Post Publication Date: 11/13/18 – Amazon realizes it’s not possible for everyone to use Alexa devices in the standard way. Sometimes it’s inconvenient to speak commands aloud, and for some people it’s simply impossible to do so. Others may have a thick accent or speech impediment that makes it difficult for Alexa to understand them. Thankfully, in the Echo Show Amazon has provided a solution for Alexa accessibility: Tap to Alexa.
Tap To Alexa Adds Command Tiles To The Show’s Touchscreen
The Tap to Alexa feature makes maximum use of the Show’s touchscreen to make it work more like your phone or tablet. There are two pages of pre-loaded icons, which Amazon calls “tiles”, available by default but you can add, remove or rearrange them to better suit your needs.
Begin by swiping down from the top edge of your Show’s screen to open the Main Menu. Scroll down to select Accessibility. In the Accessibility menu, tap the Tap to Alexa item to turn on Tap to Alexa.
The two pages of default tiles are shown below — sorry that the second image is blurry, it’s really hard to get good photos from that super-reflective Show screen—:
Each tile launches a specific, pre-programmed Alexa function when tapped, and enabling Tap to Alexa also turns on Alexa narration of any text that appears on-screen. For example, if you tap the Movies tile Alexa loads a screen of movies playing near you, reads the list aloud and prompts you to either select one or ask for more.
The Show’s home screen settings stay the same, so if you’ve customized anything you won’t lose those changes, but a Tap to Alexa icon is added to the upper right corner of the screen:
Touching this icon opens the Tap to Alexa function.
Note that enabling Tap to Alexa does not turn off the Show’s microphone, so if your household is a mix of people who want to use the Show in the standard way and one or more who want to use Tap to Alexa, it’s no problem!
Tap to Alexa Limitations and Caveats
Because the options you access via the tiles are pre-programmed, they’re somewhat limited. For example, if you tap the Music tile Alexa will select a playlist for you and start it. If you tap the Joke tile Alexa runs a joke selected at random, you aren’t prompted to select the type or subject of the joke.
However, Tap to Alexa also provides a Keyboard tile and tapping that one opens an on-screen keyboard where you can enter any standard Alexa command (e.g, “Alexa, play music by Queen,” “Alexa, turn on dining room lights,” etc.). It’s less convenient, but it’s there.
Also, in my own tests I’ve found the Tap to Alexa icon on the Show’s home screen isn’t super-responsive. I usually have to tap it more than once to get it to work. Note that tapping or pushing with added pressure won’t make it work any better, that’s not how touchscreens work.
Tap To Alexa Availability
As of this writing (on 11/13/18) Tap To Alexa is available on both the first and second generation Echo Show. Amazon says they are working on adding it to the Spot and Show-mode docked Fire tablets, but have released no specific timelines to the public.
Amazon has also said they may add Routines as a Tap to Show tile option, but again, there is no public timeline for this.
Other Accessibility Tools On Echo Show
While you’re on that Accessibility menu, take a look around. There are many more accessibility tools and features available there, such as a screen magnifier option, VoiceView screen reader to turn on Alexa narration for all screens, closed captioning, color adjustments and more.
Click here to view Amazon’s Using Accessibility Features on Echo Devices with a Screen help topic, which details all available tools and features.
UK readers, click here for the same page on Amazon’s UK site.
Canadian readers, click here for the same page on Amazon’s Canada site.