December 2, 2023

Maria Diaz/ZDNET

The Amazon Alexa app just got a much-needed upgrade in favor of a better user experience. Amazon announced that the Alexa Map View feature is now available on a preview basis on some devices to make it easier to control smart home devices. 

If you’ve ever used the Alexa mobile app to control your smart home, you’ve likely noticed it can be a tedious experience. Scrolling through a list of dozens of randomly named devices to find the one I need doesn’t make for a friendly user interface. Map View may change that. 

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“Even I struggle with this. Scrolling through a long list to find that device with a name I can’t remember,” Charlie French, Amazon’s director of smart home, explained during the company’s initial Map View announcements in September. “We knew we had to make it easier.”

Map View is a visual layout of your home, where the smart devices connected to Alexa are easily accessible. Using the Alexa app, consumers can create a map of the rooms in their homes and then drag and drop each smart device to its respective location, making it easier to find the device they need in less time. 

Map View will only be available on some devices. In a preview interview with ZDNET, French explained that LiDAR-enabled iOS devices are necessary for the room scanning process that creates the map. At this time, only iPhones 12 Pro and Pro Max, 13 Pro and Pro Max, 14 Pro and Pro Max, 15 Pro and Pro Max, and iPad Pro (4th gen or newer) will be able to use Map View in the Alexa app. 

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I’ve been looking forward to Amazon improving the Alexa app for a long time. I told French I have at least two smart plugs that are connected somewhere and working but I have no idea what their names are, making them effectively “lost.” My husband has woken me up from a dead sleep at least three times by mistakenly turning on my bedside lamp to 100% when he was trying to turn on a light bulb in the living room.

How to use Map View on Amazon Alexa 

A sped-up view of how the Alexa app scans rooms. 

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What you’ll need: The Amazon Alexa app with any compatible smart devices added and a compatible Apple device. 

Open the Amazon Alexa app on your iPhone 12 Pro or Pro Max or newer or iPad Pro 4th generation or later.

Open the Amazon Alexa app

Map View works on the Amazon Alexa app, not the Amazon Shopping app. 

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Tap on Devices at the bottom of your screen on the Alexa app. 

Select Devices

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Tap on the pin-drop icon on the top right corner of the Devices screen. This is where you’ll access Map View after setting it up. 

Tap on Map View

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The first time you enter Map View, you’ll be introduced to the feature with some slides. These introductory pages explain what Map View is, that it is a new Alexa feature only available in the US, how you’ll use your phone to create 3D models of each room, and some privacy information.

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Tap on “Next” at the bottom of the screen through each one. 

Pass through the intro to Map View

Tap on Start Now to get started and read through the next few pages.

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Select which floor you’re scanning first. I chose the first floor since I started with the home office downstairs. 

Select which floor you're scanning first

Tap on “Next” and then choose the floor you’re scanning first, or create a custom floor. 

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The app will walk you through how you will create your floorplans with your phone. Make sure that your rooms are well-lit, to capture every wall from floor to ceiling and all pieces of furniture, and only scan one room or area at a time. 

You can always edit these maps later and even separate areas in an open floorplan. 

Learn how you'll create your map

Once you read through the scanning instructions, you can tap on “Start Scanning” at the bottom of your screen.

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Start scanning your room with your phone. Move your device to capture the area with your camera, and move around and turn to ensure it scans the entire room. 

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When done, tap on “Finish Room” at the top right.  

Start scanning

Scan your room and tap on “Finish Room” when done. 

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Select or enter a name for your scanned room. I selected “Office” since that’s the room I scanned. 

Name the room

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Confirm your room’s floorplan looks accurate. Next, you can add a “New Room” or tap on “All Done” to finish for now. 

Finish your room layout

I selected “All Done” to finish mapping and start adding devices to my room. 

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Find the room’s devices from the carousel at the bottom of your screen and start adding them. Drag and drop each one and place it in the room where they’re located. 

Drag and drop your devices

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You can tap on Done when finished and start controlling your room’s devices from your map. 

Mapped office

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