As a preface to this guide, we would like to mention that the information is quite technical and the more experienced you are with the devices at hand the easier time you will have. If you don’t feel comfortable making the changes below and live in the southern suburbs you may find it easier to have one of us set it up for you. You can find more details at the just before the beginning of this guide.
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 further augment its usability. The only issue with Amazon Echo is that it’s only available in the US. So, if you are, living in South Africa 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 the Amazon Echo usable in South Africa. The process should be pretty much the same for other Alexa devices like Amazon Tap or Echo Dot.
Note: Amazon frequently changes things with regards to their apps and hardware. Try and make sure that whatever guide you use is as recent as possible. We will try an keep this information as up to date as possible, but it is possible that the information here no longer works.
Buying an Amazon Echo Device in South Africa (Alexa)
Obtaining Amazon smart speakers outside of the US can be incredibly difficult, and most up until now have resorted to importing through Amazon to get there hands on this latest tech craze. Luckily for you, we have made it incredibly easy to obtain any smart speaker in South Africa at affordable prices. Visit our online shop here to get your hands on your own Amazon smart speaker or any other of the most popular smart speaker choices available in the US.
Installing the Alexa App in South Africa
If you are on an iOS device, and you’re not jailbroken, you will have to access the Web version of the app. You will have to access it from a laptop or a phone connected to the same wifi as your smart speaker. On your laptop, follow this link and login with your Amazon details. If it does not prompt you to begin the setup for your device go to Settings → Devices → Set up a new device. If you would rather access it from your phone you have to access the same page by following these steps:
- Go to https://alexa.amazon.com on Safari. It should try and tell you to get the Alexa App. Do not do this.
- Hold down the refresh button.
- Select “Request Desktop site”
- Log in with your Amazon details.
- It should prompt you to set up a new device. If it doesn’t go to Settings → Devices → Set up a new device.
While it is possible to use your phone the page is optimised for desktop and doesn’t work as well, but should provide the functionality you need.
Another alternative available to Android users would be to download the files outside the Play Store from a site such as APKmonk, but sites like this have a bad rep for piracy so we don’t feel comfortable linking directly to their site. Don’t worry though, as Amazon Alexa is free and as such, there is no real problem downloading the app from sites like APKPure. If you do want to download it this way simply search for it on the site, check if the website guarantees its safe to use then download it onto your phone. Go to your phone downloads and run it and it should work out fine.
Changing the Timezone to work in South African Standard Time
Since the Echo is officially only supported in the US, naturally, it only accepts timezones and locations that are inside the US or in other areas where Amazon products are supported. If you want to use the speaker smart home device outside the US, you can go to the menu on the top left in the app, go to settings, look for your device with your name, (it should be near the top) and change the device location to your house. If this doesn’t work you can try changing your address to a European one on your Amazon account. Try a country that has central European time +1 like Germany. You can use it without changing the timezone, but with the caveat that you will have to ask “Alexa, what is the time/weather in Cape Town, (Joburg, Durban or whatever location you live in) ?”, and your alarms and reminders will not go off on time, because of the incorrect timezone.
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 centre 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.
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, South Africa and more.
Still having issues?
The Amazon Alexa app has been reported to have a few issues with setting up your Alexa device. Here are some issues we ran into on our Echo Dot with our app on an Android phone:
The device does not show an orange light on start-up.
This means your device is not in start-up mode, so if you want to get it back where you can hold down the dot button for 5 seconds and your Amazon device will enter start-up mode.
The device has trouble connecting to your Wi-Fi with “Unable to complete setup”
When we ran into this issue we solved it by hard resetting the device and reinstalling the app and then turning off the. For the Echo Dot, delete the app on your phone, go to your device and hold down the microphone off and volume down button for 20 seconds or until the light ring turns off and on again. For the Amazon Echo, you will need a safety pin and press the reset button which is on the bottom of the base of your device as well as delete the app.
Connecting Spotify to your Alexa in 2018 in South Africa (Spotify is greyed out)
With Spotify’s formal release in South Africa, many of the guides that helped you get Spotify properly connected to your device are out of date. Before doing these steps make sure you have Spotify premium as the free version is no compatible with Alexa. As of the August 2018 the best fix for Alexa devices (we tested the echo and echo dot) is as follows:
- Create an American/German/UK address on your Amazon website account (Germany has the same time zone as South Africa). You can use Google Maps to find a location.
- Change the device location by going to your account on the Amazon site → Mouse over your account → Your account → Content and Devices → Change location → Select the address you created in the first step
- Go into the Alexa App and set make sure your location is the same as the one you have set in step one.
- Wait a bit. (+-3 minutes for us)
- Go to Music, Video and Books tab in the app and select Spotify
- Login to your premium Spotify account
- Go to the Music and Media section in the Settings tab and select Spotify.
- “Alexa play victory music!”
A lot of miscellaneous errors can be fixed by simply hard resetting your device and resetting the app. For the Echo Dot, delete the app on your phone, go to your device and hold down the microphone off and volume down button for 20 seconds or until the light ring turns off and on again. For the Amazon Echo, you will need a safety pin and press the reset button which is on the bottom of the base of your device, as well as delete the app.