In the wake of the HomePod delay, I’ve found myself tinkering more and more with Amazon Alexa-enabled smart speakers like the Sonos One and Echo Dot. The main appeal of HomePod for me is HomeKit control, managing Apple Reminders and Cultured Code Things tasks and entries, and controlling Apple Music and Apple Podcasts playback.
I’ve found that most HomeKit accessories also work with Amazon Alexa, so voice-enabled smart home control is relatively easy to do with Alexa. Adding new entries to lists in Reminders is something else I frequently do with Siri, and luckily it’s possible to make this work with Alexa too.
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Alexa has its own to-do list and shopping list by default, but they don’t connect directly to lists in Apple Reminders. Amazon actually officially supports iCloud Calendars which you can set up in the Alexa iOS app, but you need a service in the middle to connect Alexa and Reminders.
I use Siri all the time to remind myself about upcoming tasks at specific times and add groceries to a shared shopping list with my wife. Using IFTTT (If This Then That) which is free, it’s totally possible to use Alexa to add new items to specific lists in Reminders exactly like I do with Siri.
“Alexa, add take out the trash to my to-do list.”
You can make this show up in Apple Reminders with an applet created by IFTTT called ‘Sync your Amazon Alexa to-dos with your reminders.’
This uses your default Alexa “To-do” list to add tasks to whichever Reminders list you choose when setting it up. By default, it will create a new list called IFTTT, but you can choose an existing Reminders list instead.
“Alexa, add milk to my shopping list.”
I couldn’t find an applet already created that connects the default Alexa list called “Shopping” to a Reminders list, but IFTTT makes it super easy to create your own applets. The one I made is called “If item added to your Shopping List, then add reminder to list Shopping List”, and it works great for what I want.
The applet takes any new item on the Alexa Shopping List and adds it to the Shopping List in Reminders, which then syncs with iCloud to appear on all your devices. Since my wife and I both share this Reminders list using iCloud, we can each add items with Alexa and see them on the Shopping List.
(You can’t share applets that you create, but you can recreate it my reproducing the configuration in the image above.)
Both of these workarounds have minor shortcomings however. First, both rely on IFTTT to work so there’s no guarantee they’ll work forever.
Functionally, IFTTT only supports recipes that start with Amazon Alexa that do something on Apple Reminders too; there’s no way to make Apple Reminders trigger your Alexa lists for example.
This means your Alexa lists will not show items as completed when you mark them off in Reminders, but the workaround works great if you just want to use Alexa devices to add items to specific lists in Reminders where you actually manage them.
I haven’t set it up yet, but this might also work with Cultured Code Things which can import tasks from a specific Reminders list. Just connect Alexa to a specific Reminders list using IFTTT, then you have Alexa voice input for the task management app. Apple Music and Apple Podcasts control, however, will have to wait for HomePod.
Have your own approach to connecting Amazon Alexa to Apple services? Let us know!