‘Alexa, are you OK?’ Amazon’s smart assistant crashes on Christmas

“Alexa, why aren’t you working properly?” That was the question — or variations thereof — uttered by a number of folks across Europe on Christmas Day as they tried to use Amazon’s digital assistant.

Amazon later confirmed that the technology powering Alexa had suffered a glitch for “a short period” of time, but declined to go into detail about the hiccup. “For a short period yesterday morning, we had an issue that intermittently impacted some Alexa customers’ ability to interact with the service,” the company said, adding: “The Alexa service is now operating normally.”

During the outage, the best Alexa could do in response to people’s voice commands was: “Sorry, I’m having trouble understanding right now.”

U.K.-based Dan Green captured Alexa’s response and posted it on Twitter:

In his tweet, Green quipped that with so many Alexa-powered devices going online at once during the holiday season, “you’d have thought the geek squad would have been prepared.” Indeed, the likelihood is that Amazon servers dedicated to Alexa simply couldn’t handle the sudden uptick in engagement as lots of customers unwrapped an Alexa-powered Echo speaker and set it up for the first time. Amazon confirmed on Wednesday, December 26 that the diminutive Echo Dot was one of its best-selling items during the holiday season.

The downtime apparently began at around 10 a.m., leaving some users frustrated as they asked Alexa to perform a bunch of actions that included everything from “tell me how to make an eggnog” to “play Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas Is You.” According to Amazon, that was the most requested track during the holiday season. Amazon’s smart speaker, and others like it, also lets you make calls, listen to audiobooks, and control smart home devices, among other things.

It’s not the first time that Alexa has given users the cold shoulder. In September 2018, Amazon’s digital assistant fell silent across Europe for a short while. It was noted at the time that the company had been experiencing issues with its Amazon Web Services center in Ireland, which may have played a part in the downtime.

Another outage occurred a month later when the service went down temporarily for a number of users around the world.

Hopefully Alexa is now working properly, fulfilling requests for one and all. For some great tips on how to get the best out of Alexa, take a moment to check out Digital Trends’ handy guide.


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