Amazon Echo is a popular “smart” speaker that responds to Alexa commands and can be used to play a variety of media, among other uses.
They’re great when they work, but like most “smart” technology, they can be riddled with little bugs and frustrations that get in the way of actually enjoying their usefulness.
So if your Amazon Echo has been misbehaving, or if you’re considering buying one and want to be armed with troubleshooting knowledge in advance, read on!
Issue #1 Echo Dots Repeatedly ‘Skip’
The “skipping” issue is just one of many, but since it’s a common enough problem to make the title of this very article, let’s address it first.
When people say their Amazon echo is “skipping,” they’re usually actually talking about at least a couple of different, if similarly frustrating, behaviors.
- One is when the audio suddenly stops, only to start again a moment or two later, often repeating this pattern of “popping” in and out.
- Another is when the audio just “drops,” which is to say it cuts out and never cuts back in; though this is less frequently described with the word “skipping,” it is related.
- Finally, someone using this term might mean the audio literally skips to the next song on an album or playlist, often after a delay where the audio temporarily cuts out.
The most common explanation for all of these is that you’re experiencing some kind of connection issue.
The first thing you should do is turn the speaker off and on again.
If that doesn’t resolve the issue, investigate your Wi-Fi connection; make sure you have a strong internet signal, and that all the cables going to or from your router are connected properly.
Finally, if you’re still experiencing problems, restart your Wi-Fi router by turning it off, waiting 10 seconds, and turning it back on again.
Issue #2: Voice Non-Recognition
The main selling point of “smart” speakers like the Amazon Echo is its Alexa integration and accompanying voice recognition ability.
However, when your voice is not, in fact, being recognized correctly, this can make it infinitely frustrating instead of convenient.
One of Alexa’s most infuriating—and, often, most common—responses to any given query is “I’m sorry, I don’t understand the question.”
Needless to say, one can quickly get very tired of hearing this sentence after repeating oneself several times with clear enunciation and still being misheard by the supposedly “smart” device.
So what to do about it? Well, there are a few things you can try.
First off, you can “train” Alexa to understand you better.
- Just go to “Settings” in your Alexa app, and find the “Voice Training” option.
- Follow the onscreen prompts to train Alexa to hear you more clearly.
- You can also look in “History,” also under “Settings” in the Alexa app, to see a record of exactly what Alexa thinks it heard, every time you made a request.
The voice training should improve Alexa’s accuracy, and when you’re still having trouble, seeing exactly how it misheard you under “history” can help you understand where it’s going wrong.
With any luck, this issue will also gradually resolve itself over time as Alexa gets “used to” the way you speak.
Issue #3: Unskilled “Skills”
Alexa “Skills” are effectively apps that let Alexa do various different things.
Like smartphone apps, most of them are developed by third parties, not Amazon, and often have the purpose of allowing Alexa to integrate its functions with other devices and services.
For instance, you need a Spotify “Skill” in order for Alexa to control Spotify playback, a Sonos “Skill” to allow Alexa to control your Sonos speakers, and so on and so forth.
However, sometimes “Skills” do not interact well with each other, or simply do not work as intended, and this can result in undesired and unexpected behavior.
- For instance, if you have the Sonos “Skill,” you may notice that every time you talk to Alexa, all your Sonos speakers, all throughout your house, decrease their volume at once.
- In theory, this is a helpful feature that allows Alexa to hear you more accurately without being sound-blasted by your Sonos setup.
- But in practice, it can grow rather irritating when, for instance, you ask Alexa a question in your kitchen, and someone listening to music in their bedroom gets a sudden volume dip.
The above is just one of many possible examples of misbehaving “Skills,” but hopefully, you get the idea.
If your “Skills” are misbehaving, there are basically two things to try.
- First, disable and re-enable any “Skills” that seem to be causing problems.
- If that doesn’t fix the issue, then just uninstall them; a “Skill” that doesn’t do what it’s supposed to, is going to be more of a hindrance than a help.
General Pros and Cons of Amazon Echo Speakers
To help break things down, here’s a quick summary in the form of a handy Pros and Cons list.
- Amazon Echo speakers allow you to play almost any media you can think of from the convenience of Alexa’s voice commands.
- Alexa “Skills” allow integration with countless other devices and services, giving you even more control over the technology in your home.
- Alexa can hear you from across the room thanks to Amazon Echo’s far-field voice recognition.
- Audio playback is very sensitive to connection issues and will skip or drop in the middle of a song if your Wi-Fi isn’t perfect.
- Alexa’s voice recognition isn’t perfect, and frequently misunderstands your commands.
- Alexa’s “Skills” do not always interact well and may cause unwanted behaviors.