AVS UX Interrupts Guidance

When you carry on a conversation with another person, you can change the subject at any time and continue on smoothly. Our aim is to make that true when speaking with Alexa as well. Alexa should always be responsive to customer interaction.

An Alexa-built in device prioritizes customer interaction over everything else, ensuring it's always able to detect a customer's utterance.

When interactions with Alexa overlap or conflict, in order to make the exchange as smooth as possible, we must think about the order of priority of the interactions. What do we do when multiple conflicting events occur, either from customer request or from the Alexa service? Providing a consistent, intuitive interaction model will increase a customer's engagement with your device, and lead to a much more satisfying overall experience.

Activity types

Alexa interactions can be divided into these basic groups listed in order of precedence:

  1. Customer-initiated input (for example, utterance or Action button)
  2. Alexa TTS responses (for example, responses to queries or skills)
  3. Alerts
  4. Notifications
  5. Audio/Music.

In order to demonstrate how these situations should be handled, we include the examples below. They will help you understand how to handle a number of interruption scenarios.

For more technical information about how audio channels interact, see Interaction Model.


In whatever way your device handles interruptions, the customer must always be able to dismiss activities, interactions, and responses.

Pausing audio playback

When a higher priority activity interrupts audio playback on your device, you should pause the current activity. For example, imagine a customer is listening to music and asks Alexa what time it is. The media should pause until Alexa's response is complete.

You may choose whether your device resumes or restarts interrupted audio content after an interruption.

Example scenarios

The scenarios in this section are provided to give you specific examples of conflicting Alexa activities and how they should be prioritized. In these cases, and in other use cases that may be unique to your device, we recommended prioritizing interruptions as listed in the Activity types section above, always giving preference to customer-initiated interactions.

Customer interrupting Alexa

When Alexa is speaking

When Alexa is Playing Long Running Media

Customer interrupting Alerts

When An Alert is Playing in Short mode

The short mode for an Alert occurs only when the Alert is playing while an Alexa TTS response is also being read. The expected results are the same as for customers interrupting Alexa: when Alexa is speaking, the Alert continues playing in short mode through the entire interaction.

When An Alert is Playing in full mode

Alerts interrupting Alexa

Alerts, such as alarms and reminders, can interrupt Alexa interactions and responses. Each Alert type has a different looping pattern and sound file.

When Alexa is speaking

When Alexa is playing long running media

Notifications interrupting Alexa

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Last updated: Nov 27, 2023