When you have a device like Amazon Echo it’s hard not to want to play your favorite music, after all, the device is basically a big Bluetooth speaker with home automation technology. It can listen for your commands, make orders for you and, generally speaking, fulfil that “automate” part in “automation technology.” But what if you wanted to listen to, say, YouTube on your Amazon Echo? Could you do it? Yes, but also no. Let’s break down why that question deserves such a conflicting answer.
For starters, Amazon and Google are competitors; keep that in mind. It isn’t unheard for technology being sold by one company, to be incapable with the technology of another company. Take Android and iOS devices, for example, which is the perfect example of two devices not playing well with each other.
But why does that matter? Plenty of technology is compatible with one another, and that’s true. But Amazon being Amazon, doesn’t allow YouTube to function the same way other apps would like, say, Amazon Prime Music, Amazon Music Unlimited, Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, TuneIn, all examples of applications that function through the Amazon Echo with full use of the Amazon Echo’s voice commands; YouTube, on the other hand, does not have that luxury.
You see, YouTube is a reservoir of music, but not just any music, free music, and it can be any music you’re looking for. You have playlists, single tricks, entire albums, new artists, old artist, up-and-coming artists, your super hot mixtape is on YouTube. For free. Now why in the world would Amazon give you the option to sweep its subscriptions under the rug with YouTube?
The Power of Bluetooth
Here’s the rub: your Amazon Echo has Bluetooth capabilities. You could take your mobile device, connect it to your Amazon Echo through Bluetooth, and use your Amazon Echo as a big Bluetooth speaker. And that is how you get your Amazon Echo to play music from YouTube.
Now, it isn’t all sunshine and rainbows; there are some drawbacks. For starters, no, YouTube is not natively supported by the Amazon Echo, which was explained above. That matters because the Amazon Echo’s voice commands will NOT work with YouTube. So if you said, “Alex, ask YouTube to play playlist All My Metal Favorites,” your Amazon Echo would sit in silence or simply not understand you.
This introduces an inconvenience, not necessarily a problem. Anytime you want to change your music, you will have to physically do it yourself with your mobile device. Considering mobile devices aren’t the greatest in sound quality and the Amazon Echo is certainly a level above, it’s still worth doing just for the sake of a better speaker.
Before You Start…
In order to make use of the Bluetooth connection, make sure your Amazon Echo and your mobile device are connected to a safe and secure network connection. If you have an Amazon Echo Dot, this method will still work. And, of course, enable Bluetooth on your mobile device. You can find those steps that apply to both Android and iOS devices.
Enabling Bluetooth on Mobile Devices
1. Locate and launch the Settings app.
2. In the Settings menu, locate and select Bluetooth.
3. In the Bluetooth menu, move the slider to the right to turn it ON. With Bluetooth enabled now, your Amazon Echo device will be able to pick on its signal and pair with your Android.
4. Alternatively, you can enable Bluetooth by opening your notification shade. Tap the notification bar (that displays your time and battery charge) or tap and drag down to reveal your notification shade.
5. Take your finger and pull down on the notification shade again to reveal your Quick Settings menu. Bluetooth is among them. Activate it by selection Bluetooth.
Playing YouTube on Amazon Echo
1. Locate and launch the Settings app on your mobile device.
2. In the Settings menu, head back to Bluetooth and select it.
3. Now, tell Alexa, “Alexa, pair Bluetooth.” After a moment, she’ll respond with steps to connecting your mobile device to the Amazon Echo, which you already have.
4. On your mobile device, you’ll see a viable connection with Bluetooth. Alexa will tell you what your Amazon Echo is labeled as. Select it, usually referred to as, “Echo-###.” When the connection has been established, you are free to fire up YouTube and play your music.
If you plan on changing your playlist, loading up a new song or giving a command to YouTube, sadly, you’re out of luck. You’ll have to use your mobile device as a remote.
There’s no telling when or if Amazon Echo will ever have functionality with YouTube. You have to consider it from a business standpoint. If you were looking to make money off of Amazon Prime Music or Amazon Music Unlimited, making the decision to allow YouTube to function with Amazon Echo would be a death sentence for Amazon’s music platforms. Why buy the music when you could link to your Amazon Echo with Bluetooth and play the music for free?
But what if you could? There does exist one method, but it’s hit or miss and you should really only use this method if you’re comfortable with code.
Teaching Alexa a New Trick
Before you continue, this process has a lot of moving parts and involves editing code. Quite frankly, it’s a lot of work for getting YouTube to work through your Amazon Echo and might not be worth it.
1. Log into the Alexa Console.
2. Once you’ve logged in, go ahead and register as an Amazon Developer. However, it’s very important that you answer with “No” when Amazon asks the question, “Do you plan to monetize apps by charging for apps or selling in-app items?” as well as “Do you plan to monetize apps by displaying ads from the Amazon Mobile Ad Network or Mobile Associates?”
3. After that, click Create Skill and name it, preferably simple like “YouTube.” Afterwards, choose your language, the one that matches your Amazon Echo.
4. For Model, click Custom, then Create Skill.
5. Click Start from Scratch and then “Choose.”
6. On the left hand side you’ll see a menu. Find and choose JSON Editor. When a text box appears, just delete the contents.
7. Now, you need to find the code for Alexa’s new trick, but because the code is always getting changes, it can be a pit of a pain to get ahold of. This block of code should still work. Copy everything you see there and paste it to the empty text box. Afterwards, click Save Model.
8. On the left hand side, click Interfaces. You’ll want to find Audio Player and Video App and enable them both, then click Save Interfaces.
9. Just below Interfaces, click Endpoint and choose AWS Lambda ARN. Now, you need to change your default region to that of where you live:
- EU: arn:aws:lambda:er-west-1:175548706300:function:YouTube
- Asia: arn:aws:lambda:ap-northeast-1:175548706300:function:YouTube
- US (West): arn:aws:lambda:us-west-2:175548706300:function:YouTube
- US (East): arn:aws:lambda:ap-northeast-1:175548706300:function:YouTube
10. Next, click on Save Endpoints and then choose Permissions. You’ll see it nestled in the bottom left corner. Find Lists Read and Lists Write and enable them both.
11. Click Custom in the upper left corner and then Invocation. Afterwards, hit Save Model and then Build Model.
12. Finally, choose Test at the top. Change it to Development.