Impatience as Impetus: Building Alexa Sonos Integration

I’m impatient. I like new toys and new technologies and I generally don’t want to wait to play with them. We’ve been happy Sonos customers for years now, and Alexa customers since the UK launch. So when Sonos and Amazon announced a partnership to directly integrate the two in August last year, I was cautiously optimistic, albeit impatient to see it working. They promised a beta in 2016 and a launch in early 2017. I didn’t hear anything for the rest of that year, and wondered when we’d get an update on progress… Continue reading

More good news for Alexa users in the UK

There is a huge discrepancy between the huge list of Alexa “skills” available in the US, and those available to us using Alexa on the other side of the pond. In encouraging news this week, Amazon looks set to automatically create UK instances of existing US only skills.

Amazon have emailed developers (yes, I registered as a US developer early on) to say that the migration will begin on Feb 16th. Developers can opt out, but unless their skill only makes sense in the US, I don’t see why they would.

As you’d expect, Amazon have a comprehensive FAQ on all this.

 

Impressive Ring Customer Service

This was impressive and unexpected. Last night I received an email from Ring – the manufacturers of my Ring Video Doorbell, a device about which I have previously enthused. Their analytics had noticed a potential issue with the wireless signal my doorbell was connecting to and the email was to offer me a piece of hardware – for free – to mitigate the problem. Continue reading

Alexa and Harmony

I’m not sure when this Alexa skill appeared in the U.K., but it is now possible to directly control a Logitech Harmony Hub from Alexa.

This means (since I have the computer wake word enabled) I can say:

Computer, tell Harmony to turn on Plex.

So now we can turn on the living room lights and choose the media while walking into the room. It also allows voice control of pausing – something I’ve already used once tonight when getting up to answer the front door.

Computer, tell Harmony to pause.

And, at the end of the evening:

Computer, tell Harmony to turn off.

I would prefer a more elegant – or just shorter – construction for these commands, but this is a good start.

One downside: all the Dots end up controlling just one Harmony Hub, so I can’t differentiate between devices in the living room and the cinema room. I hope this is on Logitech’s roadmap.

They do still need to fix the recognition of “computer” for Lindsay though!