Logitech has announced that their Alexa Smart Home Skill, which allows control of their Harmony remotes and hubs, now supports more natural language commands using the new entertainment control capabilities that were just made available to developers by Amazon. These updates now remove the need to have two different Alexa skills for Harmony devices and make controlling devices much more intuitive.
When Logitech first released an Alexa skill, they were constrained by the limited options available at the time. This made it necessary to say “Alexa, ask Harmony…” before every command. Later, when Amazon introduced specialty smart home Alexa skills, Logitech released a second Alexa skill that made it possible to more naturally turn devices on and off by saying “Alexa, turn off the TV.”
The problem was that smart home Alexa skills could only control the power state of a device, so Logitech needed to maintain both skills simultaneously. The first skill contained all the available capabilities, but the second skill, which did not require saying “ask Harmony” before every command, allowed for more natural language control of certain commands.
Amazon has now expanded the options available to developers of smart home Alexa skills, so it’s now possible to control more than just the power state of a device without having to say “Alexa, ask [skill name]…” before every command. Logitech has updated their Harmony smart home skill, so it’s now possible to use all of the following commands:
- Alexa, turn on/off the TV.
- Alexa, turn on/off [A/V equipment].
- Alexa, turn on/off [activity].
- Alexa, pause/play/stop/resume/rewind/fast forward my TV.
- Alexa, change channel to 29.
- Alexa, increase/decrease/turn up/turn down/mute the volume.
Very minimal commands, like “Alexa, pause,” can also be used to control Harmony devices, but you must have first used Alexa to turn on the device. So if you say “Alexa, turn on the TV” then you can later say “Alexa, turn up the volume” and your Alexa device will know you are referring to the TV and not the Alexa device’s own volume. If you want, you can always add “…on my TV.” to ensure the Alexa device knows the command you just gave should be executed through Harmony.