Amazon's Alexa voice assistant gets a long overdue feature on Android and iOS

Amazon's Alexa voice assistant gets a long overdue feature on Android and iOS
In many ways, Alexa can be considered a more powerful, versatile, and convenient virtual assistant than Google and Apple's alternatives, constantly getting cool new features, skills, and major improvements centered primarily on smart home use.

Unfortunately for Amazon, its in-house AI is nowhere near as user-friendly as Google Assistant and Siri on Android handsets and iPhones, although the e-commerce giant is at least trying to improve Alexa's mobile device functionality.

As originally reported by TechCrunch, the voice assistant is finally receiving hands-free capabilities for smartphones thanks to an app update set to gradually roll out around the world "over the next several days." If you can already install the latest mobile app version from Google's Play Store or Apple's App Store, the only thing you need to do after that is enable the hands-free detection feature when first opening the updated app.

Still, you won't be able to talk directly to Alexa on your phone even after doing that. Instead, you'll have to manually open the app or ask another AI, be it Siri or Google Assistant, to do that for you every time you want to interact with Amazon's popular digital assistant for hands-free smart home controls, music streaming, general web searches, reminders, weather information, and so on.

That's definitely a little inconvenient, not to mention the awkwardness of needing to use a voice assistant to activate a second voice assistant from a different company, but this somewhat cumbersome process still beats the old method of summoning Alexa on an iPhone or Android device. That involved manually opening the dedicated mobile app and then tapping a button at the bottom of the screen.

Don't forget about the wake word if you want to try out the new hands-free functionality, which is set to "Alexa" by default but can be easily changed to one of several alternatives. The freshly added feature can also be easily disabled if you don't find it very useful, although we really don't see how it might inconvenience you to keep it enabled just in case you ever feel the need to use it.

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