a minute for 10 devices to configure the initial board.
I started playing with it this morning after just gaining access and successfully scanning two rooms, but it took me about 30 minutes to get them set up correctly. I have an open space on the first floor, and this was causing some problems. But the scanning part itself was easy; I just held up my iPhone and walked around, and the iPhone mapped out every room. My problem was getting each piece to line up with the others to create the map, since I don’t have many distinct doors to snap onto.
You don’t have to scan every room in your house, and you can choose which devices are included, French says. The Alexa app doesn’t pull up all your smart home gadgets based on the rooms you create, which could be easier.
The idea of scanning your entire home and uploading it to Amazon’s servers will rightly scare a few people. But if you’re already fully on board with Alexa and have dozens of devices, this control interface seems like a big improvement over the current method of scrolling through a long list in the app.
French says your home map is encrypted and stored securely in Amazon’s cloud. Live images of the house captured on iPhone to create the map are processed locally on your device and are not stored.
I’ll play around with the new feature and have some first impressions later this week.