How to Change Device Types in the Alexa App

posted in: Alexa, Amazon, Echo | 0

Update: I was contacted by a representative from Insteon who told me that they are aware of the issue and will be updating their software to fix the problem.  I will update this post when it is fixed.

When Amazon released Alexa Room Awareness, it was a major step forward in simplifying voice commands.  By adding your Echo devices to groups containing other smart devices like lights that are in the same room, you no longer had to remember what you had named the room.  Simply saying “Alexa, turn on the lights” would work, because the Echo would know you meant the light devices in the same group.

There has been one flaw.  Alexa only recognized smart bulbs as being lights.  If you had any smart plugs or switches that you wanted to use, Room Awareness would not see them as being lights.  On some level, this made sense.  A light bulb is always a light bulb, but a switch or plug could be controlling anything.  Calling plugs and switches “lights” by default could have disastrous (or hilarious) consequences.  Imagine asking for the lights and instead getting coffee.

In a recent update, Amazon has exposed the device type of each device discovered by the Alexa app.  In most cases, you will see your devices labeled as “switch,” “light,” or “plug.”  In some cases, you will see the device type as being “other.”  As of the time of this post, I can confirm that this is working for TP-Link and WeMo devices, and I’m sure many more are now able to have their types changed.  This is currently NOT working for Insteon devices.

Here is how to change the device type in the Alexa app:

1- Open the Alexa app, tap the menu button on the top left and then tap Smart Home

2- This should default to the Devices tab, if not, tap Devices

3- Select the device for which you would like to change the type

4- Tap Edit on the top right

5- If your device is supported, you should see an arrow on the right side of the Type field

6- Tap Type

7- Change the device type to Light

8- Tap back twice to return to the device list.  You should now see your device with a light bulb icon

Once you have completed the configuration for each device, you can test by asking your Alexa device in each room to turn the lights on or off without specifying a room name.