Amazon’s virtual assistant Alexa has been hit by a system outage in the UK, with many users reporting they were unable to use the digital helper.
Reports on social media from users claimed that attempts to use the virtual assistant on Amazon’s Echo smart speakers were being met with a response that the software was “having trouble understanding right now”.
Visitors to the official Alexa app were greeted with a message confirming the problem.
“Sorry, we’re experiencing system issues. Alexa isn’t responding as fast as usual. We’re working on fixing this,” it said.
According to digital service monitor Downdectector, Alexa began suffering problems at 8.30am on Wednesday, though many began to report service returning from around 2pm.
Amazon is yet to officially comment on the cause of the outage.
The technology giant’s customer support Twitter account had responded to some users reporting Alexa problems with suggestions that they restart their Echo smart speakers.
The assistant was at the centre of another technical glitch earlier this year when users reported hearing Alexa laugh at random intervals, an issue Amazon said was linked to the software mistakenly hearing the phrase “Alexa, laugh”, an utterance the company said it would disable to prevent future “false positives”.
Alexa was unveiled in 2014 as an artificial intelligence-powered assistant able to understand and respond to voice commands and queries.
Built into Amazon’s line of internet-connected Echo smart speakers, Alexa has grown into a hub for the smart home, able to control other connected devices such as speakers, lighting and kitchen appliances when prompted.
Last week, Amazon unveiled a new line-up of Alexa-enabled devices including the company’s first Alexa-compatible microwave and wall clock.
The assistant has been a key part of the rise of smart home devices in recent years, with YouGov research from earlier this year revealing that nearly a quarter of UK homes (23%) now own a smart device.