Our Amazon Echos no doubt do a lot of awesome things. Sometimes, however, they don’t always work as they should. Error messages happen, and while sometimes they’re valid – sometimes they aren’t.
Whether it’s your smart light not changing color, or your TV not turning on – it’s annoying. You ask Alexa to do something, you expect it to be done. So what do you do if she doesn’t do it?
What is the Amazon Echo?
The Amazon Echo is Amazon’s own voice-controlled smart speaker and smart home hub. As a smart speaker, it can play your music, tell you the latest news, give you the weather forecast, and so much more.
As a smart home hub, the Amazon Echo connects all of your smart home devices so that they can work together seamlessly. Among the devices it connects are smart cameras, smart lights, smart TVs, and any other smart devices you may have in your home.
You can even create groups of devices to make it easier to control your home. You can create groups by room, such as ‘Living Room’ or ‘Bedroom’. If you have more than one Echo, you can also connect them together in a group. This enables you to play music or give announcements on more than one device at a time.
Echos typically use Wi-Fi to connect all of your devices together. Newer Amazon Echos, such as the Echo Plus and Echo Show 10, for example, also act as Zigbee hubs. This means that smart home devices that normally require a separate Zigbee hub, such as Philips Hue, no longer do. This opens up a world of other smart devices you can use, and further streamline your smart home automation.
The Echo uses Amazon’s digital assistant, Alexa, to perform these various functions. However, as great as she can be, problems still occur. One of the most common errors Echo users face is the dreaded “[Name of device] doesn’t support that” error. So why does this happen, and what can you do if it happens to you?
Fixing the ‘Device Doesn’t Support That’ Error
Most of us that have Amazon Echos have run into this error at least once. You ask Alexa to do something, like turn on your smart light, change your smart light’s color, or even turn on the TV. Then she responds with, “Sorry, [device] doesn’t support that”.
Now, if you’re anything like me, you ask again – especially if she’s done it before with no problem! About 60% of the time, asking again works. But what if it doesn’t?
Problem #1: Alexa Can’t Control Your Smart TV
One issue that you may run into is when asking Alexa to control your smart TV. She may say “TV doesn’t support that” – or just do nothing at all! This is frustrating, to say the least. So what gives?
The problem could be due to a number of causes. One, is device limitations. First off, you need to be trying to control a Fire TV. Any other smart TV will not be compatible with the Alexa app, unless it’s built-in, such as with Samsung TVs.
Second, only one Fire TV can be controlled per Echo. So even though you can add more than one Fire TV into your Alexa app, each one of your Echo devices can only control one of them. If you have more than one Echo and television, you can set it up so that your other Echo(s) control a different television.
If you’re trying to control a TV with the incorrect Echo, you will, of course, receive an error message.
Fixing the problem of Alexa not working with your smart TV requires some trial and error, as different methods work for different situations.
If this is the first time this has happened, check your settings. Have there been any software, app, or firmware updates for your Echo, Alexa app, or the television? Sometimes updates can solve common issues. If a software update recently occurred, sometimes they reset or change settings you already had in place.
Next, is your Echo linked to the right television? Or any television at all? To check this, you’ll need to go into your Alexa app. Go to “More”, then “Settings”, then “TV & Video”. On the next screen, choose “Fire TV”. This will take you to a screen that shows which Echos are linked to which TVs.
Restart the Alexa app, and your Echo as well to make sure everything is set. If everything works now, great! If not, you may need to reach out to Tech Support.
Problem #2: Smart Light Errors
Another issue you may run across is when asking Alexa to control your smart lights – whether they’re bulbs or light strips. Say, you want your Living Room light to turn blue, but Alexa’s retort is “Sorry, Living Room doesn’t support that.”
Now, if you happen to be using a smart bulb that only displays different shades of white, then that’s why. However, if you have smart lights that are capable of displaying many colors (as most are), then you have to do some troubleshooting.
First, go into your Alexa app’s settings. Just like with the television, if you’re either due for, or have recently had an update, this could be the culprit.
Also, check your Wi-Fi connection. At times, smart bulbs (like mine!) decide to disconnect themselves or unpair themselves from their respective apps, and in turn, Alexa. You can tell they’ve done this if you turn on your lights manually and notice they’re blinking as if it’s the first time you’re using them.
If this occurs, you’ll have to set them up again. Any routines involving these lights would then need to be updated. A hassle, yes, but it does happen.
Check your settings to make sure everything is set up the way you want. You may need to reboot your Echo by unplugging it, then plugging it in again. Force closing the Alexa app, as well as any app that the smart lights use (i.e. GoSund, Philips Hue, etc), can also help reset things.
Other Common Issues
At times, device errors occur because there’s a problem with the Skill that connects your smart device to Alexa. The Skills allow your smart devices to work with Alexa seamlessly. If a bug or malfunction occurs, this can cause a number of problems.
These Skills can have to do with smart lights, as well as smart cameras. The Ring Skill and Hue Alexa Skill are two of the most popular. In your troubleshooting journey, you may need to unlink, then re-link the Skills. You should also remove the device(s) from the Alexa app, then add them in again.
If the problem was with the Skill, then the next time you use your smart device with Alexa, you should be able to do so without an error message.
Another common issue is the naming of groups or devices. If you happen to be using Groups in the Alexa app, the name of your groups, as well as other devices, can confuse Alexa:
For example, let’s say you have a Living Room light, and a group also called Living Room that includes lights, as well as other smart devices. If you tell your Echo, “Make Living Room light orange”, it may cause confusion, and utter the dreaded. “Sorry, Living Room doesn’t support that” error.
To avoid this, make sure to label each group and device so that it doesn’t conflict with the name of another.
Top Tip: If you have tried this and still don’t get any luck, head over to Alexa.amazon.com on a web browser. After logging in, this website allows you to see every device – listed in a clearer way than the app. Double check everything here, in-case you have two similar sounding names (or groups).
Using Routines as Workarounds
If Alexa and your Echo are still giving you a hassle, an option you might try are Routines.
Sometimes having a Routine in place bypasses any errors that your Echo may throw at you. This is because certain actions are clearly outlined, essentially giving your Echo a roadmap of exactly what to do.
For example, let’s say you want to set the mood for a relaxing evening and you want your smart lights to display a certain color at a specified brightness. You would go into the Alexa app, and create a Routine that does just this. You’ll specify the command (i.e. “Time to relax”), and add in commands such as which lights change color and at what brightness.
If you’re having trouble with your smart TV, Routines work here too. You simply add the command (i.e. “Watch my show”), and add in commands such as opening Netflix.
Alternate Smart Home Hubs
Tired of the errors you get from your Amazon Echo? You might start to consider another smart home hub. Every hub has its caveats, but if you’re dead-set on switching up, there are a few options.
One option you might consider is Google Home. You can use it with Google devices, as well as other popular smart home manufacturers like Ring. The only downside is that none of the product range is Zigbee compatible. Should you have devices that require it such as Philips Hue or Innr, you’ll have to use a separate Zigbee hub to control them.
Another popular option is Samsung SmartThings. Unlike Google Home, SmartThings is compatible with Zigbee and Z-Wave. This makes it easier to use an even greater range of smart home devices. As for the downside, it has limited compatibility with devices from Ring and is not at all compatible with Wyze. The only way around that is to use IFTTT.
Some Apple users utilize Apple HomeKit as their smart home hub. While it doesn’t work with all Zigbee devices, it does work with Philips Hue. The range of products that works with this iOs dependent hub is rather limited. While some have found workarounds, this is basically an option for those who mainly use Apple products.
No More Errors
Saying that your device doesn’t support a function that it should is one of the frustrating issues that many Echo users face. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent, and even remedy this – in most cases. Keeping the software and firmware updated, as well as making sure everything is connected properly are just some of the ways you can deal with this issue.
Still not working? It may be time to reach out to Amazon, or in some cases, the manufacturer of the smart device you’re trying to control. Fortunately, this isn’t usually necessary.