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How to set up Alexa’s new map view and why you need one of these iOS devices

Map view in the Amazon Alexa app

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The Amazon Alexa app just got a much-needed upgrade in favor of a better user experience. Amazon has announced that the Alexa Map View feature is now in preview 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 probably noticed that it can be an annoying experience. Scrolling through a list of dozens of randomly named devices to find the one I need doesn’t make for an easy-to-use UI. Map display can change that.

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“Even I have trouble 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 first Map View announcements in September. “We knew we had to make it easier.”

Map View is a visual layout of your home, with easy access to smart devices connected to Alexa. Using the Alexa app, consumers can create a map of the rooms in their home and then drag and drop any smart device to the appropriate location, making it easier to find the device they need in less time.

Map view is only available on certain devices. In a preview interview with ZDNET, French explained that LiDAR-enabled iOS devices are required for the room scanning process that creates the map. Alone at the moment iPhones 12 Pro And ProMax, 13 Pro And ProMax, 14 Pro And ProMax, 15 Pro And ProMaxAnd iPad Pro (4th generation or newer) can 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 that I have at least two smart plugs that are plugged into something and working, but I have no idea what they are called, so they are essentially “lost.” My husband has woken me from a deep sleep at least three times by accidentally turning on my bedside lamp at 100% while he was trying to turn on a light bulb in the living room.

Use Map View on Amazon Alexa

An accelerated view of how the Alexa app scans rooms.

Maria Diaz/ZDNET

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

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

Open the Amazon Alexa app

Map view works with the Amazon Alexa app, not the Amazon Shopping app.

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

Select Devices

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Tap the pin drop icon in the top right corner of the Devices screen. Here you can access the map view after you have set it up.

Tap Map View

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

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Tap ‘Next’ at the bottom of the screen.

Go through the intro to Map View

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

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Select which floor you scan first. I chose the first floor since I started with the home office downstairs.

Select which floor you scan first

Tap “Next” and then choose the floor you scan first, or create a custom floor.

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The app guides you through creating your floor plans with your phone. Make sure your rooms are well lit so you can capture every floor-to-ceiling wall 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 map.

Find out how to create your card

After reading the scanning instructions, you can tap “Start Scan” at the bottom of your screen.

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

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When you’re done, tap ‘Finish Room’ in the top right.

Start scanning

Scan your room and tap “Finish Room” when you’re done.

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Select or enter a name for your scanned room. I selected ‘Office’ because that is the room I scanned.

Give the room a name

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Check that the floor plan of your room looks accurate. Then you can add a “New Room” or tap “All Done” to wrap up for now.

Finalize your room layout

I selected ‘All done’ to complete the mapping and add devices to my room.

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Find the devices in the room in the carousel at the bottom of your screen and start adding them. Drag them all and place them in the room where they are located.

Drag your devices

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You can tap Done when you’re done and start controlling the devices in your room from your card.

Mapped office

Maria Diaz/ZDNET

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