Simple Control Alexa Smart Home Skill Now Available


#1

While not officially listed in the Alexa Smart Home Store yet, the new Simple Control Alexa Smart Home Skill is now live!

To add the new skill to your account, use the Contact Support button to contact support for the special beta instructions.

Simple Hub 4.5.8+ is required, and you should already have the existing Simple Control Alexa skill working before adding this new skill.

Use the instructions from support to add the skill to your account. You should then discover devices to see what can be controlled. This skill allows skipping the “tell Simple Control” prefix used by the Custom Skill. As both skills present unique and separate functionality, we recommend linking both. Examples:

    * Alexa, turn on the Living Room. (launch first activity with an opening device in the Living Room)
    * Alexa, turn on Office DISH. (open “Watch DISH” in the Office)
    * Alexa, turn on Living Room TiVo. (open “Watch TiVo” in the Living Room)
    * Alexa, set the Bedroom Receiver to 25%. (set volume to -55.5 for Denon Receiver in the Bedroom)
    * Alexa, set Kitchen Sonos to 60. (set volume to 60 for Sonos device in the Kitchen)
    * Alexa, turn off the Bedroom. (run the first Power Off activity in the Bedroom)
    * Alexa, turn off the Office DISH. (run the first Power Off activity in the Office)
    * Alexa, turn off the Office DISH 1. (send a POWER OFF command to the DISH device in the room Office — see the Alexa app for actual naming)

Thank you.


#2

Out of curiosity as you mention both skills present unique functionality, i am just curious what is lost with the new skill? In general terms.


#3

If you were to use only the new skill, you would lose some of the more detailed functionality from the old skill. Examples that aren’t replicable in the Smart Home skill:

tune ABC in the Office
set the volume to -45.5 db
skip 6 times
mute the Guest Room
turn up
play
pause
go to the next chapter

These are just examples. Smart Home Skills do not really have a syntax. They just have “turn on”, “turn off”, “set XX to Y%”. They’re not capable of the intricate control of custom skills. We have made volume work with all devices on a percentage basis with the Smart Home Skill, so you can say things like “set the Denon Receiver to 50%” and that will be converted to the appropriate decimal volume that is 50% between -80.0db and +18.0db, but you can’t use the direct volumes like in the custom skill. Also, the many different play/pause/next/previous and chapter control from the custom skill can’t be replicated. Finally, all of the custom channel commands for ABC, channel number 456, Food TV, and many others require the custom skill.

So I think the best of both worlds at this point is just link both skills. For all the basics, use the Smart Home Skill because it presents Activity Names in a more straightforward way. Anything on/off is much better. Then for channels, volumes, and specific commands like pause, use the custom skill syntax.

Thank you.


#4

Testing new skill. Surprised by number of devices Alexa discovered! Works well as you stated in that simpl on/off activities work best in this beta skill.
If I may, I’d like to see the option to select activities for Alexa to discover. I really like having the ability to set lighting scenes in my Hue lights with the simpler syntax.


#5

Hello!

will the SkillAdapter for Home Skills work with German language?
Is the custom skill a prerequisite?

The reason I’m asking is because the custom SimpleControl skill is not available for Germany.
I don’t necessarily Need the custom skill and the standard intents supported by the Home Skill would suffice for me.

So would this be an Option?

Thanks
Alexander


#6

After the Smart Home skill has its official publish in the US (visible in the Alexa app and no longer requiring the special link support is sending out), we’ll be looking into activating both skills in additional countries.

Thank you.


#7

Enhancement request - In Simple Control provide a toggle to selectively hide rooms and/or activities and/or devices from Amazon device discovery.

I have existing Amazon SmartHome scenes and devices and avoiding both room and name collisions with Simple Control is requiring renaming to obscure names which is not solving the problem.


#8

I’m pleased to announce the Alexa Smart Home Skill is now a production skill and listed in the Alexa app! There is no longer any need to contact support for a special link to add the skill. We maintain a knowledge base article on this skill here:

simplecontrol.com/knowledge … smarthome/

The skill description inside the Alexa app also contains important information.

Thank you.


#9

Any rough timescale on when this will be available in the UK?


#10

As above would really like to know when this will be enabled in the UK Alexa store.

Love Simple Control and this would finally make voice control simple!


#11

Amazon has now launched Alexa in India. Could you enable the skill for India and if so, any indication of the timeframe?


#12

There are a number of new countries to enable. We’re starting to work through them now. Canada is in review for the Custom Skill. Assuming that goes well, Smart Home for Canada and UK will be next. That will complete the available English speaking countries. We then could add India and Germany, but those would involve actual localization whereas say Canada involves no localization. My guess is we could investigate those countries in Q1, but no estimate on completion yet.


#13

Hi Will,

if you could use any help in German localization I’m happy to help! (German native speaker).

Cheers
Alexander


#14

At last the Alexa Custom Skill was just approved, so that is now available in Canada for the first time, as well as the US and UK.

Next up is adding new countries to the Smart Home skill which currently is US only. The review process for that type of skill is very significantly more involved though, so I would not be surprised if it takes a while.


#15

For instance in Sweden, Amazon has released the English version of Alexa. I believe it is due to Sonos built in Alexa. Is it not better to release the English version in all countries to begin with? Otherwise we in Sweden needs to fake an Brittish address set up a Brittish Apple ID and download skills from England. And then have phones and iPads with double Apple ID. Furthermore there are plenty of native English speaking in all countries. Thanks in advance. /Harry


#17

Is there any update on when the Alexa Smart Home skill will be available in the UK or anywhere else outside the US?


#18

Shortly after my last update in this thread, Amazon blocked all updates to SmartHome Skills that had not been completely re-written to a totally new API they had just introduced at the time. Not even a small update can be released. Nothing. Without a complete rewrite.

While that rewrite won’t take that long, it just is not a priority at the moment as we’re on critical path improvements. Given how well the new Siri support introduced last month in 5.6 is taking hold, I am evaluating now how much effort we want to spend on Alexa versus Siri in the future. Siri supports all countries and languages, Alexa supports just a few. Siri does not require a Hub. Alexa does. Siri does not require any centralized login or cloud relay, Alexa does. Siri can be in your pocket, Alexa more or less needs to be installed in each room. I am trying to move away from hubs, accounts, and logins. I want privacy, security, and simplification to be core themes of V6. Alexa holds every aspect of that back.

Today we support both Alexa and Siri. Most likely, we’ll rev the Alexa skill to the new API in 2019 and then as part of that add support for any additional English speaking countries available at that time. Given that our Siri support will become even better and likely support voice parameters in 2019, what at that point will be the remaining reason to provide Alexa support – beyond the fact that in a few countries users currently have Alexa speakers around their home already? OTOH, users also have iOS devices in their pockets and around their house so is there really any relevant difference there? I would prefer not to spend double the resources on two voice control platforms long term if one of them is clearly better for our user base. Right now, from my vantage point it looks like Siri has taken the lead. Anyway, before we dive into the (seemingly superfluous and pedantic) rewrite of the Alexa Smart Home Skill, I’ll make a final evaluation next year as to whether it’s really needed. Continuing feedback as to Siri success/failure versus Alexa will be helpful over the next few months.


#19

Alexa is working fine here in Texas, USA. We now have Echos in required rooms (because it works, and works with Simple Control).

Glad to hear Siri is getting better, but please don’t kill-off Alexa … we love her.


#20

Personally, I think Alexa support is pretty important.


#21

That’s not the question I’m posing. Also we know the difference between “important” and the actual number of users using it down to the exact number of invocations per hour based on Amazon’s analytics. So the question of relative importance in the case of Alexa for us is one of the most well defined quantities we know.

Rather, the question is more, in Fall 2019, when Apple’s Siri Custom Intents have had a year to grow, and users have genuinely tried them, what does the landscape look like then? I would bet 95%+ today saying they like Alexa are simply saying that because they use it today like I do because until less then 60 days ago it was the only option. So what I’d like to gather going forward is, for people who have used both sufficiently for at least say a few weeks, what will you use going forward, both, Alexa, or Siri and why exactly?