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Echo/Alexa OT

Bane

The Fallen
Oct 27, 2017
1,759
I'm thinking about getting the Echo Music Unlimited plan but am unclear on something. Can you only listen to music on one Echo device at a time, or one device period? Like, you choose which one has access to the plan and that's it? The latter seems a bit dumb but everywhere I've looked is unclear enough that I want to make sure.
 
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Somnid

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,708
Megaton: you can now change the device type of switches to lights in the app. Previously Alexa didn't understand things like contextual "turn on the lights" unless you specifically used smart lights, now you can make it understand that a smart plug attached to a lamp are also lights.
 

Darknight

Member
Oct 25, 2017
6,683
Megaton: you can now change the device type of switches to lights in the app. Previously Alexa didn't understand things like contextual "turn on the lights" unless you specifically used smart lights, now you can make it understand that a smart plug attached to a lamp are also lights.
Have they implemented the concept of locations/rooms yet?
 
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Somnid

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,708
Have they implemented the concept of locations/rooms yet?
Several months ago. You can add Echos into your device groups to get contextual commands. So if I have a group called "kitchen" with lights and an Echo if I say "Alexa, turn on the lights" to that Echo it knows to only turn on the lights in that group.
 

Darknight

Member
Oct 25, 2017
6,683
Several months ago. You can add Echos into your device groups to get contextual commands. So if I have a group called "kitchen" with lights and an Echo if I say "Alexa, turn on the lights" to that Echo it knows to only turn on the lights in that group.
Hmm, I'm not seeing the setting to add a specific Echo into a device group. Any idea where it is?
 
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Somnid

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,708
"Alexa-enabled devices" is the first list section for me under "Edit Group." I guess make sure they are registered to your account and not a family member's. Aside from that I'm not sure what else to look at assuming your app is all up-to-date.
 

Darknight

Member
Oct 25, 2017
6,683
"Alexa-enabled devices" is the first list section for me under "Edit Group." I guess make sure they are registered to your account and not a family member's. Aside from that I'm not sure what else to look at assuming your app is all up-to-date.
Oh interesting. I usually manage stuff through a browser and that functionality is missing from the web interface. Opening the app on my phone had it. I wonder what else is missing from the web interface. I almost never use the app because the web interface is usually fine and easier.
 
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Somnid

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,708
Oh interesting. I usually manage stuff through a browser and that functionality is missing from the web interface. Opening the app on my phone had it. I wonder what else is missing from the web interface. I almost never use the app because the web interface is usually fine and easier.
Yeah the App has a ton more going on as they've started to add deeper integrated features, like messaging and local smart home control. The web version is pretty much legacy at this point.
 

iapetus

Member
Oct 26, 2017
1,460
I'm looking for beta testers for an Alexa skill - it's a free audiobook reader with thousands of classic books available (of varying quality). If anyone's interested, drop me a message. It's a bit up and down at the moment as I get the basic features working, but for now can play a book by name if it recognises it or carry out searches on book titles.

"Ask fiction weasel to play Skylark of Space."
"Ask fiction weasel to read Black Beauty."
"Ask fiction weasel to search for Frankenstein."

And that sort of thing.

Looking for people to try it out, point out the obvious flaws, and demand new features (genre search, author search, keeping track of position in multiple books and so on are already on my to do list...), and give me some idea of when it's ready for an open launch. At which point it may no longer be called fiction weasel. :)
 
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Somnid

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,708
Alexa got a new "follow up" mode that let's you string commands without using the wake word each time. It works by staying active for 5 seconds after a command to listen for follow-ups and if it thinks you aren't directly talking to it it will go back to sleep (or you can say things like "stop" or "thank-you"). You need to opt-in your device to use it: http://www.aftvnews.com/amazon-alexas-new-follow-up-mode-lets-you-string-together-multiple-requests/

Also got Deezer support: https://www.theverge.com/2018/3/6/17086648/deezer-amazon-alexa-support-66-countries-us-uk-germany-echo-sonos-one
and better music querying, particularly about things you did in the past. You can now ask things like "Play that playlist I played last Sunday": https://www.theverge.com/2018/3/8/17094136/amazon-alexa-casual-music-searches-past-playlists-songs

If your Echo randomly laughs at you, that was fixed too.
 
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Somnid

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,708
There is a staged roll out of a feature called "brief mode." Long time Alexa users will notice this is a revival of an early feature where Alexa would respond to requests with a bloop instead of "OK." If you get it, you can turn it on or off. http://www.aftvnews.com/amazon-appears-to-be-testing-a-new-brief-mode-which-reduces-alexas-superfluous-verbal-responses/

Alexa users can also get a free reading of one audiobook from Audible. http://www.aftvnews.com/amazon-echo-devices-will-now-read-any-audible-book-for-free/

You can also now use tablets for messaging and calls. Previously only phones had this ability. http://www.aftvnews.com/amazon-now-allows-calling-and-messaging-through-alexa-on-fire-android-and-ipad-tablets/
 

RetroMG

Community Resettler
Avenger
Oct 25, 2017
1,895
There is a staged roll out of a feature called "brief mode." Long time Alexa users will notice this is a revival of an early feature where Alexa would respond to requests with a bloop instead of "OK." If you get it, you can turn it on or off. http://www.aftvnews.com/amazon-appe...-reduces-alexas-superfluous-verbal-responses/
Sweet freaking yes. I use Echo a lot while the baby is asleep, and there's nothing more frustrating than quietly speaking a command to lower the lights or turn off the TV while holding a sleeping child, and having it blast back, "OKAY!"
 
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Somnid

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,708
Amazon is rolling out better DVR integration and more context specific commands for TV skills: https://developer.amazon.com/blogs/alexa/post/ad707bc1-18f9-488a-af1d-37bde89b6031/new-recording-launcher-and-state-reporting-features-added-to-the-video-skill-api-dish-verizon-tivo-and-directv-skills-will-support-new-capabilities

There's also a new skill by Amazon called Cleo that's designed for native speakers of non-English language to help crowd-source voice data: https://www.amazon.com/Amazon-Cleo/dp/B01N5QDE0Y/ref=sr_1_1
 
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Somnid

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,708
Routines can now integrate with music, change light colors, change volume etc: http://www.aftvnews.com/alexa-routines-now-let-you-play-music-and-adjust-the-volume/

There's a new "announce" feature. Similar to Google Home's "broadcast" it allows you to broadcast a 1-way message across all echoes: http://www.aftvnews.com/alexa-can-now-broadcast-an-announcement-through-all-of-your-echo-devices/. Use it by saying "Alexa, announce {your message}".

Recent Fire tablets can now use Alexa hands-free (used to be just the 10"): http://www.aftvnews.com/current-fire-7-and-fire-hd-8-tablets-gain-hands-free-alexa-with-latest-software-update/
 

breadtruck

Member
Oct 27, 2017
367
Today is a sad day. My Gen 1 Echo just died out-of-the-blue.
Power light on back is on, but no one is home. The only thing that does anything is the mute button, which will light up. Otherwise no response, no LED ring. Nada. :(

Under other circumstances Id be willing to buy the new version, but this one only lasted 1.5 years. All "light use" of an occasion song or weather report. I think Ill have to pass for now.
Unfortunate. This is the first time Ive been disappointed with an Amazon product, and my household is pretty deep in the Amazon ecosystem.
 

kubus

Member
Oct 27, 2017
460
Today is a sad day. My Gen 1 Echo just died out-of-the-blue.
Power light on back is on, but no one is home. The only thing that does anything is the mute button, which will light up. Otherwise no response, no LED ring. Nada. :(

Under other circumstances Id be willing to buy the new version, but this one only lasted 1.5 years. All "light use" of an occasion song or weather report. I think Ill have to pass for now.
Unfortunate. This is the first time Ive been disappointed with an Amazon product, and my household is pretty deep in the Amazon ecosystem.
I’m sorry for your loss :(. Maybe hit up amazon cs? I’ve always had more than great experiences with them and more than once they replaced expensive items outside the usual warranty period for me (for example with a Microsoft Band that broke after 1.5 years).

It doesn’t hurt to try!
 

breadtruck

Member
Oct 27, 2017
367
I’m sorry for your loss :(. Maybe hit up amazon cs? I’ve always had more than great experiences with them and more than once they replaced expensive items outside the usual warranty period for me (for example with a Microsoft Band that broke after 1.5 years).

It doesn’t hurt to try!
I actually did try them after that post. They ultimately gave me a credit to get 25% off the price of a new one (initially only offered 15%.)

Its better than nothing. Not sure Ill use it though.

I still have a Dot in another room. Just doesnt sound as nice...
 
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Somnid

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,708
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Somnid

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,708
 
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Somnid

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,708
Memory functionality is now live, though it seems if you want Alexa to forget something it's rather difficult at the moment: http://www.aftvnews.com/amazons-alexa-cant-be-asked-to-forget-what-you-ask-it-to-remember/

Microsoft demoed the Alexa/Cortana integration at Build: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kgcyblA9RhI
No official release date but they do have an email signup for news: https://info.microsoft.com/Subscribe-to-receive-news-about-Cortana-Alexa

If you have the latest version of the Alexa app on Android you can now set Alexa as the default voice assistant: http://www.aftvnews.com/how-to-set-and-use-alexa-as-the-default-voice-assistant-on-an-android-device/
 

Easystride

Member
Oct 27, 2017
310
Has anyone's Echo been saying "I don't know how to interpret that" but still does what you asked afterwards? IE "turn up the volume, play 'David Bowie,'" etc.
It has been happening to me for like the last week. Echo Dot if that makes a difference.
 
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Somnid

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,708
Has anyone's Echo been saying "I don't know how to interpret that" but still does what you asked afterwards? IE "turn up the volume, play 'David Bowie,'" etc.
It has been happening to me for like the last week. Echo Dot if that makes a difference.
Weird. I haven't hooked up my Echoes since I just moved but the phrase "I don't know how to interpret that" is not one I've heard before for a failed request.

---

Amazon is now rolling out a feature to allow skills to advertise what types of intents they can handle, this will let Alexa route queries to relevant skills without the user needing to invoke the skill. The example they use is the utterance "Alexa, where is the best surfing today near Santa Barbara?" could be routed and fulfilled seamlessly with a surfing skill.
https://developer.amazon.com/blogs/alexa/post/352e9834-0a98-4868-8d94-c2746b794ce9/improve-alexa-skill-discovery-and-name-free-use-of-your-skill-with-canfulfillintentrequest-beta

Amazon is also presenting a paper on their new improved way to annotate data that would give Alexa the ability to better understand natural speech:

Our paper presents detailed explanations and use cases for handling more complex cross-domain linguistic phenomena such as conjunctions, disjunctions, and negations; handling anaphora (the use of generic pronouns like “that” or “here” to refer to previously used words); handling multiple intents; and conditional statements. We hope these design decisions on how to annotate short text in conversational systems will spur further research in the area of semantic meaning representation for action-oriented systems.
https://developer.amazon.com/blogs/alexa/post/29f92b4d-1369-4d22-8494-7c4cc57650a3/amazon-scientists-to-present-more-sophisticated-semantic-representation-language-for-alexa
 
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Somnid

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,708

RetroMG

Community Resettler
Avenger
Oct 25, 2017
1,895
Amazon just put out Show Mode for the Fire Tablets, which turns a Fire tablet into an Echo Show. I'm kind of curious to see how this works, and maybe envision a future where you could just get cheap Fire tablets to constantly use as larger-screen Echo Shows. Maybe mount them on a wall? I think they show art when they're idle, right? (Disclaimer: I've only ever owned the Echo Dot, but I like it enough that I have them all over my house.)

EDIT: My bad, it's actually out tomorrow.
 
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Somnid

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,708
Amazon just put out Show Mode for the Fire Tablets, which turns a Fire tablet into an Echo Show. I'm kind of curious to see how this works, and maybe envision a future where you could just get cheap Fire tablets to constantly use as larger-screen Echo Shows. Maybe mount them on a wall? I think they show art when they're idle, right? (Disclaimer: I've only ever owned the Echo Dot, but I like it enough that I have them all over my house.)

EDIT: My bad, it's actually out tomorrow.
This is generally what they are doing. They even released a dock so it's easy to use like this. The main downside is that you are limited to the tablet's crappy microphone so it will not perform as well but perhaps their next iteration will have first-class Alexa support or they integrate mic and speakers into the dock itself.

Some other recent notable things:

Netflix now has deep integration with Alexa: http://www.aftvnews.com/netflix-now-supports-deep-alexa-voice-controls-on-fire-tv-devices/

You can also share blueprint skills now, so in addition to making you can also distribute custom skills without needing to write code.
 
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Somnid

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,708
Lots on new stuff this week:

Echo Show get a new feature "tap to Alexa." It's positioned as an accessibility feature for people who might have trouble speaking to use an Echo Show. It positions shortcuts to common Alexa tasks on the screen or you can manually type in queries, you can also setup custom shortcuts. https://www.cnet.com/news/amazon-tap-to-alexa-accessibility-feature/

All Alexa devices are getting ESP (the feature that figures out which device you are talking to) with the new cloud ESP. They also claim it has performance enhancements. https://developer.amazon.com/blogs/alexa/post/042be85c-5a62-4c55-a18d-d7a82cf394df/esp-moves-to-the-cloud-for-alexa-enabled-devices

There is a new Alexa Cast feature. It works like Google Cast, allowing you to play Amazon Music on various Alexa speaker groups and control via another device instead of issuing voice commands. Currently, Amazon Music only but they gave vague statements that it'll support other things in the future: https://www.theverge.com/2018/7/26/17616510/amazon-alexa-cast-announced-music-playback-control

Echo devices get equalizer control. Some you can now change the bass, midrange and highs using voice commands like "Alexa, turn up the bass". This also extends to 3rd party integrated speakers so you can adjust certain soundbars as well so you can say things like "Alexa, set the TV to night mode". https://developer.amazon.com/blogs/alexa/post/d7089b95-798b-42e5-9966-69b4cf1939e0/alexa-crank-up-the-bass-announcing-equalizer-and-sounds-mode-controls-for-smart-home-entertainment-devices

And finally there are leaked images of the 3rd gen Echo Dot: http://www.aftvnews.com/new-3rd-gen-amazon-echo-dot-images-leak/. It seems like the main feature will be improved audio.
 

GAMEPROFF

Member
Oct 26, 2017
4,907
Germany
Alexa Cast is the best feature of the thing since its developed. Have been waiting for it for so long, I just hope the Windows App also gets the feature.



First leaked pictures of the Echo Dot Gen 3
 
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Oct 26, 2017
4,578
Hi all,

Getting my feet wet with new smart home features. Ordered an Echo Spot and a Wyze cam for baby's room. Will also get light bulbs for kids' rooms so i can turn off lights they leave on. Really looking forward to this.

Question: Will an ecobee thermostat be a waste of money if i do not have an AC zoning system in my house (control temps in different rooms)?

Any other advice/features you can recommend to keep in mind?
 

RetroMG

Community Resettler
Avenger
Oct 25, 2017
1,895
Hi all,

Getting my feet wet with new smart home features. Ordered an Echo Spot and a Wyze cam for baby's room. Will also get light bulbs for kids' rooms so i can turn off lights they leave on. Really looking forward to this.

Question: Will an ecobee thermostat be a waste of money if i do not have an AC zoning system in my house (control temps in different rooms)?

Any other advice/features you can recommend to keep in mind?
YMMV, but the white noise or brown noise skills on the Echo was a lifesaver when my kiddo was a baby. We'd turn it on (usually brown noise) when we were trying to put her to sleep, and she'd zonk right out. We still use it in her room, mostly to mask other noises in the house or outside.
 

MrKlaw

Member
Oct 25, 2017
8,707
I wish they made a wireless, waterproof echo as a bathroom/shower speaker. Any good waterproof BT speakers that I could pair with an echo in my bedroom?
 

Guppeth

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,550
Sheffield, UK
I wish they made a wireless, waterproof echo as a bathroom/shower speaker. Any good waterproof BT speakers that I could pair with an echo in my bedroom?
Ultimate Ears make portable speakers with Alexa built in. That’d be more convenient than pairing with an Echo. I’m considering a UE Blast to replace my v2 Echo, since I can leave it in the charging dock and move it to the bathroom when needed.
 

BAD

Member
Oct 25, 2017
5,265
USA
I’m invested in Apple’s ecosystem, but I read that Alexa is the best assistant. Anyone care to say how well Alexa plays with an iOS user? I’m already worried by it not having Apple Music (last comment Amazon made on this was that there’s not many Apple Music Subscribers, but that’s BS as it’s the most subscribed to music service in the USA)
 

MrKlaw

Member
Oct 25, 2017
8,707
I'm an ios user - what do you want it to do? I don't have a homekit setup but I expect they'd work alongside each other.

I mean it basically does most things independently of any devices - you can stream via bluetooth to the dot (not sure about the newer full echo), the app on the phone is mainly used to set it up and add skills. It controls a lot of the same things that homekit can - hue bulbs, wemo switches etc.

its pretty OS agnostic really.
 

bardo

Member
Jan 12, 2018
2,858
How does one get Alexa to play a bad like BADBADNOTGOOD? She can say the name if I ask for the song, but if I say the name she's clueless...

Thanks in advance.
 
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Somnid

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,708
Amazon release the Alexa Auto SDK which allows developers to easily integrate Alexa with their car infotainment systems: https://developer.amazon.com/blogs/alexa/post/b62cbff0-9674-4166-b476-9ad4cf74e9bf/announcing-the-alexa-auto-software-development-kit-sdk. If this sounds familiar it's because Amazon has been working with several car manufacturers developing some of these features for quite some time now but now it's a completely open SDK.

Sonos now have the ability to use Alexa announcements: http://www.aftvnews.com/sonos-one-and-sonos-beam-smart-speakers-now-support-alexa-announcements/

Eufy Genie is the first 3rd party device to support Alexa calling and messaging: http://www.aftvnews.com/eufy-genie-is-the-first-non-amazon-device-to-support-alexa-calling-and-messaging/

There was an official announcement for Mexican Spanish indicating a release of Echo devices later this year: https://developer.amazon.com/blogs/alexa/post/5364c3a4-100f-44cd-ae95-e63d1b2b0ada/how-to-update-your-alexa-skills-for-mexico (Spanish Spanish is being tested and will come around the same time).

How does one get Alexa to play a bad like BADBADNOTGOOD? She can say the name if I ask for the song, but if I say the name she's clueless...

Thanks in advance.
You generally can't if it doesn't understand it. This was a big problem trying to get it to play foreign titles but it looks like they might be fixing that: https://developer.amazon.com/blogs/alexa/post/ec66406c-094c-4dbc-8e9f-01050b27d43d/automatic-transliteration-can-help-alexa-find-data-across-language-barriers. If it's through Amazon Music you can use the new casting feature to select it from the app to play. The way I got around this previously was to make playlists that it could understand.
 

bardo

Member
Jan 12, 2018
2,858
You generally can't if it doesn't understand it. This was a big problem trying to get it to play foreign titles but it looks like they might be fixing that: https://developer.amazon.com/blogs/alexa/post/ec66406c-094c-4dbc-8e9f-01050b27d43d/automatic-transliteration-can-help-alexa-find-data-across-language-barriers. If it's through Amazon Music you can use the new casting feature to select it from the app to play. The way I got around this previously was to make playlists that it could understand.
Ah, I'll give that a shot. Thanks!