Strange New Alexa Behavior

Over the last few days when I invoke Roomie Remote via Alexa, there is an additional new response from Alexa for certain commands.

Command: “Alexa, tell Roomie Remote to start Apple TV in Family Room”

Old response was something like: “Roomie Remote started Apple TV in Family Room”

New response is something like: “Handing off to Roomie Remote by Roomie Remote, Incorporated. [SLIGHT PAUSE] Roomie Remote started Apple TV in Family Room.”

It doesn’t seem to happen on every command, but maybe about 75% of them.

Anybody else facing this? Is this an Alexa issue? A Roomie issue? I looked through my Alexa app for any settings that look new and possibly related to such a change in behavior, but nothing stood out.

Happy to open a ticket if needed.

That happened to me for a week or so a few weeks ago, but it seems to have gone away. Anyway, has nothing to do with us. It’s just Alexa in a mood. It’s possible you could get it changed/stopped by contacting Amazon, but it’s just how Alexa deals with skills. They do lots of things like that. Asking if you enjoy the skill, whether it did the right thing, handing off, giving a voice reply or a tone. Getting consistency is not the strong point.

Siri doesn’t do any of that.

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Thanks, Will. I guess I will wait and see if it goes away. Searching Google shows a thread where others reported this starting to happen with various skills in the middle of November. Agree that occasionally she gets a little strange.

Wanted to let @bjs know that mine is doing this too. However, I only checked it after reading your post and doing it via your method (i.e. “Alexa, tell Roomie Remote to…”.

Alternatively, the method I use is to simply say “Alexa, turn on Living Room Apple TV”, followed only by the Alexa “ding” when successfully run.

For setup: Behind the scenes, there is a “device” (in Alexa multiple devices within the Alexa app) which is actually a Roomie Remote activity. I’d guess that since you’re already using Alexa for Roomie that your Roomie activities have already been discovered as “devices” in Alexa app. If not, go to devices in Alexa app, then click the + to add device, then discover on your network.

Once they are discovered, you’ll see all Roomie activities in this Alexa device list (assuming you haven’t hidden them from Alexa in Roomie settings). You can simply rename them to whatever you want (i.e. I title mine by the room then the activity), such as “Living Room Apple TV”, but really you could just name it “Apple TV” if you didn’t have multiple rooms. Whatever you name it, you’d just say “Alexa, turn on (name)” and it will run that, followed by the ding (assuming you have this feature turned on in Alexa as opposed to the default Alexa “ok”).

Within settings for that “device” in Alexa you’ll see that it says “Scene provided by Roomie…” and refers to the actual activity name and room in Roomie.

Hey Chris, thanks for this detailed post.

I was super excited to see your approach when I read it. I was pretty sure I had never seen Roomie activities anywhere in Alexa, but thought maybe I was missing something.

After double checking last night, making sure I had Alexa enabled on my primary Roomie device, ensuring I had all activities selected for Alexa visibility, and doing a new discovery (several, actually), I still do not see Roomie activities in Alexa. I looked under devices and scenes, but they aren’t there.

Went to the Roomie user guide to make sure I wasn’t missing anything, and think I have everything configured correctly.

Any thoughts on what I might be missing?

You know what, I remembered that there is an additional Alexa skill that is required (Note: The Alexa Smart Home skill for Roomie Remote is titled Simple Control in the Alexa app. The Custom Skill is titled Roomie Remote.)

See this info in the Roomie knowledge base:

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To clarify @ackattack is describing the “Simple Control” skill [or that is what it is called still because it is convenient for it to use a different name so for the moment it actually seems better that it uses the old name]. As per documentation, we recommend linking both the “Roomie Remote” and “Simple Control” skills.

One thing about the Smart Home skills from Alexa (which corresponds to the “Simple Control” skill) is that there is no longer an obvious button to force an update of the device/activity list. But you can now say “Alexa, Discover my devices” to do that. That should force a refresh of what Alexa thinks is current. Certainly, Activities are part of that if you have not removed their visibility via the Alexa Visibility options.

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Got it. Thanks. I was curious how it was going to work with Roomie being a custom skill. I had thought the smart home skill had been retired. I will install it and I am sure that will resolve the issue.

Installed the smart home skill. Did discovery. Things are showing up. Need to disable some of the enabled activities, devices, and rooms and rediscover when I have time since Alexa saw 65 new devices show up. But this gets me on my way. For complex commands that require the custom skill it will be interesting to see how long Alexa stays in her current “mood” with the "handing off . . . " response, but, of course, most commands are the basic ones handled by the smart home skill.

Thanks, guys.

@ackattack & @Will_Price,

Thanks, guys, for the helpful info. Made the changes over the weekend and at least for the activity actions the Smart Home skill eliminated the invocation name requirement and the “handing off to . . .” silliness from Alexa.

Appreciate the suggestion and guidance.

Alternatively you could just build an Alexa Routine and bypass the Roomie specific actuation language. The routine would be of the form of “when you say” a particular phrase “Alexa will” call the smart home device in question and turn it on or off. Roomie devices only show up under the Alexa category of “all devices” and the poweroff activity is labelled as the room itself. What you will end up with is "Alexa turn on Movie Lights " and it calls the roomie activity you select and turns it on or off as you choose.
I find it useful in so much as it shortens and simplifies the Roomie/Alexa language, but also useful in so much as you can write many routines to call the same activity which accommodates variations in language: “Alexa turn on Movie Lights”, “Alexa turn Movie Lights on” etc etc. which results in a much higher Alexa success rate.

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Thanks for this post. It’s helped me solve some issues I have converting from my old Simple Control setup to Roomie 6.

I’d like to add a couple of points for clarity, in case others are looking for this solution. The device list can be hard to find in the Alexa app, at least it is on my phone. When I select “Devices”, the resulting page has a row of icons at the top. You have to scroll the row right to see “All Devices” which gives you the complete device list that contains all the roomie devices. I had a lot of old garbage devices in there leftover from Simple Control and also from more recent configurations, where I had abandoned a room or activity name because it wasn’t working well. Things started working much better when I cleaned out all the potential name and device conflicts.

I still see a lot of unexplained behavior. I have a Kitchen activity named Display, that I just use to turn a Sony TV on and off for use as a computer display. I changed its name to simply “Display”, but I still have to use the command, “turn on kitchen display”. If I say “turn on display”, I get “Display doesn’t support that”.

A “Group” (under devices in Alexa app) is also a way to simplify. Add any devices you want to the group and then you only have to say “Alexa, turn on (name of group)…no room necessary.