Answered: Discussion Open

Can ActionTiles activate an Alexa Routine?

andysims 3 years ago in Things & Capabilities updated by Voice Monkey 10 months ago 12

I have several Amazon Echo Routines which I use to play music in my backyard. For Instance, I say "Alexa, Smooth Jazz" and the Amazon Echo connected to my backyard sound system begins playing my smooth jazz station on Pandora. How do I create an Actiontiles tile that will start this routine? Is this possible? I can find instructions for activating a SmartThing routine with Amazon Alexa but I can't find anything that shows how to activate an Echo (Alexa) routine with SmartThings or Actiontiles.

Answered: Discussion Open

We are not aware of any method by which SmartThings can trigger an Alexa Routine. Per the Alexa App, currently a Routine can only be triggered by a Voice Phrase or a Schedule.

This Topic is being discussed in the SmartThings Community and is worth following (and searching) for relevant related info:  https://community.smartthings.com/t/faq-can-i-trigger-an-echo-action-without-speaking-to-it/117918?u=tgauchat

Amazon may, now or in the future, offer API calls to trigger Routines (or perhaps via a third-party integration like IFTTT), but ActionTiles is not exploring any direct API calls outside of SmartThings at this time.

this has been very confusing, at least for me. I need to know how i can control my Alexa and all of its devices via actiontiles. There are tons of articles out there, but nothing helpful. i want to be able to have buttons for all of my Alexa devices and control them via actiontiles.

The echo speaks smart app for smart things can execute any alexa routine or command (volume up, down, do-not-disturb, etc).  You can create a v-switch in smart things to trigger the echo speaks action, which executes the alexa routine.

I have three tiles on my panel that are labeled "Classic Rock","Easy Listening" and "Smooth Jazz"

When I tap one of them, it turns a smart things v-switch by the same name on, which triggers an echo speaks action to tell alexa "play smooth jazz", or "play classic rock" on any/all echo devices that action has checked.  Each echo speaks music action also turns off the other music v-switches when it turns one on, using the also trigger function in echo speaks.  I also added a tile called "stop music" that turns off all of the music v-switches, so "stop music" is sent to alexa.  Doing it this way, with multiple "music on" actions allows the tiles to display the on/off state of the v-switch with different icons, so you can see that one is on (accent, glow, nudge, etc).

It is well worth the time to do the echo speaks smart app install if you have both echo device(s) and smart things, and even more useful if you want to use Actiontiles to initiate routines, etc.

I also used this combination to make "STFU" tiles for each echo, which lets me toggle "do not disturb" off/on for a particular echo from the panel.  Very handy if the wife is napping on the couch and I don't want alexa to say "the garage door is open" when I slip out for beer ;)

The full installation documentation for echo speaks smart app is here:


my main goal is to control my Lutron switches via Actiontiles (all the switches are being control via echo already). is that possible, and how is it executed? Any help is greatly appreciated! I have both Samsung hub and Actiontiles too.

The short answer is yes, you can execute any existing alexa/echo routine from Smartthings.

But,  first you have to add a smart app to Smartthings by following (exactly) the documentation I linked in my post above.

If you are familiar with adding device handlers to Smartthings via the groovy IDE, it follows the same basic process of copy code from source site and paste into IDE.

If you've never installed a new device handler through the groovy IDE, you'll want to be extra vigilant about following the installation docs precisely.

You'll also want to add the "Virtual Device Creator" smart app, which is done from within the Smartthings app, by tapping smart apps, then +, then selecting Virtual Device Creator and adding it to your smart app library.

Once you have the Echo Speaks smart app and actions installed into Smartthings, you just sync yourdevices like any other smart app, and start playing with the possibilities in Epcho Speaks.

Great tips! i have successfully installed Echo Speaks and all other underlying requirements (followed all the steps successfully). I've also added Virtual Device Creator. Now, for example if i need to add a light switch from my Alexa to Smartthings, and eventually manage it from Actiontiles, how is it done (are there any documentation available)?

I don't know of a good documentation location, but there are several threads focused on Echo Speaks in the Smartthings community forum.

I have to ask you this, before you start building EchoSpeaks actions though:

If you have Smartthings, and you have Actiontiles, and you have Lutron smart switches/dimmers, have you also added the dimmers to Smartthings already?  I assume that is how you got Alexa to find them so you could build Alexa routines?

If you have the Lutron switches in Smartthings as devices, why can't you just add scenes in Smartthings for each dimmer setting you want (or combinations of settings), and then trigger those scenes from Actiontiles to do what you want?  All you have to do is to use the smart things classic app to make a routine that runs that scene, and Actiontiles can then see that routine to use in a tile.  I have a number of scenes that operate dimmer switches that have a matching routine to make the link that Actiontiles can access.  Until Actiontiles can "see" scenes in Smartthings, this is the workaround.

It is the things that you can't directly do with Alexa from Smartthings that EchoSpeaks enables, such as speaking words when an action has happened such as a door opening, or a motion detected, or for playing music from Alexa.  You could use it to indirectly go from Smartthings v-switch to Echo Speaks to Alexa routine, to run an Alexa  lighting scene, but it is also cleaner and easier to do it right in Smartthings and then trigger it from Actiontiles, and it'll work even if Alexa croaks.

my issue is how to make the switch in smartthings control a switch in alexa without speaking an action, and eventually add that thing to actiontiles, hope that make sense? 

I like the idea that you mentioned to do it directly from smartthings and trigger it from actiontiles, that is exactly my goal. 

So you are saying, 

1. add a v-switch or v-dimmer in smartthings

2. sync smartthings with alexa to see the v-switch or v-dimmer

3. create a routine for particular v-switch or v-dimmer in alexa

i kind of tried this, but v-switch doesn't come up as a device under alexa routines.

No, that is not the easiest way to do it.

First things first, are your Lutron dimmers already joined into your Smartthings hub?

the whole caveat started since Lutron is not compatible with Smartthings (as far as i know, and Lutron says it too). However it is compatible with Alexa, so I was trying to find a way to trigger my switches/dimmers on Alexa via Smarttings, and that is why i am going trough this. 

Ok, that clarifies why you need to go this way.

Start by making a list of every command you use to ask Alexa to activate/dim/brighten/turn off each dimmer or group of dimmers.  If these are all saved in Alexa app as routines, just make a list of every routine by name.

Each of these will end up getting a v-switch (or maybe a v-button?) and at least one Echo Speaks action that calls the Alexa routine.

Make two more columns for the list, one for the v-switch name and one for the Echo Speaks Action.  This will make keeping track of things easier while building all the pieces.

At that point we need an easier way to send communications, as doing this back and forth in a forum is cumbersome.


Just to let you know you can use Voice Monkey to trigger routines or make text to speech announcements using an API url.