Spotify outage not related to today’s update, company is working on a fix

This morning, Spotify announced the rollout of a redesigned app for its Premium users. Now, the service is down. The streaming music provider is experiencing an outage today, according to reports from social media and various outage-tracking websites, including DownDetector. Spotify had failed to acknowledge the outage on its Spotify Status Twitter account, but the company has now confirmed the outage directly with TechCrunch.

Spotify’s Twitter customer support team is also responding to customers to let them know the company is aware of the problem and working on a fix.

Many of the impacted users appear to be complaining about their Spotify mobile app not working — something that led people to believe the outage is related to the app redesign that went live earlier today.

Spotify tells TechCrunch that’s not the case, however.

The company isn’t offering information about what is causing the issue, nor any other details, but says it’s working to bring the service back online.

According to Down Detector, Spotify began having issues as early as 8:22 AM ET. But its chart shows a clear spike later in the morning heading into the afternoon.

Its outage map shows a heavy concentration of reports in the U.S., but U.K. tabloid publications noted the outage is happening there, as well.

Meanwhile, the website Outage.Report claims to have received hundreds of reports of Spotify issues beginning around the same time of ~8:00 AM ET. Reports hail from the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Brazil, the U.K. and 26 other countries, it says. A third service, IsItDownRightNow.com, also reports the Spotify.com website is currently unreachable.

We’ll update with more information as it becomes available.

Having trouble with Amazon Alexa? You’re not the only one.

If your requests to Alexa are being met with answers like “I’m having some trouble, please try again later,” you are not alone. Multiple users are reporting connection issues with Amazon’s voice assistant. According to Down Detector’s outage tracker and live outage map, issues are currently being detected around the world, with user reports starting around 7PM EST.

We’ve reached out to Amazon and will update this post when more information is available.

911 emergency services go down across the US after CenturyLink outage

911 emergency services in several states across the U.S. remain down after a massive outage at a CenturyLink data center.

The outage began after 12pm ET on Thursday, according to CenturyLink’s status page, and continues to cause disruption across 911 call centers. Some states have seen their services restored. CenturyLink has not said what caused the outage beyond an issue with a “network element,” but said in its latest update — around 11am ET on Friday — that the company said that it was “seeing good progress, but our service restoration work is not complete.”

In a tweet, the telecoms giant said it was “working tirelessly” to get its affected systems back up and running.

CenturyLink, one of the largest telecommunications providers in the U.S., provides internet and phone backbone services to major cell carriers, including AT&T and Verizon. Data center or fiber issues can have a knock-on effect to other companies, cutting out service and causing cell site blackouts.

In this case, the outage affected only cellular calls to 911, and not landline calls.

Several states sent emergency alerts to residents’ cell phones warning of the outage.

Among the areas affected include Seattle, Washington and Salt Lake City, Utah. Several other states, including Idaho, Oregon, Arizona and Missouri, are also affected, local news has reported.

Many other police departments tweeted out alternative numbers for 911 in the event of an emergency.

Police in Boston, Massachusetts tweeted that their service was restored this morning.

Ajit Pai, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, which regulates and monitors 911 services, said the commission is investigating the outage.

“When an emergency strikes, it’s critical that Americans are able to use 911 to reach those who can help,” said Pai in a statement. “The CenturyLink service outage is therefore completely unacceptable, and its breadth and duration are particularly troubling.”

“I’ve directed the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau to immediately launch an investigation into the cause and impact of this outage. This inquiry will include an examination of the effect that CenturyLink’s outage appears to have had on other providers’ 911 services,” he said.

TechCrunch will have more when it comes in.

Philips Hue has been having a holiday outage, too

Alexa wasn’t the only thing that crashed over Christmas due to an influx of new users. Apparently, Philips Hue has been having an outage, as well. A multi-day outage, in fact. The company confirmed on Wednesday that customers were experiencing issues creating new accounts, logging in and linking their account to third parties. It blamed the issues on “a lot of new activations.”

In other words, many people received Hue’s connected lighting products over the holidays and were now trying to set up their smart bulbs and other devices all around the same time. Hue’s servers couldn’t keep up with the demand and weren’t responding to the incoming requests. That meant users couldn’t create or log into their MyHue account, or connect their lights to their Amazon Echo or Google Home.

Customers were, understandably, very frustrated — especially because their issues began on Christmas, and had continued for days with no word from the company.

Others complained they had wasted several hours troubleshooting the problem, having not realized it was a Hue outage that was at fault, as a result of this lack of communication.

Philips Hue’s Twitter account didn’t make a public announcement about the outage until Wednesday — instead, the company was only replying to individual users.

Because Twitter hides replies in a separate tab, visitors to Hue’s Twitter page wouldn’t have seen any statements from the company unless they clicked over to see the back-and-forth conversations with Hue’s customers — and some of those weren’t outage-related.

People who followed Hue on Twitter wouldn’t have seen these replies in their own timelines, either.

Philips Hue had also downplayed the problem in its initial replies, as well, saying server issues were affecting only a “small percentage” of users.

Customers were told to try again or try in a few hours.

While Alexa had crashed on Christmas due to a similar problem of too many new users hitting its servers all at once, its outage only lasted a couple of hours.

In Philip Hue’s case, customers have been inconvenienced for much longer.

Many are also new Hue customers — those who are trying to trying to create their account and set up their devices for the first time. For some, Hue’s smart light bulbs may even be their first experience with a smart home device — and this outage may leave them not wanting to try again.

Early on Thursday, Hue’s Twitter account began to reply to individual users, telling them the service “should be up and running.”

But it also warned them that, depending on demand, they may have to try a few times today to get everything going. The company additionally suggested to some that they should try to set up the lights during off-peak hours, like the morning.

We reached out to Philips Hue to ask if the outage was indeed resolved, and will update with a statement if one is provided.

Update, 12/27/18, 1:30 PM ET: According to a spokesperson, the company hopes to have the issue corrected soon. They said:

“Following the holidays, we are seeing a high number of users setting up their Hue accounts. Unfortunately, this is causing a delay for some customers who have not been able to create their Hue account or link Hue to their voice assistant. We are working to support this increased traffic and help our customers complete their setup. We expect to have the issue corrected shortly.”

Alexa crashed on Christmas Day

Amazon this morning said its Alexa devices were among the holiday season’s best-sellers, particularly the Echo and Echo Dot. But the influx of new users setting up their devices for the first time on Christmas Day appeared to be more than Alexa could handle. The service crashed briefly on Christmas, as thousands of new Alexa device owners tried to connect their Echo to Amazon’s servers around the same time.

The Guardian first reported the Alexa outage, which began around 10 AM GMT and led existing Echo owners to complain they were unable to use their devices for regular tasks like playing music or smart home controls, for example.

Others said they were unable to set up their device, despite not having any other internet or home Wi-Fi issues, which seemed to point to a server-side outage.

Amazon’s Twitter account noted the issues were isolated to Europe, saying at 8:43 AM EST (1:43 PM GMT): “Over the past two hours some Echo devices in Europe have had intermittent connections.” The outage was resolved by the time the account had responded, meaning it had only lasted a couple of hours.

An Amazon spokesperson also confirmed the outage to TechCrunch.

“For a short period yesterday morning we had an issue that intermittently impacted some Alexa customers’ ability to interact with the service,” the spokesperson said. “The Alexa service is now operating normally.”

Amazon declined to offer details on what caused the outage, or explain how it was resolved. Likely, it was related to the increased number of requests. The Alexa app shot to the top of the App Store and Google Play on Christmas – another signal that points to a large number of first-time Echo owners setting up new devices on the holiday.

The website Down Detector had also spotted troubles with Alexa which impacted Europe, with a peak of 2,183 reports coming in at the height of the outage. The reports then tapered off a couple of hours later.

This isn’t Alexa’s first outage by any means, nor even its first this year. The service can become unresponsive at times, either due to server issues or overloads. In March, for example, the voice service went down even while the Alexa mobile app still worked.

And in September, Alexa went down across Europe, apparently related to an AWS outage in Ireland. That was followed by a U.S. outage the following month, which led the assistant to respond to requests with “sorry, something went wrong.”

Europe is a growing market for Alexa, with Amazon having introduced its smart speaker to Italy and Spain, this June. Alexa’s other international markets include the U.K., Australia, India, New Zealand, Germany, Japan and Ireland.

Amazon Alexa goes AWOL for many users

Some Amazon Alexa users are currently having problems reaching the voice assistant. Instead of reacting to commands, Alexa simply says “sorry, something went wrong.” Amazon hasn’t commented publicly yet on the issue.

Based on tweets and Down Detector, users began having trouble reaching Alexa around 7AM PST. While some had their connection issues resolved quickly, many others are still waiting.

This follows an outage last month that mainly affected Echo devices in parts of the United Kingdom, Spain, Germany, and Australia. According to Down Detector’s outage map, however, most of the users who currently can’t reach Alexa are in the United States.

Alexa also suffered an outage in March after an Amazon Web Services networking issue.

TechCrunch has contacted Amazon for comment.

Instapaper says it’s now fully restored after last week’s outage

instapaper-iphone-ipad Instapaper says today it has fully recovered from its extended outage, which caused the service to be down for over a day last week, then saw it return in a limited capacity. The popular bookmarking service, which had millions of users at the time of its acquisition by Pinterest, suffered an outage last week caused by hitting a system limit on its AWS hosted database. When the company posted… Read More