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Rand M avatar image
Rand M asked

Multiple Profiles on Echo Issues

This issue came to our attention yesterday by a very smart exec who could not get a skill to work. It's easy to replicate and we're guessing it is not uncommon... It possibly explains some negative reviews... If there are multiple profiles configured via the Alexa App (i.e. by adding someone to "Household Profile"), only the active profile is obeyed by Echo, which makes sense. The problem is that the inactive profile can still enable/disable skills - which Echo will ignore if they're not the same as the enabled/disabled skills in the active profile - and the inactive profile user gets no feedback. Unfortunately, this scenario appears to be showing up in skill reviews ("This skill doesn't work at all") and most likely in the Echo device reviews (I haven't checked this). It seems that people initially set up Echo on one profile, then add another profile and forget about it. Then sometime later, the inactive profile user wants to enable and use skills that do not work because they are disabled in the active profile. It would be nice for the non-active profile user to get some feedback either when enabling/disabling skills or when invoking an enabled skill that is disabled in the active profile. My guess is that the Alexa app has no knowledge of which profile is active, only the Echo device knows this - but perhaps the Echo device could say something like, "I'm sorry, that skill is not enabled in the active profile." Or the Alexa App could carry this info as well and provide feedback to the inactive profile user when he/she enables or disables a skill. Thanks, Rand
alexa skills kit
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jjaquinta avatar image
jjaquinta answered
If the "This skill doesn't work at all" is a review from me, it's because it doesn't work at all. I don't use profiles. There was one skill I reviewed that utterly failed out of the box. (The Bible one?)
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Stefan Negritoiu avatar image
Stefan Negritoiu answered
Unfortunately, there are cases where users perceive a skill as broken and it has nothing to do with the developer. In fact it's completely outside the developer's span of control and the developer isn't even aware users are having this problem. In order for the skill to be launched the utterance must be simultanously matched against: - one of the launch words/verbs - the skill launch name - an intent defined in the skill's schema If one of those 3 utterance components isn't correctly recognized Alexa does one of two things: (1) tells the user she doesn't understand or (2) redirects the utterance to one of the built-in "skills". Either way the user perceives the skill as broken because in their mind they said exactly what the skill's help/instructions told them to say and the developer never finds out this problem exists because the request never reaches the skill.
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Steve A avatar image
Steve A answered
I think this is actually an area of the user experience that Amazon could helpfully work on. As others have noted, lots of 1 star reviews are cases where it seems the user cannot even launch the skill which, as Stefan said, is out of the developer's hands. I suggested at one point -- again, echoing others on the forum -- that there should be some sort of user support at the invocation step. Amazon tries to lay down some minimal expectations for the skill functionality once the skill is invoked. I think it would really improve user experience if they also did that at the earlier step. Perhaps they could do some fuzzy matching, so if a user says, "Launch Dog Prices" (whatever that skill would be....), it could respond with "Did you mean to launch Dog Pricer? Try saying launch dog pricer..." Maybe some checking for whether the user is in the correct profile/has enabled the skill could be helpful, too. "You haven't enabled the Dog Pricer skill. Go to the Alexa app..." One thing I've learned is that providing a detailed skill description is just as important as the functionality of the skill for the user to have a positive experience. I know that some are frustrated with the certification process on this board. But one area where I think Amazon could actually step up cert requirements -- or recommendations -- might be in the area of the skill description. Just my two cents (which still might be overpriced...)
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Rand M avatar image
Rand M answered
Great points, everyone, and the only way Amazon would be aware of these scenarios is if they were reading skill reviews (I suspect they would also show up in device reviews)... Of course this scenario (of the user not being able to invoke the skill) would be exacerbated by someone with an accent, someone who gets the skill name/invocation command slightly wrong, etc. Come to think of it, maybe this supports testing (devs and Amazon?) using people with accents, children, etc. I like Steve's idea of Echo helping the user out with matching the skill name (not trivial, but the Amazon folks are pretty smart ;). Rand
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Rand M avatar image
Rand M answered
These scenarios are also a case for developers to be able to "report" reviews to Amazon for removal, or at least respond to those reviews.
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boborr7 avatar image
boborr7 answered

I discovered a Multiple Profile issue and resolution. Essentially Amazon Profiles are devices specific. Smart home device Conflicts will arize if the devices are registered on more then one Amazon Profile.

Steps to duplicate:

  1. If you download the App to your mobile device (Apple), create of login to an Amazon account, add the device to your Wifi Network, enable the Skill that device is registered to that profile on that account that allows you to add Smarthome devices like (WeMo), your Alexa device will function properly
  2. If you delete the Alexa app on your mobile device, or Logout of the Alexa app
  3. Log in or create ANOTHER profile on the Alexa mobile, enable the Skill for that SmartHome Device.
  4. On the Alexa app, if you try to "add device" under the Smarthome tab it will say "Discovery Failed". You will not be able to "add device" when that error is displayed.

In order to solve this conflict you have 2 options;

  1. Within the Alexa App, log out of the second profile that was used and log in to the initial profile and then "Add device, that Smarthome device will now be discoverable.
  2. Log into the second Amazon profile under "Manage Your Content and Devices" and then "unregister" your Alexa device you were having trouble with. I have not tried this but I believe this will eliminate a future conflict, if you use this account again.

I see why Alexa cannot support multiple profiles. Duplication or any profile data will cause a conflict. For example, if one mobile number is registered to an account it cannot be used to set up calls on another Alexa device.

I searched for "discovery failed" issues and resolutions and never found a reference to profile conflicts. Perhaps the Alexa developers can validate my observations and proposed resolution. I almost returned my Alexa device and smarthome devices because of this issue. I cant be the only one that has come accross this issue. Maybe the answer is published but I couldn't find it. I suggest that in the next code release for your API you provide a better error message that gives more information about the issue or if just add a number if there are multiple error codes so someone call look up the error code.

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