I guess you could say I am like a lot of people out there: I love new technology and gadgets. If it has buttons and knobs I am sure to stop what I am doing to give it a try. Amazon Alexa might not have a lot of buttons to fidget with, but the idea of building a smart home and possibly being able to control all the electronic devices in my apartment with just my voice was way to tempting to not try.
That's why I bought an Amazon Alexa and a few Echo Dots a couple years ago. It's been a love hate relationship with my Amazon devices. Just recently me and my boyfriend decided to kick our third wheel roommate out of the house for good. Here are six reasons why I threw my Alexa devices in the trash.
The number one reason I decided to kick Alexa out of my house is the glitches. I'll talk more about some of those in a minute, but lets just say the device has some problems. I could live with some growing pains if the technology was new, but Amazon has had their smart home devices on the market for years. I think most people would be understanding if Amazon was working to fix the problems, but...
There is No Support
Despite the issues with Amazon's technology, there is virtually no support for the device. That leaves the user to just wait for Amazon to create a fix - and so far they haven't come up with a solution for any of the issues I have had with my device. Instead, they just flood the market with more and more devices without actually making sure that any of them work well. The company introduces updated versions every year and a whole bunch of new products every fall, but this year I am saving my money.
I can't tell you how many times I've been sitting on the couch watching a movie when out of nowhere, Alexa decides to interrupt. If she were human, you would call her rude. There is always some random, nonsensical shutout at the most inopportune moments. A couple months ago she started randomly telling me the weather - at 11 pm. Like clockwork, I get a weather update every OTHER night. How weird. I have never set such a reminder or enabled a weather app skill.
The other day she woke us up at 1:20 am. Trust me, no one in my house has ever set an alarm for 1:20 am. Of course, it made us jump out of bed then we realized it was dark out. It took everyone awhile to get back to sleep and made for a long day at work the next day. Other times she decides to not even ring the alarm at all. I've been late to work a couple times this year when I swear she didn't go off in the morning. I learned my lesson and bought an old school alarm clock.
Terrible Voice Recognition
Even though Alexa is a talker, she is a terrible listener. She never understands anything I say. It takes me at least three tries to turn off the alarm every morning. If I ask her to play something like 'Sublime- Santeria', she responds "sorry, I don't understand that". Ask her to play 'Metallica - For Whom the Bell Tolls' and she responds "Maryanne - Blue Bells for Tom is not part of your library". I know it's funny, but it's also annoying.
As much as Alexa hates my voice, she LOVES my boyfriends. If I didn't know better, I would swear she has a crush on him. She understands everything he says. If we want to play music or change the temperature on our Nest thermostat, she refuses to acknowledge what I say but does whatever he asks right away.
Sure it's a nitpick, but honestly I find the voice on Alexa so annoying. It was cool at first, like a little robotic butler there to answer all your questions, but over the last few years I have just grown to be annoyed by her voice. It's so digital and dry - every time she talks I feel like I am watching a bad science fiction movie. It might be a little better if you could pick from a few different voices, or choose if your smart home assistant was a man or woman. So far, Amazon has made no move to allow customization of the Alexa device.
Plenty of people have security concerns about Amazon and its Alexa devices, wondering if their data is safe and private when a device is always listening in. To be honest, I never really worried about it and security concerns were pretty low on my list - which is why I mention it last.
I have to admit though, randomly answering questions made me wonder just how much Alexa had heard - and what would she do with all that insider information? I didn't think it was a coincidence when we would talk about buying something, then the next time I logged into Amazon a similar item was at the top of my suggested items to purchase.
After all the other problems I experienced, glitches, random alarms, poor voice recognition, and a possible crush on my boyfriend - the security issues made me think twice about having the device in my house. I guess you could say it was the straw that broke the camels back. Why tolerate all the other problems AND allow it to listen in on my private conversations? That was a deal breaker for us and we made the decision to toss Alexa out of our house for good. I guess we will be giving Google smart home products a try.
Brooke Bailey is a personal trainer, masseuse, and student in health and wellness.
She currently resides in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Follow her on Facebook.