Your Alexa routine stopped working? It might be due to Announcements

Alexa’s routines, especially those scheduled on an hourly basis or on events such as sunrise and sunset, are very convenient, who doesn’t like them? The evening time arrives, your echo dots with joyful voice announces “Good evening, it’s close to sunset time, turning on the lights!” and the lights come on …? Or at least they should. They did it until a couple of weeks ago, now nothing.

If the announcement starts it cannot be a connectivity or wifi problem otherwise the dots themselves would not even spell a word, could it be a temporary glitch of the Philips service that should control the lights or maybe the lights Hub itself could have stalled? Yet giving myself the command “Turn on Home” lights do work … so both the Philips Alexa skill and the physical hub are connected and working, so what is wrong with the routine that until two weeks ago was fine and now it’s not?

mindblown classic gifWithout too much conviction I do a test with the only unsuspectable element of the routine, that is the “Announce” voice broadcast action to my devices, I move it within my “Good evening” routine from first on the list to last, after the actual commands who turn on the Philips lights and candles via the Broadlink remote control, and magic! Everything works again.

I did the same test with a brand new non-existing routine, and effectively any action within a routine that occurs after an announce-type command is completely ignored. When the announce command is moved into the routine, only the commands that precede it will actually be executed and the ones after are ignored without any feedback.

It is a behavior (bug?) that until a few weeks ago did not occur, for other commands such as “Custom” where the utterance of a voice command to Alexa is simulated via TTS it is clearly indicated that this action must be the last of all the routine when trying to move it up.

Alexa app screenshot in Italian, trying to move the Custom type action to the top of the routine a notification appears at the top that warns that it can only be at the end of the routine

TL;DR

if you have routines with a “Send Announcement” action inside, move it as the last command, otherwise you risk that it will be partially executed or not at all.

PS: notice how the responsiveness of the web UI is a real nightmare, it never understands what you really want to do and if it does it’s a real slowpoke, if you have to save on native app developers because they cost too much at least get decent web developers, coming from someone who knows a thing or two about it.

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https://sresc.io/14nR

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