AVS UX for Product Buttons
While Alexa is intended to be primarily voice-forward, it is not always possible, or even preferable, for your customers to interact with Alexa using voice. Your Alexa Built-in (ABI) device must provide another way to interact without using voice. This page presents recommendations for including hardware or on-screen buttons on your device, and making them easy to use for your customers.
- Button types
- Button appearance
- Button location
- Special cases
An ABI device should have discrete controls (physical or GUI) to interact with Alexa. Amazon recommends having separate buttons for:
- Microphone On/Off
- Hands Free On/Off (optional for far field products)
- Volume up
- Volume down.
There must be a clear difference between the buttons. If possible, Amazon strongly recommends avoiding overloading buttons, which means assigning multiple functions to a single button. Overloading buttons is discussed in more detail below.
An Alexa Built-in product should have an Action button. This button can be a physical button, an on-screen button, or a button in a companion app.
When a customer presses the Action button, the device must immediately respond with the appropriate Action function depending on the current state of the product.
As described in Functional Requirement 1.3, the Action button provides users access to the following Action functions:
- Physically initiate an Alexa interaction when the product is in Idle state and there is no active Alexa output.
- Physically interrupt when there is active Alexa output in order to initiate an Alexa interaction.
- Physically dismiss a sounding Alert without affecting any other ongoing Alexa activity, such as media playback.
The Action button stops or attenuates playback when Alexa is responding to a customer utterance or playing media, such as music. A single press will attenuate or pause the activity and put the device into active Listening mode. If Alexa doesn’t hear any utterance from the customer, the product will return to the Idle state with the playback continuing at its previous volume.
When an Alert is playing, a single press will stop the alert. This function fulfills the requirement to provide a way to physically dismiss an Alert when there is no internet connectivity.
For more information about how the Action button interrupts Alexa media playback and responses, and dismisses Alerts, see the Interrupts guidance page.
Amazon also highly recommends using the Action button for only the Action functions. If your product must overload the Action button, please see the overloading recommendations below.
Action button types
The Action button is often also called the Push to Talk (PTT) button. There are two types of Action buttons.
Push Release Talk (PRT)
Your customer presses and then releases a PRT Action button. When the button is released, your product enters the Listening state. The customer can talk to Alexa and the Listening state ends when your product determines that the customer is finished talking. Your product then proceeds to the Thinking and Speaking interaction states without any additional physical gestures from the customer.
Push Hold Talk (PHT)
Your customer presses and holds a PHT Action button. When the button is pressed, your product enters the Listening state. Your product remains in the Listening state until the customer releases the button. Upon release of the button, the Listening state ends and the Thinking and Speaking states of the interaction proceed without any further physical gestures from the customer. PHT Action buttons are most commonly designed into the remote control units for products like TVs and STBs.
Remote control guidance
An ABI TV or STB product commonly includes a single near-field microphone integrated into the remote control unit (RCU). Typically, this microphone is controlled with a PHT Action button on the RCU. A TV or STB may also have a far-field microphone array that gives customers the ability to experience Alexa interactions without the need to pick up the RCU and press the Action button. To ensure customer privacy control, a far-field ABI product is required to have a physical ON/OFF switch that cuts power to the far-field microphone array.
Even if the far-field array microphones have been turned OFF, the RCU Action button and microphone SHALL continue to enable users to experience successful Alexa interactions.
Alert dismissal guidance
Typically, you assign all three of the Action functions to the Action button of a product. However, there may be a design need to conditionally assign the Alert dismissal function to a separate button in addition to or instead of the button assigned to the Alexa interaction and interruption functions. This is often a design approach for touch-initiation (push-to-talk) products with a remote control unit (RCU). The following guidelines apply when your product conditionally assigns the Alert dismissal function to a separate button:
- Under the Alert sounding condition, Alert dismissal SHALL be the only function of the assigned button. For example, consider a product for which Alert dismissal has been conditionally assigned to the play/pause button on the RCU. When an Alert is sounding, your product SHALL NOT pause or resume media playback when the customer presses the button to dismiss the Alert.
- Your product SHALL NOT conditionally assign the Alert dismissal function to the power on/off, volume up, volume down, or audio output mute buttons.
- Your product SHALL conditionally assign the Alert dismissal function to an intuitive button such as media playback play/pause or back. Conditional assignment of Alert dismissal to any other button SHALL be subject to Amazon review and approval before implementation.
- Your product SHOULD include Alert dismissal instruction during the Education stage of Alexa setup.
Buttons for privacy
Devices with microphones or cameras must have a hardware-based On/Off button which removes power to all microphones and cameras when turned off. Turning the microphone off serves to prevent all voice interaction with Alexa.
Some products may require that microphones be turned on for uses other than interacting with Alexa. If so, those products may also provide a physical or on-screen way to enable and disable Alexa’s capability to detect wake words, for example an additional Hands Free On/Off button.
When a device is put into the Microphone Off state or when Hands Free is turned off, you must not sign out a user, or deregister their device, from their Alexa account. To indicate that the device has been put into the Microphone Off state, or a Hands Free Off state, follow the guidelines described in the Attention System page.
Note: If your device is tap-to-talk or hold-to-talk only, you should not have a Hands Free On/Off button. It is unnecessary since the customer does not use the wake word, and must tap or hold an Action button to initiate an Alexa interaction.
Your device must have physical or GUI volume controls (non-voice) so that the customer is able to change the system volume level even if there is no internet connectivity and Alexa is unavailable. This is a requirement for all devices.
For ease of use, Amazon recommends that the volume controls be:
- Easily accessible by the customer
- Clearly marked
- Not overloaded with other functions.
All buttons should be:
- Easy to use
- Clearly marked
- In a location that is easily accessed by the customer.
Physical buttons can be on the device or a device remote control. The icon you should use can be impacted by:
- Size of the buttons
- Overloading button functions
- The presence of multiple voice assistants
- Other icons on the device.
For the Action button, if there are not multiple voice assistants on the device, you should use the Alexa Talk Bubble logo.
If the button icons are so small that the Alexa Talk Bubble logo does not render well, a microphone icon, or a dot like the Amazon Echo Action button, are acceptable alternatives.
If there are multiple voice assistants available when the customer presses the Action button, or other microphone functions are available on the button when the customer has not registered Alexa, you must use a microphone icon. Amazon does not provide this icon. Choose one that matches your other buttons' icon style.
For the Microphone ON/OFF button:
- You must not use any Alexa logos.
- Amazon recommends using a slashed-circle icon, as shown in the examples below.
- A slashed-microphone icon is an acceptable alternative for devices with no camera.
GUI, or on-screen, buttons can be on the device screen or in the product's companion app. GUI buttons should use the Alexa Talk Bubble logo in either white (against a dark background), squid ink or black (against a light background), or Alexa blue.
If your product provides a Hands-Free ON/OFF setting, do not mark it with the slashed-circle icon shown below.
These examples show the recommended icon designs for your buttons. If you use a slashed-microphone icon, it should adhere to the style of other buttons on your device.
Alexa Action button
For more information on how to use the Alexa logo, see Logo and Brand Usage.
The location of device buttons depends on your device type and use cases, but generally should be in a location that the customer can access easily.
For Smart Speakers and similar audio devices
These are devices that do not have a touch screen and are usually placed where customers can reach them easily. Buttons should be located on the top or front of the speaker.
TVs and similar visual devices
These are screen-based devices that use a remote control for touch interactions, rather than being directly touched by the customer. Buttons should be located on the remote control. The customer should be able to easily press the button while also holding the remote toward their mouth.
Tablets and similar visual devices
These are screen-based devices with touch screens. These devices can be designed for in-hand use or can be docked or mounted within easy reach of a customer. In this case, the display and location of the buttons, especially the Action and Hands Free On/Off buttons, depends on Alexa's attention state.
Note: If your product can be docked, and you choose to include physical controls or attention system indicators on the dock, you must follow the same requirements for button placement and appearance and for attention system display as the smart speaker guidance.
When Alexa is in Idle state, or playing media, the Action and Hands Free On/Off buttons do not have to be visible at all times on the screen. However, to ensure that the customer is able to easily and quickly reach them, the buttons should be included in the quick launcher or system tray that is available on all screens on your product.
When Alexa is responding with TTS, the Action button should be visible on the screen so the customer can, for example, tap on the Action button to interrupt Alexa. Amazon recommends that Alexa goes into a Listening state to match Smart Speaker behavior. An alternative is to stop the Alexa response and return to the Idle state.
When an Alert is sounding, at least the Action Button should be visible on the screen so that the customer can click on it to stop the Alert. This ensures the customer can stop an alarm even if your product does not have internet connectivity.
Out-of-reach devices with no remote control
These are devices that are mounted out of reach of a customer but do not have a remote control like a TV does. Your device must include the buttons, with the same look and behavior, in your product's companion app.
Overloading buttons refers to assigning multiple functions to a single button. In order to avoid confusion and provide the customer the best possible experience, Amazon does not recommend overloading physical buttons.
- Microphone On/Off buttons SHALL NOT be overloaded.
- On-screen (GUI) buttons SHALL NOT be overloaded.
- An overloaded Action button SHALL NOT be marked with an Alexa logo.
If you find that you do have to overload physical buttons, try not to assign more than two device functions to a single button. Also, try to stack Alexa-related functions onto the same button.
If the customer must use button press patterns to activate different functions, Amazon recommends the following:
- Avoid complex press patterns that are difficult for customers to learn or remember.
- If you overload the Action button with other functions, a short press should activate Action, making it the primary function of the button. A long press would then activate the other function.
- If you overload a Hands Free On/Off button (not a Microphone On/Off button) with any other function, other than Action, a short press should activate Hands Free On/Off, making it the primary function of the button. A long press would then activate the other function. Remember that it is important to keep the Hands Free On/Off function easy for the customer to access. Do not hide it behind complex button interactions.
Some devices may have few or no buttons, and depend on customer gestures to activate different functions. If your product is a gesture-based device, you must have a gesture that is the equivalent of the Action button, and making the gesture must have the same results as pressing the Action button.
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Last updated: Dec 11, 2023