Echo Naming Quirks

What do you call it when the Alexa request works 2 out of 5 attempts? I have renamed things a few times due to this inconsistency, but I’m puzzled by it. I even tried renaming my “power off everything” switch to the name of “Boobtube” and that apparently is not acceptable. Now, neither is television or direcTv which worked prior to this week. What’s even odder is that Alexa gives me ALL the error messages–and believe me, I’m stubborn enough to repeat the same request 5 times…it may work once, so I try again, then here comes the error messages.

Now, even my “power off” switch doesn’t work at all even though I do believe I have kept the set up the same. I can ask Alexa to “turn on THE TV” (if that doesn’t work, she’ll go with “turn on TV”) and even though I have a separate simulated switch (momentary button didn’t work well for me) for the OFF, I can say "turn OFF TV (or THE TV) and it will go off…at times…

If I didn’t drink before, I can feel the urge to start…LOL

Honestly, I’ve switched over to IFTTT for anything not directly supported by Alexa and it’s worked out well so far. I use Yonomi for Harmony integration but that still can be impacted by reserved words.


Weird, my “Echo, open bedroom shades” quit working about a week ago. “Echo, close bedroom shades” still works…

Alexa has become very unreliable with non-supported integrations. It still works great for lights, but for garage doors and blinds, I’ve switched to IFTTT using custom trigger sayings and it’s worked well.

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I am not real familiar with IFTTT…can you give quick overview of how I would do this with my blinds? Thanks

It’s in the set up FAQ. Just the first section. :sunglasses:

Sure. First, sign up for IFTTT and activate the Smartthings and Echo channels. Then create virtual switches (momentary push buttons) that when turned on, trigger routines or actions that control your blinds. I have three virtual switches and 3 routines, open blinds, close blinds and tilt blinds. Then you create an IFTTT recipe when a say a custom Alexa command “trigger open blinds”, then turn on the ST virtual switch, “vOpen Blinds”, which launches the routine or action. Get the routines and virtual switches working manually before you bother with Alexa. You can also use these routines as widgets in iOS :). This was very high level.

For those of you using “Alexa turn on television ESPN”, etc, Amazon has now broken this as well. Echo is getting dumber by the day.

I contacted Yonomi support to see if it’s that integration that’s the issue.

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Funny you mentioned garage. I have been successful at saying Alexa open the garage door, but if i say close the garage door she refuses, so I created a macro in Ask Alexa…

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Me too, let’s see who gets a response first. Also I asked @YonomiCait here if they are aware of a permanent change or it’s just temporary. My guess is, that Harmony official skill is coming out and Amazon is starting to reserve certain invocations.

That would be sweet. Once it directly integrates with Harmony, should work better and I won’t have a use for Yonomi anymore.

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Give it couple more weeks, it’s in beta now. Cannot wait, either…

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Dag on it…I just checked the Harmony beta and guess what…is just an internal beta, not open to their test group. There is a mini revolt among the beta testers that we have been excluded from this :frowning: This post on their beta testing forum sounds so…well, characteristic of…

"Posted Yesterday, 12:30 PM
Agreed. Logitech needs to support the community they built up. It’s a typical management problem when they re-direct workers to “other projects” without understanding the hard work and relationships their employees have built with customers. Especially customers like us who are giving their time and energy for FREE to help beta test so their mass customer base benefits from a better user experience. The only thing we get in return is trying out new features earlier…but now we seem to have lost that too!

From my various conversations with Amazon support it seems clear that the natural language processing is having difficulty with some of the new device classes, but they want their language gurus to fix it rather than making customers use a specific word pattern. Which is an admirable goal, but meanwhile we get the problems we’ve been discussing.

Anyone who knows me from these forums know that I absolutely hate Technology services that work on Monday and break on Tuesday when the customer hasn’t made any changes. And that’s where these naming quirks are now.

So I shifted to using the IFTTT trigger method for everything except on/off groups, and have been protected from most of the various classification errors that way. I agree it’s not as elegant, but I’d rather have it work every time. :sunglasses:

If you have the time, I would encourage anyone who does run into one of these problems to report it to Amazon support so they know that the issue is having a real impact on customers.

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I notice Alexa has no issues with the voice model I set up in my skill, despite using the same device names that frequently fail with the SmartThings integration. I am not sure why, since Echo has a list of your device names, but perhaps it’s simply not smart enough to prioritize to those names.

I’ve been having problems with my Alexa “groups” of devices. One day a group of lights will turn on/off…and the next day 2 of 3 lights will turn on/off (with the 3rd having to be called my it’s individual name). Then the next day it works fine.

My wife won’t even talk to Alexa anymore…wife approval factor has gone to zero…she uses the mobile app exclusively.

I would definitely report that one to Amazon support (there’s an option in the Alexa app) – – That’s not the same kind of naming quirk we’ve been discussing. The group name should either work or not work, not just selectively do a few of the members of the group. :scream:

According to the person I talked to at Amazon, The fails are because the language parser is not recognizing the phrase as a home automation command. It’s either looking for music with that song title or one of the other various Amazon features.

My guess would be that when you were using your skill it’s like using the IFTTT trigger – –that pathway into the parser is itself giving echo the information that this is for a home automation device.

I’ve mentioned before, but one of the workarounds that Amazon gave me was just to add the word “light” at the end of the device name whether that device is a light or not. The cloud parser will tend to assume that things using the word light are probably home automation devices and look there first.

I was able to prove that this worked for two of the names that had been failing. Note that I didn’t actually change the device name. I just added the word light when I asked echo to do something with that device.

The Whole thing is very frustrating and I hope Amazon clears it up soon.

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The growing pains of Home Automation market is plaguing everyone. Give it time to mature or die…

It may be the difference between using the Home Automation commands which have an interaction model that you can not change, and the Ask/Tell with a Custom interaction model where you can configure the exact words you’ll say. Like Scott, I have no problem with the custom model. But if you don’t say ask ___ or tell ___ you’ll get the official smartthings integration with the non-changeable alexa home automation interaction model…and you are subject to Amazon’s whims, changes, and reserved words.