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The Mystery of The Blue Light Ends Today!
Alexa, the Echo Dot, and the Echo use two things to communicate with us. The primary mode of communication is of course Alexa’s calm and measured voice. The second mode of communication is the light ring located at the crown of the unit.
Much like a typical internet modem or wifi router, the Dot and Echo use different colors that correspond to certain functions in order to keep us in the know without having Alexa blurt it out.
To seamlessly integrate a smart speaker into your home and life, It’s recommended that you familiarize yourself with the meaning of each color.
Orange, for instance, means the unit is in the process of connecting to your wifi, purple signifies a failed attempt at connecting to your wifi, red means that the microphone has been disabled, white tells of a change in volume, while yellow alerts you of a new message.
But of all the colors in Alexa’s rainbow, blue is the most common of all, and it can mean a number of different things depending on how the light is presented. In this article, I’m going to break down all the blue light variations, what they mean, and how to resolve any issues.
Who Is Alexa?
I’d assume that if you’re reading this article, you and Alexa are already well acquainted, but just in case you have no idea what I’m waffling on about, this brief overview should clear things up.
Alexa, or Amazon Alexa as it is sometimes called, is the virtual assistant artificial intelligence created by Amazon. It’s the voice you hear when you communicate with an Amazon smart speaker.
Alexa is capable of doing a number of things when commanded, including general interaction, making to-do lists, setting alarms for numerous events, music playback, retrieving information, streaming podcasts, and playing audiobooks among other things. Alexa can also be used as a home automation system when combined with peripheral smart devices.
Remember Hal, the spaceship’s AI in Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey? Well, that’s essentially what Alexa is, but way, way less scary — phew!
Ultimately, Alexa exists to make our lives easier.
To communicate with Alexa, you must first use what’s known as a “wake word”. A wake word is an utterance that the smart speaker and Alexa register as a trigger to begin a conversation. The default wake word is simply, “Alexa”, but it can be changed to “Amazon” or “Echo”, or “Computer”.
The terms Alexa, Echo, and Dot are often erroneously used interchangeably, but there are some significant differences that set each of these entities apart. Alexa refers only to the AI programming that converses with you and acts on your commands. The Echo and Dot are simply the physical units that Alexa speaks through. The Echo features a standalone, integrated speaker, whereas the Dot can be connected to an external sound system.
So, now that you’re familiar with this infamous AI and what it’s capable of, let’s discuss the matter at hand: the mystery of the spinning blue lights.
1. Alexa is Processing Your Command (Blue Light Spinning Momentarily)
The most common reason for your smart speaker to flash the spinning blue light is simply that Alexa is registering your voice, preparing itself to execute your commands.
That’s not to say the blue light should appear whenever the smart seeker hears a noise. In this instance, you should only ever see them once the wake word has been uttered.
Once Alexa hears your voice, it will illuminate a solid blue light. Then, once you’ve requested something, the blue light will start to spin, signaling that Alexa is doing the whole “your wish is my command” thing.
You don’t need to worry about this at all. Just kick back and let Alexa take care of business. That’s what it was designed to do.
If everything is set up correctly and working as it should, this spinning blue light should only flash a few times as Alexa handles your request, then it will turn off.
2. Alexa Has Misinterpreted Background Noise as a Voice Command (Solid Blue Light, Sometimes Followed by Momentary Spinning)
It can be pretty spooky when Alexa starts flashing that mysterious blue light on your smart speaker when you haven’t said a thing. Don’t worry, though, friend; your house isn’t haunted...as far as I know.
This is normally just a sign that Alexa has mistaken some surrounding noise as a wake word. You’ll know if this is the case as the solid blue light will flash in the direction of the noise.
It’s rare, but if the solid blue light starts spinning, it means Alexa has also mistaken the surrounding noise as a voice command.
Side-Note - If the blue light starts spinning straight away even though you haven’t spoken a wake word, it’s possible that Follow-On Mode has been left on, eliminating the need to preface a command with the wake word.
3. Alexa Is in Pairing Mode (Constantly Spinning Blue Light)
Pairing is a common process that most wireless devices do to connect up and communicate with one another. When you connect your Bluetooth headphones to a computer or your phone, that’s pairing.
Your smart speaker needs to pair with any other smart devices as well as your phone in order to offer a full range of services.
While in pairing mode, the blue light will be constantly spinning, and Alexa won’t register the wake word or act on any commands.
The only way to stop the spinning blue light in this instance is to complete the pairing process. You can do this on your phone by…
- Turning on your phone’s Bluetooth.
- Opening the Alexa app.
- Navigating to the “Devices” menu.
- Selecting “Echo and Alexa”.
- Choosing the device you wish to pair.
- Selecting “Bluetooth Devices”.
- “Pair a New Device”.
4. Alexa is Running a Firmware Update (Constantly Spinning Blue Light)
Pairing mode isn’t the only reason your smart speaker may be perpetually spinning that signature blue light. If all pairing is complete, the chances are that your smart speaker and Alexa are automatically running a firmware update.
Firmware updates are advanced operational instructions developed by the manufacturer. They’re designed to improve the functionality of an electronic device. Sometimes they’re administered to remedy bugs or operating errors. Other times, firmware updates bring new features to the table and make the device even more useful.
When the update is ongoing, Alexa won't be listening to your commands...rude, I know, but don’t sweat it. As soon as the new firmware has finished updating, everything should return to normal, and Alexa will once again be your humble assistant.
If you’re unsure whether Alexa’s constant spinning blue light is down to a pairing issue or a firmware update, check the Alexa app on your phone to see whether your wireless devices are connected.
5. Do Not Disturb Mode (Momentary Spinning Blue Light Followed by a Purple Flash)
No luck so far in diagnosing Alexa’s blue disco? Then it must be that you’ve got Do Not Disturb Mode enabled on your smart speaker.
Fortunately, this issue is easy to diagnose and can be fixed in an instance. When Do Not Disturb Mode is on and you use your wake word and give a command, it will manifest itself in a momentary spinning blue light that concludes with a single purple flash.
This light sequence only ever refers to the same thing, and despite the spinning blue light, Alexa will not act on your command.
Most of the time, users will set Alexa to Do Not Disturb so they can work or make a few phone calls, and then forget, leading to confusion when Alexa is suddenly giving them the cold shoulder.
To get Alexa talking to you again, all you need to do is disable Do Not Disturb Mode by…
- Opening the Alexa app.
- Selecting “Devices”.
- Selecting “Echo and Alexa”.
- Choosing your device.
- Selecting “Do Not Disturb”.
- Toggling Do Not Disturb to off.
Once Do Not Disturb Mode has been switched off, Alexa should kick back into action as soon as you mention the wake word, ready to help you organize and make the most of your day.
Case closed, people! These are the only five reasons that Alexa will flash you the blue light. A solid or momentary spinning blue light is a signal that Alexa is registering the wake word and working on your command.
A persistent spinning blue light is caused by Pairing Mode or an automatic firmware update.
On the other hand, a momentary spinning blue light followed by a purple flash means Do Not Disturb Mode is active.
If none of these reasons for the blue light seem to apply to your smart speaker, there’s a good chance there’s a problem with the firmware or an even deeper technical issue that can only be solved by an expert.
If that’s the case, I’d recommend contacting Amazon directly and asking for assistance. You may have to send Alexa back for a checkup, but I’m sure you can last a week or so on your own. All the best!