[Deprecated] Ask Alexa 2.1.6

Announcing version 2.1.6a of Ask Alexa

The SmartApp has only changed in this release. However, It is always recommended that you update your Amazon developer slots after an upgrade to ensure you are capturing all of the available variables used within Ask Alexa.

PLEASE NOTE: I know I said I wouldn’t do quick releases, but found some bugs I wanted to solve before I really lock this code down. Now that this is rather stable now and I may not update it further unless some bugs are found. I am waiting to see if Google releases integration APIs for their new Google Home, and for Amazon to release their ‘push’ notifications. If you do have a great feature idea for this app, however, just let me know.

Addition to this new version include:

  • Bug Fixes - The normal things…silly misspellings, logic errors, bug reports. Found a few from the prior release when I optimized the code
  • Code Optimization - Always finding better ways to do things in a shorter about of code.
  • MyEcobee Custom Climates - Thanks to @yvesracine for testing and code revisions. This will gather any custom climates you might have on your Ecobee and allow you to access them. Not tested fully and may only work with Yves custom DTH.
  • Default heating/cooling - Similar to the switches in the thermostat device group, you can now have a ‘default’ sent to the thermostat when requesting a temperature change. Before you needed to designate “heat” or “cool” in your command…If you set one of these defaults you will no longer have to include those. This is helpful for folks that stay in one more for a good portion of the year. This was suggested by @RZR666

Because of the new functionality in this revision it is advised to run through the entire setup to capture everything….specifically the developer apps.
For those wishing to re-install, the instructions on the wiki have been updated:
The wiki for this app is here: http://thingsthataresmart.wiki/index.php?title=Ask_Alexa

All of you have been great in asking very relevant questions and making suggestions that I end up using. Here are some helpful tips on usage and support:

  • Sometimes it works best if I can work real time with you. To facilitate this, I have created a Slack channel: https://askalexa.slack.com. Using this tool is easy and will allow for real-time collaboration to solve the problems faster. To use this feature, I must invite you to the Slack channel. This will not be for normal questions; please use this forum for that function.
  • The Echo, as it is designed currently, cannot react to switches opening or other actions within SmartThings. She will do things for you, but only at your direction and at the time of the request. The delay timer mentioned in the control macro happens at the SmartThings hub, not within the Amazon Alexa control. See the new Message Queue functions for similar functionality.
  • When evaluating new features I will typically ask for a valid use case. If it can be used by others to bring them value I will put it on my list of future revisions. Not all suggestions will be used and many times I add aspects of the request.
  • There are no dumb questions, but many of the questions you may have were probably answered in the past months since the initial release. Please take some time to go through the forum and the wiki if you have issues. And don’t be offended if I give you the specific area of the manual that answers your question. I have spent almost as much time on the documentation as I have on the app. Finally, there are some big fans of Ask Alexa that know almost as much as I do. They can also help.
  • Feel free to send me forks of utterances or even code revisions. As mentioned above, if it adds value to the overall program I will try to include it. This also goes for the wiki documentation…while I have spent about 120+ hours creating that document, I am open to it being improved; I know there are grammatical errors or syntax issues…If you find them, fix them…I will include your name (if I can) in any fixes submitted.
  • If you find a bug or a consistent crash please help me track it down by giving me repeatable steps to reproduce it. A non-reproducible bug, many times, indicates other areas that may be at fault besides the app. If you watch the live logging and see a red error with a line number, that is very helpful to me! However, I will need a full screenshot and not a copy/paste of the text. But be careful about revealing your OAuth and AppToken in your public posts. People can control you house with that information. May want to blur that out.

As mentioned above, revisions will be less and less now. And with the code base now unified, I expect less and less additions…especially as we integrate CoRE more to do some of the heavy lifting of larger condition-base automations… Any and all suggestions are still on the table for addition.

As always, I appreciate any public accolades or even donations to my PayPal account: https://www.paypal.me/mstruck . And, if you are so inclined, I also will accept bitcoins (or fractions thereof) if you have any laying around. My wallet ID is: 1CMgaiKgBfojTBCLpHLfa9KvcrW3cNxVpm



Superb mate!

Not sure if this is related directly to 2.1.6A but when I get my lock report, the door unlocked is stated with a questioning inflection.


I hear: “All the doors and windows are closed but the Front Door is unlocked?” (she’s saying it in a way that questions the door status)

When the door is locked, it sounds normally as, “All the doors and windows are closed an locked.” (stated as a statement)

Not sure if this is something you can change/control but something I noticed and thought I’d report it…

I looked at the code and there is no question mark in there…I have seen this a couple times in the past that she ‘assumes’ that it is a question even without a question mark and changes her inflection.

I will try to reproduce this and see if I can tweak the syntax to make it sound more natural.

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I did verify this…usually I can find a work around for this with some punctuation. Unfortunately, it seems that when it sees unlocked at the end it wants to strangely pronounce it…un-loacked is what it sounds like.

Fortunately, Amazon is constantly tweaking its voice model…I have seen things correct themselves without any re-programming on my end…

No problem at all. Was more cosmetic but thought I’d throw it out there. I don’t think it was doing this yesterday but noticed it this morning but didn’t update any of your code or make changes. Like you say, probably Amazon messing around :wink:

Thanks for the check


In the spirit of ‘there are no dumb questions’ :grin:

Can you tell me whether it’s possible using Ask Alexa / CoRE etc… to say a phrase e.g. Alexa, tell SmartThings to trigger / turn on chillout mode…

…and for Alexa to turn off certain lights and play a playlist of chillout songs through the Amazon Echo (I have my Spotify account linked up already)?

Correct…no dumb questions…and this has never been asked before so it is actually a good question…

Some of what you are looking for is possible…You would set up a control macro that would set the lights. However, however, there is no way that I have currently to control music from your playlist on the Alexa…Think of the skill as an app on your phone, and the Alexa is your phone itself…Then think of the music piece of the Alexa as another app…Unfortunately, my ‘app’ is isolated to itself…so I can’t access other ‘apps’ (or core functionality) on the Alexa. Probably a bad anology, but it basically means I am limited to my app and can’t go back and control functions of the Alexa.

I AM adding an audio output on the control macros (idea by @bamarayne) so you could play text or audio through a connected speaker or speech device, but this would also be limited to Sonos or some other speaker…not the Alexa speaker itself.

Hope that all makes sense.

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Thanks for this. Very well put. This is probably more a CoRE question but as a way round, would it be possible to hit an endpoint through the Spotify API and get that to play through the Echo instead?

Seems like sonus is the only alternative and Id like to avoid their prices if possible!

The Control macros can hit API endpoints…but have never tried what you are suggesting. And again, you have to initiate the Echo to get anything to happen with it, so I don’t believe Core OR Ask Alexa will give you what you need.