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I was recently asked if Alexa can ever speak without prompting, so I thought it'd be helpful to ask here to make sure I'm right; as far as I know, Alexa will never, ever speak without the wake word, and the only unprompted sound it will make is the alarm sound.

This TechCrunch article seems to agree that there isn't any way to make Alexa speak unprompted, but it doesn't mention Alexa skills at all; is there perhaps some API available to them which isn't yet used?

Many people seem to be interested in this so that they can get Alexa to say certain phrases, such as perhaps an alert if the doorbell is ringing, or some way of indicating an event has happened.

Can Alexa speak without first being prompted by either the wake word, tap-to-talk or push-to-talk (depending on the device)? I'm excluding alarms for the purpose of this question, but solutions using custom skills are fine.

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    I have an Alexa that chirps now and again when it hears noises from the TV. So it depends on what "unprompted" means! – Joel M Ward Jan 26 '17 at 22:54
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Yes, when Alexa loses power, upon recovery it will play a short melodic glissando followed by saying

"Hello."

This is entirely unprompted and often scares the snot out of me as jump to see who's in the house.

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    As well as the message when the echo looses connection! – Nate D Jan 26 '17 at 21:02
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  • That's not Alexa talking, but rather the Echo playing sounds and saying things locally. If you look into the 3rd party/DIY implementations, you'll find there are media files required for this. – Chris Stratton Sep 21 '17 at 5:46
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It appears that as things stand, it cannot. I have a few quotations here, the first from the TechCrunch article you referenced:

Currently, Echo only speaks when spoken to; a user has to use the activation word “Alexa” to prompt it to begin listening for a command or request, and then it’ll respond to said input with its own vocal response. Alexa hasn’t supported the ability to provide any kind of audio notice unprompted as a result of data it receives from a user’s connected services – the closest it comes is being able to sound an alert based on an alarm or timer.

A second citation comes from Consumerist:

As it stands right now, Amazon Echo is the well-behaved child your grandparents might have approved of: it doesn’t speak until spoken to. But soon Alexa could be piping up to offer information without being prompted first.

As for creating a skill that would allow Alexa to speak without a trigger, Amazon documentation seems to indicate that an essential part of setting up a skill is implementing an audio trigger.

So as far as I can see, the answer is no.

3

With the new Alexa calling feature, Alexa will now play a melody and speak when it receives a call. It generally goes like this:

*melody*

[Person] would like to talk.

*melody*

It's [person].

*melody*

Here's a video I found demonstrating this. A similar thing happens on receiving a voice or text message, but the melody only occurs once instead of multiple times.

The alerts sound on every device connected to the same Wi-Fi network, according to this article.


In addition, Alexa now supports push notifications, and will speak to alert you of these.

2

As time has passed on, I think the answer to this question now needs to be:

Yes, Alexa can speak without being prompted. Specifically, she can utter anything you want her to!

The convenient tool you can use is a shell script named alexa-remote-control. A detailed documentation of the script is available in this blogpost, although only in German.

It relies on http POST requests to achieve things like playing music, radio, activating the daily briefing and letting your Echo devices speak any text you want them to.

The text-to-speech feature can be used in Linux, e.g., by executing this command in a terminal:

alexa_remote_control.sh -d "Your Echo's name" -e speak:'Welcome back buddy!'

I use it frequently within Node-Red running on a Raspberry Pi, e.g. to issue warnings once some sensor reading moves outside its normal range.

protected by Community Sep 28 '17 at 17:54

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