Alexa has many powerful features, however the one I use most often is one of the simplest and most basic: setting an alarm or a timer. Sure, I have many other ways of achieving this – my phone, watch, PC, alarm clock etc – but simply asking Alexa to set an alarm or reminder is quick, easy and natural. So I do it a lot.
In this article I’m going to disucss Alexa’s alarms and timers along with some of their more advanced capabilities and how to use them.
Alarms vs Timers
What’s the difference between an alarm and a timer? Not much. In many cases you can use them interchangeably. However there are a couple of subtle distinctions.
Alarms are used when you want Alexa to alert you at a known time (and possibly day). They’re ‘absolute time’ notifications. You can also set alarms to repeat (for example a recurring alarm ‘every Friday at 8am’).
Another feature of alarms is that you can specify the sound that goes with them. In particular you can choose to have Alexa play music – either a specific piece, an artist or a genre. For exampe you can set an alarm to wake you up every morning with relaxing classical music – or heavy metal!
Timers are very similar to alarms but are more commonly used for one-off, unplanned alarms. They’re ‘relative time’ notifications: instead of specifying when they’re for directly, you specify how long from now. For instance for can set a timer for 3 minutes or 1 hour from now. Basically, they’re countdown timers.
A nice feature of timers is that more than one going and you can give them names. For example, you could ask Alexa to set a pomodoro timer for 30 minutes and a cooking timer for 45 minutes. When each timer expires, Alexa will notify you which one it is.
So there you go, that’s how to use Alexa alarms and timers effectively. If you want to check the staus of any alarms/timers and change them manually, you can always do so in the Alexa app.