Amazon has finally extended the capabilities of its dedicated Android app so that it's more comparable to how Alexa functions on its home smart speaker devices. That means users will be able to interact with their device via Alexa as an alternative to Google's often pre-installed Google Assistant, with one relatively big caveat. Specifically, it will allow for the functionality many users probably expected when they first installed the app, rather than an application that is effectively only used to set up an Amazon Echo or similar device. With that said, it bears mention that this rollout could take some time to hit users, as is most often the case with updates, so users shouldn't be too concerned if it hasn't hit their device just yet.
Getting the caveats out of the way, to begin with, Amazon has said that users will not, at least for the time being, be able to simply say "Alexa" to get started. There's been no explanation as to why that might be the case but users will need to actively open up the app in order to use voice commands until further notice. That's a pretty glaring omission for an update that was supposed to bring the app in line with the rest of the Alexa-enabled devices - since it is, after all, a core function of the digital assistant. Bearing that in mind, that should arrive at some point in a future update and the addition of voice controls will likely be welcomed by those looking to try something new or to get away from Google's own services eco-system. With regard to what the newly updated Alexa can do, Android users will now be able to talk to Alexa - asking questions, play music or other media, interacting with Skills, and enacting any number of smart functions similar to what can be accomplished via Google Assistant. Presumably, that will include the ability to control at least some compatible smart home appliances and devices via voice command.
Having said that, this move to make its presence felt on Android mobiles is not necessarily new from Amazon. The company has previously partnered with several manufacturers to offer Alexa alongside Google Assistant in a more fleshed-out form. Notably, those include Motorola, Huawei, and HTC. However, this is the first push on a much wider scale so, it may still be worth a look even without the "Alexa" wake-word enabled. Anybody interested in checking it out can click the Google Play Button below.