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Can Alexa play YouTube? Yes, here's how
The Alexa-powered Echo Show lineup is a popular choice for smart displays, largely because of the marketing clout Amazon brings to the table, but also because of legitimately useful features such as watching security cameras or streaming entertainment services like Netflix. But can Alexa play YouTube for you?
Except for the Echo Show 15, most Alexa displays don't have a native YouTube app. There is a workaround — you can watch YouTube on any Echo Show using Amazon's Silk web browser. If you ask Alexa to play a specific video, it'll show web links you can tap and open.
JUMP TO KEY QUESTIONS
Can Alexa play YouTube on an Echo Show?
Yes, Alexa displays can play YouTube, but not natively unless you’ve got an Echo Show 15 with the recent Fire TV update. While most Show models come preloaded with apps for services like Netflix, Hulu, and Prime Video, YouTube is a conspicuous omission.
There is a workaround, which is Amazon’s Silk web browser. You can say “Alexa, open Silk” then manually enter the URL for YouTube, or else say “Alexa, open YouTube” and jump straight to the website.
Even faster is saying “Alexa, play ___ on YouTube,” which should pop up related search results if Alexa understands you correctly. Tap a link to open a video.
There are limits to this approach. While you can sign in and access your playlists and subscriptions, the web interface is less than ideal for touchscreen controls, especially on a small display like the Echo Show 5. You also can’t use Google Cast with an Echo Show unless you’ve got the Show 15.
Why is there no native YouTube app on most Echo Show models?
Being rivals in the smart home industry, Amazon and Google have refused to play nicely with each other. You can’t, for instance, buy Google Nest Hub displays on Amazon. In fact search results conveniently include Amazon’s own products, sending the message that the company really wants to pretend Google doesn’t exist.
That’s not to say a native Alexa YouTube app couldn’t happen. There’s no obstacle on a technical level, and Amazon hasn’t shut out Google completely, as evidenced by the Fire TV platform. If watching YouTube is important to you though, you’re better off buying smart displays from Google, or compatible third-party brands like Lenovo.