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Voice Monkey News

Voice Monkey Temporarily Offline

Update 1st March 2021 – 8pm GMT

A tiny bit of progress. Today I had a phone call with the some of the developer facing team at Amazon.

They were great!

Unfortunately they weren’t able to give any real update, they were merely the messengers between me and their “internal” teams. They had technical questions about the Skill, what it does, how it works etc

I’m grateful that at least there was some communication and I now feel much better and more confident that the Skill might be back online one day soon.

Update 28th Feb 2021 – 8am GMT

I have not heard anything since the last contact from Amazon on the 25th. I tried requesting an update on Friday 29th but I didn’t hear anything back.

Update 25th Feb 2021 – 12pm GMT

Sorry, no major update. Amazon have once again messaged to say that rest assured, they are working on it and will do their best to keep me updated.

Update 24th Feb 2021 – 5pm GMT

Unfortunately no major update. I’ve had a message from Amazon today looking for information about some of the technical aspects of the skill so at least this means they’re still looking into it. Apologies for this frustrating and agonising wait!

Update 23rd Feb 2021 – 3pm GMT

Still no further information except a confirmation that they are looking into it and will get back to me as soon as possible ๐Ÿ™

Update 22nd Feb 2021 – 4pm GMT

Still no further details but I have now been informed by Amazon that the Skill is with the certification team so I am now waiting on feedback from them.

Update 22nd Feb 2021 – 10am GMT

Still no response from Amazon (I suppose it was the weekend).

It seems like the issue is related to the frequency with which someone was triggering their routines.

I’m still waiting to get clarification.

20th Feb 2021

Hi fellow Voice Monkey users.

Overnight, Amazon have pulled the Skill and it’s no longer available ๐Ÿ™

I am working with them to get this put right so we can all start enjoying Voice Monkey once again.

I’ll keep you updated on this post.

Wish me luck!

36 replies on “Voice Monkey Temporarily Offline”

Hi. If there’s anything we can do, like bombard Amazon with complaints, let us know.

Do you have any idea what they’re objecting to? It seems to me that everything your skill does uses approved APIs

Hi Mike,

Thanks, I will let you know if there’s anything you can do!

The information they’ve given is unclear and lacks any detail so I’ve gone back to them to request further information.
Yes, the Skill uses the Amazon Alexa smart home infrastructure and APIs….otherwise it wouldn’t have passed their strict certification process in the first place. I’ve checked their certification requirements documentation and I can’t see anything I’m doing wrong.

I just hope for the 100s of VM users that this gets fixed quick and that it’s not the case that Amazon just don’t like what this Skill does.

I’ll keep this page updated as soon as I know more!

Christian
Voice Monkey

Well they stopped your skill, I guess they can stop you from monetizing it but They can’t stop you from releasing the code and creating instruction videos for not so techy ones to setup their developer accounts and create unpublished private skills … Amazon sucks they just want their home assistant to be dumb and to listen and collect private information nothing more, nothing less.

Hi Benj,

I don’t share this particular view however I do think they could do a better job of communicating with me. This all started with a bad actor flooding their APIs with requests. Hopefully Amazon are just (understandably) protecting their systems and the updates I’ve made to mitigate this will be sufficient.

As I say, I just wish they could communicate a bit better and also speed up a bit!

I chatted with Amazon this morning and was told that the developer removed the skill and they didnโ€™t have any more information. Then I read your post and now Iโ€™m confused, it sounds like it was Amazon that pulled the skill

Yeah it was Amazon.
There’s no reason I would want to pull the Skill.

I doubt however that the customer service team are that well connected with the Alexa certification or policy team so the information they can provide is likely to be limited (I can’t verify that though).

I appreciate you contacting them though, the more people that do this, the quicker they might get back to me.

Thanks again!

I’m sure there are people that are visually challenged using this skill so they can receive audible dynamic announcements, ie who is at their front door. It seems it would be a safety issue for them not to have this skill.

Could it be something with the data that people are sending using VM. Like PII or to avoid law enforcement, etc.? Could Amazon be sniffing the data or you’re passing or storing it unencrypted?

Following this page for updates. I just started using VM last week and think itโ€™s an excellent tool! (Thank you, Christian.) I hope Amazon realizes their error in removing the Skill and sets things straight ASAP.

I thought this must have been a temporary fault with Alexa.
One of the only truly interactive skills Alexa has and they’ve taken it offline!
Fingers crossed it’s all sorted out soon

“It seems like the issue is related to the frequency with which someone was triggering their routines.”

If that’s the case, you should be able to observe on the server side which user was hitting the API on your end too quickly. You might need to rate-limit API calls for each customer to prevent a runaway process that’s calling the API from swamping Amazon

Done and in production.

Perhaps I should have included this from the start, the only reason I didn’t is that there is no documentation suggesting any kind of limits.
The only limits I’ve seen are for the notifications feature (not announcements) whereby you can make 5 request in 5 minutes, and this throttling was already in use.

I need to wait to see exactly what the issue was as their initial email seemed to be an automated one and lacking detail.

So if I were to set up a scenario where I used voicemonkey to make my Alexa Dot make a ding sound every 60 seconds if one my doors is left open, then that would be a problem? (perhaps not a problem if i set it to ding every 61 seconds?)

Hi Kyle,

There will probably be some throttling but until Amazon respond I don’t know exactly what that will be. I’m hoping though that it will be more calls than one per minute!

I’ll let you all know once I know more.

Hi Sachin….when I first published the Skill I did add it to the India/English locale (but not India/Hindi).

For some reason, I’ve heard feedback that users in India can’t find the Skill in the Indian Skill Store….I’ve checked and they are right.

I’m not sure why.

Hopefully with this re-release it will be added, otherwise I will have to contact Amazon to see why not.

I don’t see VM in the skills list on my account or in the store.

However, what may be happening is you can still hit the VM URL, and that seems to open the corresponding Routine. So if you didn’t try to have the monkey announce something, the routine will still run (even without VM as an installed skill, apparently).

It seems like the voice monkey urls are working intermittently. Up until today all of the monkeys that arenโ€™t announcements have been working when I hit the url but now theyโ€™ve stopped.

itโ€™s Amazon thatโ€™s causing the problems, hitting the url has been spotty ever since Amazon removed the skill, weโ€™re all just patiently waiting on Amazon to put the damn thing back online ๐Ÿคž๐Ÿผ๐Ÿคž๐Ÿผ๐Ÿคž๐Ÿผ๐Ÿคž๐Ÿผ๐Ÿคž๐Ÿผ๐Ÿคž๐Ÿผ๐Ÿคž๐Ÿผ

Thanks for the updates Francis and Glen.
Since the Skill is part of my developer account, it works fine, so it’s useful to know what is happening for others, thanks.

I have successfully setup virtual switches in smartthings to do what voice monkey was doing, temporarily until voice monkey comes back. The only thing I can’t get to work is alexa speaking variables from smartthings. My goodnight routine has alexa speak which lights and contact sensors that may be on or open and it uses variables in webcore. Does anyone else know a way to get alexa to speak, since echo speaks is gone and now voice monkey is down, hopefully only temporarily.

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