The Amazon Echo Button Tease

As with so many things ‘Alexa’ the Amazon Echo Buttons, at a mere $14 for two, are tantalizing close to greatness.

Initially introduced as a gaming accessory (meh), the Alexa platform was updated a few weeks ago to allow the buttons to trigger smart home routines. Awesome! Or so I thought. It turns out the initial implementation is merely a tease. In fact, the two rather simple scenarios I had envisioned are mostly out of reach.

I had hoped to link one of my two newly acquired Echo Buttons to an Amazon smart outlet so my daughter could easily turn on her playroom light. However, that’s exactly all it can do… as, without a toggle function, we’d need a second button to turn the light off. So she’s back to using her stool. At night, I was hoping to augment an existing bedtime routine (“Alexa, good night”) that performs a number of actions, including lowering my daughter’s Hue lighting and playing Disney Classic Lullabies. Yet, it turns out routines can only have a single trigger – so, in this case, it’s button or voice.

Beyond the missing toggles and dual assignment of triggers, future Echo Button enhancements I really, really hope the Alexa team considers are customization of button lighting and additional double tap or long press triggers to become a multifunction device. Also, improved reliability…

10 thoughts on “The Amazon Echo Button Tease”

  1. Wow, just recently purchased two, but have not yet set them up. Guess I will await a suitably useful implementation before doing so.

  2. William, If you just want to initiate a routine, they’re cheap and easy! It’s only at power user level that you end up sad. :) Reliability has been much better since that first night of testing. However, my daughter does tend to trigger errors when she continually mashes the button – ease up kid!

    DailyPlanet, Hm hadn’t contemplated linking it up to another service in that way – worth looking into.

  3. That’s a bummer! I just ordered myself yesterday. Was hoping hoping to use them to turn our bedroom lights on AND off.

    Oh well, I guess I can still use them to turn off all the lights – which my wife never does.

  4. Hm, maybe the new wait feature can be of some use – like what if daughter turns on her playroom light, wait 15 mins, and then turn it back off? She usually only goes in to look for toys… which she drags out to the family room.

    https://zatznotfunny.com/2018-12/amazon-alexa-grows-up/

    Also EVERYTHING off is a great idea Tom. Like when I’m heading downstairs, turn off all upstairs lights in all rooms and music streaming. Will have to see what options I have for killing music that may or may not be playing. Used to do something similar with a Lutron switch and Staples Connect.

  5. I would really like a toggle effect as well. As for multiple triggers: it’s not terribly elegant, but it was easy enough to set up the same routine a second time, just for the button as opposed to the voice command.

    I wonder if it would be possible for them to trigger an effect through haaska or something so that Home Assistant could handle the toggle….

  6. I got it working to toggle lights with SmartThings. I created a virtual switch in SmartThings and the echo button routine turns this switch on. On the SmartThings side, when the virtual switch is turned on it toggles the lights and turns the virtual switch off. I’m using the SmartRules iOS app for that, but it could be done with WebCore and might be possible with just SmartThings SmartApps (I didn’t try).

  7. I’m hoping to excise SmartThings. And most probably don’t have. When you need hubs to control your hubs… :)

  8. Looks like Amazon junior programmers designed/coded the routines for buttons.

    They modeled the lack of “state” or “toggle” functionality with the famous shower valve that only turns on – not off – so you enter the shower and stay forever.

    Hope they have a new release soon.

  9. “Yet, it turns out routines can only have a single trigger – so, in this case, it’s button or voice.”

    Couldn’t you create a duplicate routine? So that one copy of it is triggered by button, and the other by voice?

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