Notification and error handling

Notification indicators inform customers that new content is available from Alexa. When a notification is delivered, the customer is notified by visual and audio indicators. Visual notifications and errors should be used sparingly and only surfaced during relevant or urgent situations in the vehicle. This section will cover the different types of notifications and errors that may present themselves visually in the IVI.

For information on error and notification audio cues, see Visual Language.


Conceptually, your product shouldn’t care about the content of individual notifications. All your product needs to do is manage the indicator state for the customer. The Alexa API will communicate what the proper state of that indicator should be. For a consistent Alexa experience, you'll need three notification states: new notification has arrived; new notifications queued; and alarm or timer has gone off.

New notification arrived

This interface provides the audio and visual indicators that prompt the customer something new is available. Customers can retrieve any pending notifications by asking, "Alexa, what did I miss?" or "Alexa, what are my notifications?"

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(Required) Immediately indicate visually when Alexa sends a new notification and include attribution.

If your system has a standard notification design you may use it, but you must ensure Alexa is being attributed so the customer knows they have to invoke Alexa to learn more.

(Recommended) Alexa's customers are used to notifications appearing on the voice chrome component. We recommend the voice chrome bar or button component appear whenever a notification arrives, pulse a yellow LED, and play an audio file.

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Soft tap-to-talk Voice Chrome notification
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Linear tap-to-talk Voice Chrome notification

Follow Visual Language for more details on building out this state. For more information on voice chrome, review Invoking Alexa

New notifications queued

The queue stores new (unplayed), and archived notifications. We leave it up to you to define notifications in a way that is consistent within your product.

(Required) Indicate visually when Alexa has a notification in the queue.

When the device/vehicle receives a ClearIndicator directive, you can stop displaying a notification indicator.

Alarms and timers

Alexa allows customers to set alarms and timers in the vehicle. She knows when the timer has been set, and when it has gone off. Because our customers are driving, we do not want to cause surprise when these go off in the vehicle, so adhering to the following guidelines helps to reduce the surprise.

(Required) When an alarm or timer has been set, a persistent visual must be present until the alarm or timer has completed.

Reminding the customer with a persistent visual, helps reduce the element of surprise when the alarm goes off. Please see Visual Language for detailed specifications on this component.

(Required) Provide customers a way to dismiss Timers and Alarms with an on-screen button and by voice, even when offline.

Customers should be able to stop or cancel timers and alarms by voice or a button even when there is no connection to the internet. Pressing the button should stop the alarm and not wake Alexa.

(Required) Timers and Alarms should automatically dismiss after a set duration.

No longer than 30 seconds.

Error Handling

When something goes wrong, customers will hear Alexa respond. If the Alexa service cannot be reached due to a network error or Alexa hasn't been set up, your system should handle the error both audibly and on the screen. See UI Text Guidelines.

(Recommended) If your IVI requires additional error messages use polite, precise and constructive language using the following best practices:

  1. When possible, let the customer know what went wrong and how to complete their request. Avoid dead ends.
  2. Don't include information that isn't directly related to solving the problem. This includes providing error codes. Customer's find them scary and unhelpful.
  3. Never try to sell something in an error message.
  4. Don't display a persistent error dialog unless the customer's input or acknowledgment is crucial.
  5. Avoid humor in error messages. Balance being helpful, informative, succinct, and conversational. Customers take errors seriously, so should we.
  6. When discussing unsupported features, do not use the terminology “yet”. We avoid giving hints about what may or may not be on the release roadmap.
  7. Let the customer know the requested action wasn’t completed. We shouldn't assume that the customer will be able to guess that the request wasn't completed.

The following are some examples of different Alexa Error cases and our recommended customer experience for these flows:

Context: Customer invokes Alexa when no Alexa account has been set up. Rather than surfacing an error message, direct the customer to sign in:

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Sign in / linking screen
Context: Network error occurs while using Alexa
Error message:
Title: “Network error”
String: “There were issues connecting. Please check your network connection and try again.”
Action button: “Network settings”
Context: Network error during setup
Error message:
Title: “Network error”
String: “Alexa needs access to the internet to complete setup. Please check your network connection and try again.”
Action button: “Network settings”
Context: Timeout during setup
Error message:
Title: “Setup was not complete”
String: “There was an issue setting up Alexa. Please try again.”
Action button: “Try again”
Context: Alexa is not available in their language (should be translated to language not supported)
Error message:
Title: “Language not supported”
String: “Alexa isn’t available in [selected language]. Select a language for Alexa.”
Action button: “Select Language”