(Pocket-lint) - Amazon announced Alexa Cast in July 2018 making it more intuitive and easier to send your Amazon Music to compatible devices, like your Amazon Echo.
If you've never used casting it can be a little tricky to understand, so we'll explain everything about Alexa Cast so it's all crystal clear.
What is Alexa Cast?
Alexa Cast is a wireless casting protocol that will enable control and playback of Amazon Music on compatible devices, i.e., an Amazon Echo.
Casting sends the control signal from your phone to the speaker you want to play the music on - your Amazon Echo. That Amazon Echo then collects the Amazon Music stream from the cloud and starts playing it.
The phone can then then be used to control - play, pause, skip - the music, as well as letting you browse music in the Amazon Music app and choose new music to play.
Importantly, you're not sending the music from your phone to the speaker. If you turn your phone off, leave the house or take a call, this won't be routed through your Echo like it would with Bluetooth. That's the advantage of casting over Bluetooth - the end device is collecting the stream directly.
Why use Alexa Cast?
Alexa Cast makes it easier to control Amazon Music playback on your Echo devices, meaning you don't have to use voice control, so you can seamlessly move the music from listening on your phone to playing on your Echo.
It's also great for managing music remotely, for example at a party. You don't have to be within voice range to control the speaker, you can do it from your phone. You don't even need to be connected to Wi-Fi.
What music services does Alexa Cast work with?
It's designed to work with Amazon Music, so it's primarily a feature that Amazon Music subscribers will want to use to control music playback around their house and compatible Alexa devices.
What devices support Alexa Cast?
Alexa Cast is built-in to the Amazon Music app on both Android and iOS. It's currently not supported by the web player version of Amazon music.
You need a compatible speaker to cast to, of course, and all the Echo devices are supported. You'll also find that devices compatible with Alexa Voice Services are supported, as well as devices you've enabled and linked to Alexa, like Sonos. You might have to ensure that you've enabled the relevant skill in your Alexa app before they will all work.
We've tested Alexa Cast across a full range of Amazon devices - Echo, Echo Plus, Echo Show, Echo Spot - as well as third-party UE Megablast to confirm that it all works.
Alexa Cast is not available on Fire TV.
How to use Alexa Cast
Using Alexa Cast is actually very simple, just follow these steps:
- Open Amazon Music
- Find the music that you want to listen to and select the first song.
- The Alexa Cast icon will be at the top of the page when you've found the song you want to listen to.
- Tap the Alexa Cast icon and all the places you can cast Amazon Music to will be listed.
- Select the speaker or Echo group you want to play to.
- The music transfers to your speaker, leaving controls on your phone!
That's it, it's really simple. Of course, you have to ensure that your Echo devices are online and that you're playing Amazon Music to Echo devices on the same Amazon account.
What controls does Alexa Cast offer?
Simple, it will do play, pause, track skipping - in fact all the controls of Amazon Music - so you can make those changes to the music playing on your Echo.
You can also control the volume. On Android, you'll be able to use the device volume to change the casting volume, so your Echo will get louder.
What about switching the music back to your phone or other Echos?
This is easy. In the instructions above we detail how to send the music to your speaker - from the same list you'll be able to "disconnect" your Echo and the music will return to playing on your phone.
If you want to move the music from one Echo to another, you have to disconnect from the current speaker and then connect to the new one you want to play through. It's a little clunky.
What else do you need to know?
If you're using Alexa Cast, you can still use the Echo as normal, it will respond to voice commands exactly as normal - including skipping tracks or pausing, or playing other music. Just note that if you ask Alexa to play something else, it will play from the default music service. If that's Amazon Music, then fine, if not, then it will revert to a different service and end the Alexa Cast.
If you're using Alexa Cast, you also can't use Alexa in your Amazon Music app on your phone - which we're not sure is a problem.
You also don't need to be on the same Wi-Fi network to make this work. You can cast to Echo devices on your Amazon account as long as your phone is connected to the internet - so a 4G connection works too.
Isn't this the same as Spotify Connect?
Yes and no. Spotify Connect uses a similar approach to casting, whereby you can send the music from the Spotify app on your phone to any compatible speaker - and that includes all Amazon Echo devices, and a lot of other speakers.
Spotify has the advantage of also them linking to web apps and PC apps - anywhere you're playing music from your Spotify account, with Spotify Connect across all those devices.