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Can You Use Alexa Without WiFi?


Alexa, the AI-powered virtual assistant from Amazon, can perform a range of helpful tasks, including playing music, setting alarms, providing news and weather updates, and even turning on or off your home’s lights thanks to its home automation functionality.

A common question people often have, though, is whether or not you can use an Alexa device without WiFi, and that’s what we’ll be answering in this article.

You can’t use all of Alexa’s features without WiFi or mobile data. Features like using an Alexa device as a Bluetooth speaker or setting reminders will work without the internet. Others, such as online shopping, music streaming, and news and weather updates, will require an internet connection..

Read on to find out which features work on an Alexa device without an active internet connection and whether you can use your phone’s hotspot or a Bluetooth connection as a substitute for when you don’t have access to WiFi (answer: you can).

Can You Use Alexa Without WiFi?

While a few of Alexa’s basic functions will work without a WiFi connection, you will need to connect your Echo or Alexa compatible device to a stable WiFi connection to make the most of everything Alexa has to offer.

Most Alexa devices can’t process voice commands directly; instead, they use ‘Natural Language Processing (NLP)’, a branch of artificial intelligence that helps computers interpret the human language.

In turn, for Alexa devices to access the NLP, they need to connect to Amazon servers via a steady WiFi connection, which is why you will require WiFi to utilise Alexa’s voice command functions.

Without WiFi, Alexa can’t connect to features and applications like Google, music streaming services, news feeds and radio stations.

So, if you have invested in an Alexa compatible device, you will require a WiFi connection or steady hotspot to get the ultimate Alexa experience.


Alexa Functions Which Won’t Work Without WiFi

Here are some of the features that won’t be available on an Alexa device that is not connected to WiFi:

  • Providing answers to your questions that require access to cloud servers;
  • Music streaming;
  • Third-party Alexa skills, for example, ordering a pizza from Dominos;
  • Online shopping;
  • Providing announcements to other devices;
  • Calls and messaging over WiFi;
  • Providing news updates.

Alexa Functions Which Will Work Without WiFi

So, you know what Alexa functions you cannot access without a WiFi connection, but what exactly can Alexa do without the internet?

At a minimum, most Alexa devices allow you to connect via Bluetooth, which will essentially turn them into smart speakers. By doing so, you can connect your phone to the Echo device and play your favourite music from various music services such as Spotify or iTunes by using your mobile data allowance instead of a WiFi connection.

Here’s an expanded list of what you can do with an Alexa device without WiFi (you still might need to be connected to mobile data or Bluetooth, however);

  • Setting alarms;
  • Setting reminders;
  • Using Echo Connect (this allows you to make calls to other Echo devices via a landline phone);
  • Controlling smart home devices;
  • Using your Alexa device as a Bluetooth speaker;
  • Using the device’s volume control via voice command.

Does the Alexa Alarm Work Without WiFi?

Yes, Alexa’s alarm will still go off without WiFi.

You can only set the alarm when Alexa is connected to WiFi, however.

an image showing the amazon alexa device in use

This feature would come in handy if you were to set your alarm before you went to sleep, and during the night, there was a power cut or your WiFi became disconnected, meaning your alarm would still go off at the desired time.

Does Alexa’s Local Voice Control Work Without WiFi?

As mentioned previously, Alexa devices rely on Natural Language Processing to fully interpret the human language, and this needs an active WiFi or mobile data connection to function.

The need for an internet connection does not apply to Local Voice Control, however, which is a feature on specific Echo devices powered by a built-in Zigbee hub that allows them to perform certain functions without an active internet connection.

For example, particular Echo Plus and Echo Show devices can continue to control smart home appliances, set alarms, manage reminders, and give the date and time without being connected to WiFi or a mobile data connection.

One thing to bear in mind is that you’ll need an active internet connection to set up Local Voice Control for the first time.


Why Does Alexa Need WiFi?

Alexa devices rely on WiFi for most of their functions because it requires access to ‘Natural Language Processing (NLP) to enable the device’s artificial intelligence technology to interpret the human language.

With over 7,117 known languages spoken by people worldwide and millions of words to decipher, it comes as no surprise that Alexa can’t store all this information locally. Instead, the NLP is cloud-based and stored on Amazon’s servers, hence why a WiFi connection is required.

When you ask Alexa a question, such as ‘What are the latest news headlines’ or ‘What is the capital of Portugal’, an audio recording is transferred via WiFi to Amazon’s cloud, which processes the request by searching for the answer via the online search engine Bing. Within seconds, Alexa finds the answer she’s looking for and sends it back to your device.

With literally billions of potential questions to answer, there is no way Alexa can store all that information locally, which is why a WiFi connection is required to access all the data the world wide web has to offer.


Can Alexa Work on Mobile Data?

If you don’t have access to WiFi, it is possible to connect Alexa to the network via a mobile hotspot connection.

Most smartphones are now capable of being used as a WiFi hotspot, which means devices that require an internet connection can piggyback on your mobile data network. You can connect an Echo device to your phone’s hotspot by following the simple step-by-step instructions in the Alexa app.

an image showing the amazon alexa app which shows instructions on how to connect your alexa device via a phone hotspot when there is no wifi available

©dennizn/123RF.COM

Providing you have a strong enough data connection (and a sufficient data allowance), you can access the whole Alexa experience as if connected to WiFi.

Some Echo and Echo Dot models can also be run from a USB battery base, with these selling separately from the Alexa device. These handy gadgets make your Echo device fully portable, allowing you to use them in the absence of both electricity and WiFi.


Does Alexa Work With Bluetooth?

You can connect your smartphone to your Alexa device via Bluetooth for situations where you don’t have access to WiFi.

By doing so, you can stream music, podcasts, audiobooks, and radio stations using the data network on your phone.

When connected via Bluetooth, you can continue to use voice activation to control the volume, play, pause and skip forward and backward on all your favourite tunes.

How to Connect a Device to Alexa via Bluetooth

To connect your smartphone, tablet or Bluetooth enabled device to an Echo speaker, follow these simple steps:

  1. Make sure the Echo speaker is close enough to pick up the Bluetooth signal.
  2. Ensure there are no existing Bluetooth connections by saying ‘Alexa, disconnect’.
  3. Open the settings on your tablet, smartphone or Bluetooth enabled device and put it into Bluetooth pairing mode.
  4. Say the command ‘Alexa, pair’ to set your Echo device into pairing mode. She will reply with “Searching…” when in pairing mode.
  5. Your phone, tablet or device should pick up the signal from Alexa. Once it does, select your Echo speaker from the list.
  6. Your phone, tablet or device has been successfully connected to the Echo speaker once Alexa confirms the connection.

In Summary

The short answer is no; you cannot enjoy Alexa’s whole package of features without a WiFi connection.

However, what you can do without WiFi is create reminders, control smart home devices, use it as an alarm (providing it has been set while previously connected to WiFi), and make calls via Echo Connect using the landline connection.

You can also use an Echo speaker as a Bluetooth speaker by connecting it to your smartphone, tablet or Bluetooth compatible device. So for those moments when the WiFi goes down, but you want to keep the tunes pumping, you can still blast your party tunes without losing the sound quality.

If you’re still confused about what exactly Alexa can and can’t do without a WiFi connection, try asking her, ‘Alexa, what can you do offline’ to find out more.


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