Anyone any experience in UK with Echosistant?


(Peter Richardson) #1

Just looking for a way to make Alexa much more clever and integrated into my smartthings set up.

Have done stuff with the ide before but that’s about as complex as I’ve got (installing and using stuff like Rule Machine back in the day).

Is Echosistant the right way to go? Saw another one that the name escapes me of but it needed an amazon dev account set up, which is me out. Is that the same for Echosistant?


(Micheal ) #2

The two apps you are thinking of is Echosistant and Ask Alex. I can not speak of Echosistant, but Ask Alexa does work in the UK. The thread for the install is here: [RELEASE] Ask Alexa

and

the instructions are here: http://thingsthataresmart.wiki/index.php?title=Ask_Alexa


(Ben) #3

Also in the UK. I have Ask Alexa working well. Just followed the instructions step by step and it installed fairly easily. I’m planning on trying Echosistant when I have a few hours spare to install.


(John) #4

I’ve got Echosistant working well in the UK… It takes a while to set up initially but it’s definitely worth it… I would recommend trying version 4.0 when you’ve got a spare couple of hours!


(Paul) #5

Can you summarise the main difference between the 2?


(Jason "The Enabler" as deemed so by @Smart) #6

EchoSistant was designed primarily as a communications app that utilized the Amazon Alexa service. We have now reached Version 4 and the app has really grown.

Our goal has been to fill in the gaps of the Alexa Experience. We have learned to make Alexa much more personable and pleasurable to use. With our free speech engine we are able to accomplish some pretty amazing things.

Initial install can be kind of daunting, but @SBDOBRESCU and I are always here and more than willing to help you through any trouble.

Is there a specific feature that you are looking for with your Alexa Device? It may already be in the app and if it isn’t we can probably put it in there.

So, just ask any questions you might have…


(Micheal ) #7

Paul,

Good question and one I get about once a week. To be honest, I recommend you install them both as the differences could be considered subjective. Even that statement is subjective, but I will only give the facts if it helps you make any sort of decision:

Ask Alexa grew out of Alexa Helper, the original app I created, which grew out of a mode changing app that was published by me through SmartThings. Ask Alexa has been around for over a year and is used weekly by over 500 unique users, which gives me an estimated installed based of over 1000 users.

I have a good number of actual published apps through SmartThings’ Marketplace. I have heard I am the most published developer, but can’t verify that. In addition, I have been programming as a hobby for over 30 years. I don’t say this to brag, but to establish that I am here to stay and have invested heavily in SmartThings.

I live in the Pacific Northwest and was actually called into Amazon to interview with them based directly on the documentation I put together for Ask Alexa. At the end of the day, I didn’t want a 100 hour work week, but was honored I was asked.

While slightly subjective, because of the age of the app, the installation process is VERY well documented and I have direct feedback (via the forum posts) that while any skill is difficult to install, the instructions I published made it very easy. Jason admits his install is difficult, as do I. Other users have commented Ask Alexa is easier. Again, subjective…read through the documentation and make your own judgement(http://thingsthataresmart.wiki/index.php?title=Ask_Alexa). You will find that my template for documentation is used by other developers, including Jason and Bobby.

Speaking of other developers, Ask Alexa is very developer friendly; I have worked directly with other developers to integrate cross functionality with apps like Core, Nest Manager, Ecobee DTH, DeviceManager, etc and published an open interface for other apps to leave messages for users via Ask Alexa. And, more is coming, where Ask Alexa can be your information hub from other apps. I am expanding the framework that when Amazon releases their push notifications that other apps will be able to use it day one. Think of a door opening, or other app notification coming in, and having it come directly, in real time, through the Echo device. This, of course, is subject to Amazon releasing that function (and my friends at Amazon are being a bit coy on when that will happen).

The apps are not exactly the same; mine shines in reporting of household items (and you can’t beat the huge amount of weather information you can get) and if you want a neat intercom system (that sends to external speakers like Sonos) then Jason and Bobby’s app is the way to go. While some would point out the conversational aspect of their app, I have heard that is rather subjective as well, with Ask Alexa building off its very well structured framework to also give the user the ability to build conversational modules on their own without the need to have the code reprogrammed when a new phrase is developed. All of this is in the hands of the user.

Again, your needs will really drive which you will use long term. If you do get to the point where it is a toss up, why not keep them both in your account…I have multiple screwdrivers in my tool kit in my garage, and while I have a favorite, not every one can be used on every job.

Enjoy!


(Paul) #8

@bamarayne
@MichaelS
@SBDOBRESCU

Thanks all, appreciate you taking the time.

I’m an Ask Alexa user, (nice work Michael), I’m one of those 1,000 users and if anyone else is reading this and feels daunted but the install process just give it a go, as stated the documentation is very good.

I guess the answer is to get on with it, install it and observe both working, always room for more screwdrivers!

Michael, informative and interesting :slight_smile:

Thanks again.


(Jason "The Enabler" as deemed so by @Smart) #9

Great points Michael, but you’re a bit off base on your statements of EchoSistant. I’d love to see you install it and get a first hand experience of what it can do for you too, instead of just “hearing” about it.

Peter and Paul, take Michael’s advice, install both apps. You will find them both very useful and the least that will happen is that your SmartThings experience will become better.

I’ll highlight some of the outstanding features of EchoSistant.

App Install ~ Both Apps install exactly the same. They both require a Lambda account and function, An Amazon Skills account and Skills, and SmartThings IDE install of the app. Both are documented extremely well and you will find them very similar… remember, the install is almost identical.

Multi-Room Control ~ EchoSistant gives you multi-room control with only the most basic creation of a Profile.

Voice Activated App Settings ~ EchoSistant allows the user to activate and deactivate app settings by simply talking to Alexa. This reduces your time wasted going into your phone to change things.

Example, for the continued commands. You may have them activated but want them off while you are working on something. You simple say, Alexa, tell my home to turn off the conversation. That’s it. No more continued command request. Then you just tell her to turn them back on when you’re ready.

CoRE integration ~ EchoSistant is also integrated with CoRE. It does not need to be integrated with the other apps like Ecobee and Nest. It can control those devices via Alexa while you continue to use the other apps.

Free Speech Engine~ In EchoSistant, you create your Profile and then you just talk to your Alexa Device. It will take what ever you say and repeat it where you tell it to.

I have a speaker in my kids room. I just say, Alexa, tell Justin that I need you to come downstairs and bring your dirty clothes.
This plays on his speaker. “Justin, I need you to come downstairs and bring your dirty clothes”.
He can the respond on the Dot in his room, Alexa, tell Dad that I will be there in just a couple of minutes. I get a text on my phone that says that exact thing.

EchoSistant gives you a custom message every single time. The Free speech Engine gives the user massive flexibility to interact with Alexa. Your family can talk to EchoSistant like they talk. They do not have to learn how to talk to Alexa, we have programmed it so that Alexa can listen to all of you, and know what you want.

App User Interface~ The EchoSistant UI is very flexible. You can configure everything any way you want it. You can select devices all over the app. It’s ok if you choose them in more than one location.

Voice Messages and Reminders ~ Echosistant has voice activated messages and voice activated reminders. Alexa, tell the Kitchen to remind me to take out the trash in 15 minutes. And in 15 minutes, you get the reminder.

I will parrot Michael’s advice, install both apps. It will only improve your SmartThings and Alexa experience.

Thanks

~Jason


(Paul) #10

I’ll be doing just that. Sounds like there are benefits to having both installed which is what I really should have asked int he first place.

Thanks again.

Paul


(Jason "The Enabler" as deemed so by @Smart) #11

I couldn’t agree more… Which is why I tell everyone that asks… Install Both Apps.

AskAlexa is amazing at giving you detailed reports.
EchoSistant is amazing at giving you a great experience controlling your home.

Since you’re already a user of AskAlexa, I’d love to get your opinion about the EchoSistant install process.

Thanks


(Paul) #12

Will do. I’m obviously half way there with the Amazon stuff setup. As soon as I get five minutes from a relentless routine (kids and work) I’ll get it installed and feedback.

Cheers.


(Bobby) #13

I see you have received enough details about the two apps. Just to add to what has already been said, in my opinion, EchoSistant is just a step up in convenience. Just as Ask Alexa was to AskHome, (a friendlier way of interacting with Alexa), EchoSistant is friendlier than Ask Alexa; there are no macros to build and no standard phrases to learn how to speak to Alexa. Is more natural and the community contribution is making it better each day.

EchoSistant adds a flavor of AI to Alexa, which I’ve always wanted and I am glad that the work we put on v4 got us closer…


[DEPRECATED] EchoSistant Version 4.0 ~ Evolved
(Jason "The Enabler" as deemed so by @Smart) #14

I thought y’all might want to see this. Some of us have family that do not have phones our presence senses, but we still want them to have automations.

We released an update today to take care of this…

I call it, the EchoSistant virtual person.

Create virtual presence senses in the app, assign a name, and when that person arrived, they just say, Alexa, tell my home that uncle Bob is checking in. It sets their virtual presence sense to present and their automatons can become active. They just check out before they leave.


(Charles) #15

Is there anything on the horizon from Amazon that would support skill-specific invocation words? Instead of “Alexa, ask home to turn on…” define a skill invocation, e.g. “klupterfuge”, then say just “Klupterfuge, turn on …”. Thus would make both EchoSistent and Ask Alexa more user-friendly. Other than the bureaucracy at Amazon (they seem to be very guarded about allowing alternative invocations), is there a technical hurdle to allowing this?


(Micheal ) #16

With the way the developers are allowed to create skills and the overall structure (from what I have gathered from some folks from Amazon), I wouldn’t expect anything like that soon…it took a while for them just to add “Computer” as a wake word…which, unfortunately in our society, seems to active the device more than the word “Alexa”