Amazon Echo Skill App vs Amazon Alexa App?

It's on the todo list to make it an option you can choose.

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Do I take it that UK users still can't use the new Alexa Skill?

In a fit of enthusiasm, I just tried moving my lighting over to the new skill from the old 'Emulate a Hue Bridge' app. I can select the skill on the alexa app, and I can pair it with Hubitat... and it can even discover devices (I'm only exposing GROUP devices for fear of it blowing up on device limits). However... the alexa app permanently reports 'device is unresponsive', and needless to say... it can't actually DO anything.

Am I being a thickie, or is this still broken for the UK at least?

Best Regards,


PS. Given the way that Alexa works - this might also be relevant - since I've patched the hub itself... doesn't look to be able to see my hub. It gives me an empty screen. I can connect directly to the hub, and it says that nothing's wrong.

Remove the Amazon Echo app from HE if you’re going to use the Amazon Echo Skill app.

Delete all your devices in the Alexa App and rediscover. Oh, and I cannot highly recommend enough that you assign a group to every device. Do it after you delete all devices, but before you rediscover. Put devices that will always operate together in a single group. All other devices, put in a group by themselves.

Why do this? The reason is if you have to delete all devices for any reason, the groups remain part of your routines. Your routine don’t get messed up. Then you can just sit down at your laptop or desktop and reassign the devices to groups. Very fast and so much easier than scrolling up and down a list that keeps shifting every time you make a change.

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Definitely get up with to get your Hub to show up in the portal again. Often this is caused by the hub getting assigned a different tcp/ip address via dhcp. Always a good idea to configure your router to statically assign an address via dhcp to prevent the hub’s address from changing.

Cheers. Yeah... I'd removed the old app and all the devices.

Thanks for the tip on the groups. At the moment, I'm only exposing groups of lights in the first place - I don't like the amount of work it would take to add an individual group to every light - but for now, there's sufficient automation if it can simply voice control the groups, and if that's working properly, I'll move over the ST rules that do things like turn un-hue'd lamps on if they observe other hue'd lamps in the room work.

To be honest... just about every automation system does a really bad job at bulk interfaces for moving lots of devices around. Deleting 100 lights from Alexa's brain is almost unimaginably painful, and ST isn't any better. For Hubitat - at least I can delete a whole bridge at a time, and (slow discovery notwithstanding), that's lass of an arse.

-- Jules

Hmmm, Will do. I definately had the hub on DHCP - I'll stick a reservation in the router for it at least - static IP assignment is a bit tedious on this range - I've already had to stretch the subnet once.

-- Jules

:flushed: Oh man, either you live in a mansion or your house would be way too bright for me!

Hehe. You can really crank up the lighting counts. The kitchen needs 14 GU10 style lights to light it, for example, and you occasionally get forced into stupid things just to get a light that fits. As an idea... to get an easily automatable picture-light, the only fittings I could find accept two 'candle' style bulbs, rather than a single incandescent strip. So if you've got a run of picture lights going down a corridor, you can easily get to double digits there, too.

In this case... there are 13 groups, of which 2 are hallways (upstairs and downstairs respectively), and 2 of which are exterior. There's another floor that I've not even STARTED on lighting for, but that's another story.

Ah! OK. I'm an idiot. Had my work VPN up still. It doesn't block local LAN access, but it was obviously mucking with whatever discovery logic the portal uses :wink:

Sadly, though... that means that the fact I can't see the hub in the portal isn't relevant to why the Alexa skill isn't working for me. :frowning:

-- Jules

OK. so... digging into the diagnostics for the Alexa skill... two things spring to mind:

  1. The locale is down as 'eu-west-1', which seems plausible for an amazon region.
  2. There's a scheduled Job entitled 'getAlexaAccessToken', which has a status of 'PENDING'. That doesn't look right.
  3. The logs are full of 'Error making call to Alexa message gateway, of the type below:

app:82018-11-26 10:24:02.935 pm errorError making Call to Alexa message gateway: {"header":{"namespace":"System","name":"Exception","messageId":"27f0d052-f3b8-42fe-b6cd-03979494c734"},"payload":{"code":"SKILL_DISABLED_EXCEPTION","description":"The user does not have a valid enablement for your skill."}}

  1. When attach the Hubitat skill in the alexa app... I note that is pulling an auth from: ''. I can't help noticing that is a different Region from the earlier locale. It's not obvious to me whether that's a problem or not... but given the lack of authorisation... maybe.

It's all a very in depth analysis. Sorry if I missed this, but have you deleted the old lights that were discovered by the Alexa App when using the Amazon Echo app with HE? Alexa will continue to look at devices in the Alexa app that no longer have a link to the actual device. It will even do it with the same account. I've had this happen with Wink, ST and Hue.

You have to go in and find all the old devices and delete them. That is a huge pain when you have many devices. That's why I suggest deleting all and re-discovering. It's Alexa, you're going to be forced to do it sooner or later. And also why I suggest spending the time to get the groups setup. Not difficult to work with groups since you can do it from a browser with

Sounds like you have many lights that belong together in a group, not individual in a group, so it's not going to be 100 groups needed. Just be sure to create the group names the same as the lights, for individual lights that will operate alone sometimes or all the time. If you try to do it after discovery, the Alexa app will tell you the name is already in use. If you create the Alexa group with that name first, the light with the same name will be discovered without issue. Then just add the light that belongs to the group of the same name via desktop browser. It's a small bit of work compared to the future time savings.

Yeah. I've correctly removed and re-added them all. I've already had to deal with the pain, too, that is Philips Hue's never removing authentication keys for devices, even if they're no longer privileged for access.

Thanks for the group information. That's interesting, although it's been my experience that having ANYTHING in the HA space with a duplicate name (and sometimes, even a name with the same name as a generic category word) will sooner or later bite you in the bum. I tend to end up naming things like 'GardenGroup', for that sort of reason.

Sadly... it's not a device discovery problem. That bit works fine. It looks like it's a Alexa Permissions Token sort of problem to me.

-- Jules

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Had Alexa since December 2015. Bum is yet to be bitten by the Group names. :grin:


So... forward progress of a sort. I've got the new Alexa skill working (after a fashion) in the UK.

Things I did:

  1. Renamed the Garden light group in the Hue app to 'Back Garden'.
  2. Tried to remove that group from the relevant Hubitat Hue Bridge Integration. Discovered that the 'remove' button on the 'add groups' page actually bins the entire integration.
  3. Re-added the second hue bridge. Pause for nearly an hour while discovery finds the second bridge again.
  4. Re-added all the lights and groups. Hubitat web interface is borderline non-responsive for another hour or more while it digest all the lights. Web interface performance seems to recover once every light status has gone from the UNKNOWN state to ACTIVE. During this time:
  5. Binned Hubitat Amazon Echo skill. Re-added it.
  6. Removed Alexa Hubitat skill and re-added it. Re-authorised it.

At this point... the alexa skill was alegedly functional. In practice, though, Alexa would always report that Hubitat wasn't responding, and light operations would happen 30-60 seconds after the command.

Fast forward to after the hub had calmed down again, and lights appear responsive, and to be doing the right things. However... Alexa still reports that Hubitat isn't responding in about 25% of cases that I operate it. That's my next thing to investigate.

Thus far.... it looks like the answer is: 'Yes... the modern Alexa skill CAN work in the UK, but only if you set it up right (still not sure how it was wrong in the first place), and the old skill, whilst much less featured (no light colour control, for example), does appear considerably more reliable.

So... I'll poke around a bit more, but assuming I don't have a breakthrough, we're then into 'revert to the old skill, and stop wanting this'.

-- Jules

An observation about the Alexa App vs Echo Skill is that the Alexa App controls devices locally whereas the Echo Skill controls them through the cloud.

Although I understand that cloud to cloud integrations are easier to manage and support, the fact that my echo integrated devices become unresponsive through alexa when I disable Hubitat's internet access is really unfortunate if this is the only supported option going forward.

A lot of people purchased Hubitat precisely to avoid the cloud-to-cloud control model and this goes against that philosophy. For the time being, I will continue using the Alexa App as it works just fine and my setup is simple.

True enough, Kosta... although it's more accurate to say that the Alexa app punts your voice command to Amazon's cloud for processing, and then that cloud replies to the Alexa which then hits up the hub, as opposed to the skill option where Amazon's cloud hits the Hubitat cloud service, which then hits up the hub.

Generally, I'm all in favour of local processing, and in fact, it's one of the major reasons I went this way... but by the time I'm punting my voice recordings cloud-wards as the first step of it getting processed, that ship has pretty much sailed for me. That being said... I'm going down a line where voice control of lighting is what you do if normal mode/motion/presence control isn't doing what you want, so I'm less fussed if it doesn't work in the event of an internet outage.

Your use-case is interesting, though... what's the thinking behind being happy to allow Echo's/Alexa's to have internet access (with all of the attendant privacy issues that necessarily entails), but not be happy for Hubitat to do the same?

-- Jules

It's interesting where we each draw the line.

At one extreme, people have Hubitat automate as much as they can, so that no one ever touches a switch. At the other, people automate the switches so that they inform the hub.

I personally am aiming for the fully automated extreme, without an actual expectation of making it.. just willing to try hard. :smiley:

The result is, my Echos have nothing to contribute towards 'improving' my house. An internet outage would kill them for certain, but I might not notice for 10-20 hours. That's not the same as saying the Echos are useless in the grand scheme of things. They are great for showing off :smiley: when a friend comes to visit. I wouldn't trade that glee away. :slight_smile:

At the other extreme, I can absolutely see how an Echo or GH feeds into 'touching' a switch to inform the Hub (of what changes you want.) In that scenario, I can imagine the loss is large. But I'm afraid I agree with @JulesT: if voice processing in the cloud is permitted, how does that exposure alter Hubitat's allowed mechanism?

This is normally where my Alexa decides its hissy fit time, and spouts the words "So and so isn't responding" :cry: Did it to me at Christmas, the cow.

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Good question, I think it comes down to inbound vs outbound traffic. Having a cloud server push down commands to my local network seems unnecessary when I already have a device on the local network (echo) which can fire off that command locally after its done transcribing my voice.

It's not really about privacy as much as opening up the ability to issue commands to my home devices from the internet. My setup is super simple and I only need to control devices when I am at home, connected to my network, so I would prefer the remote (internet) control option to be opt-in rather than a requirement.

That said, I do realize that connecting devices to alexa automatically opens them up to remote control via the alexa app, so it's a bit of a moot point. I am attempting to come up with a firewall rule that would keep the echo operational but block cloud based control via the app. If that has been attempted and evaluated as not possible, do let me know so that I don't have to waste an evening trying to do it. :slight_smile:

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