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An Alternative Echo Show Screen Saver

Echo Show Screensaver Alternative

TL;DR

I and 100s of others got annoyed by the Echo Show screen saver experience.
And so, I attempted to create my own!

After a lot of trial and error, this is the best I could do within the very closed and limited Alexa system.

Using the Silk Browser, try launching the following website on your Echo Show devices for an alternative home screen saver experience.

myecho.show

Read on to find out the limitations as well more information on this mini project.

The Alexa screen experience

Alexa devices with a screen such as the Echo Show models are great.
Now you can get at-a-glance visual feedback during your interactions with Alexa.

However, what about those moments when you aren’t asking for music or setting timers?

Those idle moments when Alexa is just sitting there with nobody to talk to?

The Amazon Alexa team have decided to create a visual slide show screen saver made up of things like weather, recently used Skills, upcoming calendar appointments and photos you’ve uploaded to Amazon Photos.

The problem

The options to customize this visual carousel are extremely limited!

When Amazon recently launched a new feature called “Alexa for your day”, it caused a bit of a storm with 1000s of comments like these…

alexa for your day feedback

Don’t get me wrong. I quite like the Echo Show home screen and I don’t mind “Alexa for your day”, even though it could show up less often.

However, it’s clear not everyone does. Also, I think there should be a lot more options for customizing the experience.

The really annoying part for me, which prompted this post were the Skill suggestions…

Apparently one time in history, me or one of my kids opened a Skill called Cat Trivia.
And now, for the best part of 1-2 months, Alexa has been suggesting, nay, begging me, to open up this Skill again with it’s persistent suggestion.

Why?

Why continue suggesting it, when I clearly do not want to open it?!

Detective work

So I set about attempting to create a more custom and personal home screen saver experience for Echo Shows.

However, I soon found out that this system is very locked down.

I thought about creating a Skill. For example, the Big Sky weather Skill has a screen saver more which is a premium feature. It shows a continuously updated weather feed with other information such as the time, however, when you ask Alexa for timers or music this exists the Big Sky session and you then need to open it again. I wanted a better experience.

So I decided to create a website.

I would start off with a minimal display of just a clock and the date (this is another annoying thing about the Echo Show, it doesn’t show the date!!).

I launched it and it worked! But then 5 minutes later it timed out and went back to the Echo Show homescreen.

But hang on, Youtube doesn’t time out when playing videos? Si I embedded a Youtube video into the site and it worked! But who wants a Youtube video as their screen saver?

I tried many iterations using different website development techniques to avoid the timeouts and finally the only thing that worked was reloading the page at set intervals.

Unfortunately this prevented the use of a full screen web page, but it was the only way!

Introducing myecho.show

myecho.show

Click the link above, you’ll see a minimal page with the time and date. This is the page you need to open on your Echo Show.

Using your Echo Show, say “Alexa, open Silk”.

Alexa should open the Silk Browser.
Now enter the following in the URL field: myecho.show

Once you’re there don’t forget to Bookmark the page for easy access next time.
Use the bookmark icon at the top of the browser.

Echo Show Silk Browser Bookmark

You will now see the myecho.show screensaver.

This website will reload intermittently in order to stay on your home screen and not timeout.

Pros

  • Simple screen saver without Alexa For Your Day and other default screens some find annoying
  • You can still set timers and ask Alexa some other things and the screen saver will not timeout (opening Skills may break the experience)
  • Easy to set-up
  • Permanent date and time display
  • Scope for future improvements and upgrades (feedback in the comments below!)

Cons

  • If you open another Skill then the browser may exit and you will have to re-open the myecho.show website
  • The device screen is permanently on (may cause screen burn? I don’t know)
  • The inconvenience of opening Silk to launch this experience (make sure to bookmark it for quicker access)

The future of the Echo Show screen saver

Hopefully in future Alexa will listen to customer feedback and make a more flexible screen saver experience.

Features recently announced like home page widgets, which will be accessible to developers soon, seem to be a step in the right direction.

For now, if you don’t enjoy the current screen saver experience and want something different, try myecho.show

Please provide your feedback, suggestions and questions in the comments below. Thanks! 🙂

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