Amazon’s Echo smart speakers were facing connectivity issues in the U.K. and elsewhere in Europe earlier on Wednesday (Sept. 26), but are now up and running again.
Reuters, citing outage tracker Downdetector.com, reported the website had logged hundreds of reports about problems with the Echo speakers that power Alexa, Amazon’s voice-activated digital assistant. The report noted the complaints of Alexa not working starting happening at around 8:00 a.m. U.K. time.
“This morning, we had an issue that impacted some Alexa customers’ ability to interact with the service. The Alexa service is now operating normally,” Amazon said in a statement to Reuters.
This isn’t the first time there have been problems with Alexa connectivity. In March, a regional outage that affected Amazon Web Services (AWS) caused the voice assistant to go temporarily silent. The irony was not lost on the media, which was quick to point out that Amazon had just run a Super Bowl ad in which Alexa lost her voice. Who would have guessed America’s eCommerce giant was prophetic? Alexa responded to Echo and Echo Dot users with error messages such as, “Sorry, something went wrong,” whenever they asked her to complete a task — even one that would not seem to require internet connectivity, like turning on the lights.
The outages were not universal: It seems many, if not most, U.S. customers were shown the red ring of sadness when trying to interact with their home speakers on Friday, but those talking to Alexa north of the Canadian border had better luck. Some customers were also able to find workarounds using the Alexa app on their smartphones — though, at that point, it probably would have been easier to just get up and turn on the lights themselves.
Despite snafus, Alexa-powered devices are still widely popular. Earlier this month, Amazon announced that Alexa now works with 20,000 devices — a fivefold increase in just eight months. “Just this year, Alexa has sung ‘Happy Birthday’ millions of times to customers, and she’s told over 100 million jokes,” said executive Daniel Rausch at Berlin’s IFA tech show this past weekend, according to CNET. Rausch, Amazon’s vice president of smart home, explained that at the beginning of 2018, Alexa worked with just over 4,000 devices. The number of brands using Alexa also increased from 1,200 to over 3,500 during the same eight-month period. Some of the devices Alexa now works with include the Huawei AI Cube smart speaker, Asus ZenBook laptops and Yale’s Sync Smart Home Alarm.