There is no doubt that the Amazon Echo is a really great device. It integrates with a lot of great third party applications, is capable of managing your Amazon account (including ordering items from Amazon), can set alarms and timers, read your calendar details, play music, and read the news flash if you ask it to. Plus, it comes with a lot of skills that users can choose to activate to further augment its usability. The only issue with Amazon Echo is that it’s only available in the US. So, if you are not from US but find the Alexa device interesting, we have some good news for you.
In this article we’ll discuss a couple of methods that can be used to make Amazon Echo usable outside of the US. The process should be pretty much the same for other Alexa devices like Amazon Tap or Echo Dot. So if you’re in a country like UK, Australia or in India, you can use the methods we’re going to discuss below to get Amazon Echo working for your location.
Note: If Amazon changes anything, or if you don’t follow this method correctly, you might end up stopping your Echo from working at all. So be cautious, and don’t blame me if you mess something up. Although, as of this writing, this method works perfectly fine, so you should be ok.
Installing the Alexa App
The first hurdle that users will face while trying to get Echo set up outside the US is the fact that the Amazon Alexa app (Android, iOS) is simply not available anywhere other than the US. Fortunately, there are simple workarounds to this problem.
If you are on an iOS device, and you’re not jailbroken, don’t worry. You can follow our article on installing geo-restricted apps on the iPhone, or watch the embedded video.
If you’re on an Android device, the process is even simpler, and you can follow our article on installing geo-restricted apps on an Android device, or just install the APK file.
Changing the Timezone
Since the Echo is officially only supported in the US, naturally, it only accepts timezones and locations that are inside the US. If you want to use the speaker cum smart home device outside the US, you can use it without changing the timezone, but with the caveat that it will tell incorrect time, and your alarms and reminders will not go off on time, because, timezones. So how do we fix that? This is not as simple as installing the Alexa app, and will require you to fiddle a little bit with the API requests. If it sounds daunting, don’t worry, we’ll take you through it one step at a time. So, let’s get started.
Getting the HTTP Request
- First, launch Chrome, and go to alexa.amazon.com. Then, open Chrome Developer Tools (Command + Option + I on Mac), and navigate to the “Network” tab.
- Type “device-preferences” in the Filter for the Network tab. We’re doing this so we only see the HTTP requests that have “device-preferences” in their name, which are the ones we want to look out for.
- In the Alexa website, go to “Settings”, and click on your Echo. It will be named something like XYZ’s Echo. For me, it’s called “Akshay’s Echo”.
- Scroll down, and click on “Edit” next to “Device Location”
- Start typing any US based address here, we used “2201 Westlake Avenue, Suite 200, Seattle, WA 98121”, and then click on “Save”. In the Developer Tools, you will see a couple of entries, select the one on the bottom. Right click on it, and select “Copy as curl“.
Playing around with the Request
Now that we have copied the request as curl, we can go ahead and start changing the fields to values that suit us. Follow the steps below to get your local timezone working on the Amazon Echo:
- First off, paste the copied curl command into an editor such as Sublime Text, or Notepad++. Now, we can start editing it. The first thing you will need to change, is the “timeZoneId”. Search for “timeZoneId” in the text editor where you pasted the curl command, and change that to whatever time zone you are in. For us, it was “Asia/Kolkata”.
Note: You will need to know the Timezone that you are in, you can check out the entire list here.
- Now, send the curl command. If you don’t know how to do that, we have covered it in the next section.
- Once that is done, change the following fields to reflect your local values:
city (“Delhi”, in our example)
countryCode (“IN”, in our example)
county (null for us, if you have a county, you can put that value here.)
district (null, for us)
houseNumber (null, for us)
- Now, send the curl request again.
Note: You can use “null” values for fields that you don’t have any valid information for.
- Once you have done that, change the following fields:
Set the first postalCode (there are two of these, only set the first one. 110020 for us).
state (“DL” for us)
street (null for us)
- Now, send the curl request again.
- Finally, update the second postalCode, and send that curl command.
Once we have done all that, it’s time to check if the changes worked! On to more exciting things, then.
Sending cURL Commands
cURL on Mac
Sending cURL commands is actually rather easy; at least on a Mac. Macs come with cURL pre-installed. So, if you are using a Mac, simply follow the steps below to send cURL commands:
- Copy the cURL request you want to send.
- Open Terminal. Paste the request, and hit Enter.
That’s all you need to do to send a cURL request from a Mac.
cURL on Windows
Sending a cURL command from Windows is actually the same as it is on the Mac, except you will have to download and install the cURL utility before you can use it. Once you have done that, you can simply go to the Command Prompt, paste the curl request, and hit Enter.
Checking if the Changes Worked
Checking if your Amazon Echo accepted the changes is very simple, and can be done by simply asking Alexa.
Try saying “Alexa, what’s the time?“.
If Alexa responds with the correct time, then it has accepted your time zone as default.
Next, try saying “Alexa, what’s my location?”
Alexa will reply with your location in terms of your distance from the center of the city you’re in. It’s not very accurate, but it works.
Now that we have set up the basic functionality of the Amazon Echo to work for our location, we can ask Alexa to set alarms and reminders, and they will work flawlessly. So, let’s extend the Echo’s functionality a bit, shall we?
Using Spotify with Amazon Echo
Spotify is a great music streaming service that provides both free and premium tiers for listening to music. Unfortunately, only the premium membership works with the Echo. So, let’s get started with getting the Amazon Echo to stream music from our Spotify account.
Countries With Spotify Support
If you’re in a country where Spotify services are available, the set up is pretty simple. You just have to sign up for a premium account on Spotify (it’s free for the first 30 days, and $9.99 per month after that). Then, just go to “alexa.amazon.com“, and click on the “Music and Books” tab in the left menu. Choose Spotify from the list, and log in with your Spotify account to start streaming music from your Amazon Echo.
Countries Without Spotify Support
If you’re in a country where Spotify isn’t available, yet. You can use a simple workaround to get your Amazon Echo to stream music from Spotify.
- Install a VPN extension on Chrome (choose from various VPN extensions available), and change your country to “United States”.
- Then, go to Spotify, and click on “Get Spotify Premium”. On the page that follows click on “Start Free Trial”, and fill up your sign up details.
You will then need to provide Spotify with your Credit/Debit card details. This presents another problem, because unless you have a card from a country that is supported by Spotify, they won’t accept it. So, how do we get around this? Turns out, there is an easy fix for this problem.
Entropay: Virtual Debit Cards
So, we’re having troubles with getting a card that Spotify will accept? Enter “Entropay”. Entropay is a website that provide virtual VISA cards to users, that can be loaded with cash from as low as $5, which is perfect for us.
- Simply sign up on Entropay (it’s free!), load some cash into your virtual debit card, and viola! You will have a debit card that works in the US.
Now we can use those details to sign up on Spotify. Spotify offers a 30 day free trial of their premium service, and your card will only be charged after the 30 days of free trial are over. So make sure you have atleast $10 in your Entropay debit card, so that you can continue using Spotify as long as you want.
Getting Spotify Working
Now that you have entered a valid card details into the Spotify website, your account will be activated. On the Alexa app or website, log in with your Spotify credentials, and you’re golden! You can now ask Alexa to play songs from Spotify.
Try “Alexa, play Hymn for the Weekend by Coldplay from Spotify”
Alexa will tell you that it is playing the song Hymn for the Weekend by Coldplay from Spotify, and will begin streaming the song. Cool, right?
You can do this for any song that is available on Spotify. Even better, you can simply ask Alexa to play a playlist for you, and it will happily oblige!
Bonus: Playing iTunes Tracks
If you have a lot of music on iTunes, and you want to play that using the Amazon Echo, there is a very simple way to do this as well.
Simply say “Alexa, pair“, to put the Echo into pairing mode. On your iPhone, go to the Bluetooth settings and pair with the Amazon Echo. Now, you can start listening to your iTunes songs from the Amazon Echo. The Echo responds to commands such as play/pause/stop etc, so you can control the music playback with ease.
Use Amazon Echo Outside US With These Nifty Tricks
While it is not a good sign that Amazon has not yet localized Echo to more countries, the tricks mentioned in this article will definitely help you with getting your Amazon Echo working outside the US, in countries like Australia, UK, India and a lot more. The only drawback with this method is that Alexa still won’t tell the weather for places outside of the United States (unless you mention the name of the city in the command itself); however, all your timers, alarms and music streaming will work flawlessly. There’s a lot more to the Amazon Echo, and if you know of any neat tricks or features of the smart assistant, do let us know about those in the comments section below. Also, if you have just bought an Amazon Echo, check out our list of great accessories you can buy to go along with it.