Android and iOS users can now access Amazon Alexa AI hands-free following an update to the app, reports indicate. Summarily, that means users on either an Android device or iPhone can now access all of the AI assistant's great features without picking up their phone.
The update also changes the UI and interactions. To use the assistant prior to the update, users needed to tap an on-screen button. That button is still present and accounted for. But now, users can simply say "Alexa" and the button is replaced by an animated blue line along the bottom of the UI.
But there is one substantial caveat, for now, but there is a workaround
There are two fairly big caveats associated with this update and feature. And those are going to effectively negate the usefulness of it for many users. Namely, users need to have their device screen turned on and unlocked to access it. And the app also needs to be opened in order to use Amazon Alexa hands-free. It's still not possible to simply say "Alexa" and have the smartphone respond with this update.
Now, there are a few workarounds to the issue and at least one that renders it mostly moot. But it's not straightforward or intuitive. Of course, users could simply navigate to their device settings and set the display to never go to sleep unless the power button is pressed. Then, they'd just need to launch the app and leave it open for the duration of interactions.
Conversely, as reported by the source, it's also possible to simply launch the Alexa app using a device's built-in AI assistant. On Android, that's typically going to be Google Assistant but Siri, Bixby, and others should work too. That way, the app can be launched from effectively any screen. Then users can request Alexa to do anything it normally could.
The ability to use Amazon Alexa hands-free on Android is undoubtedly going to afford users a much more convenient experience. That's just so long as Amazon's decision regarding its AI's name doesn't cause any confusion in users' local environment. And that's bound to remain the case even with consideration for the new feature's biggest caveat.
It should be faster, at any rate. Especially where users need to engage in multiple interactions over shorter spans of time.
Hands-free Amazon Alexa will arrive much sooner than later
This change for Alexa is going to require an update to the associated app from Amazon — as opposed to arriving via server-side updates. That also means that it could take a few days to arrive for every user. But updating is straightforward enough.
New users will need to navigate to the Google Play Store on Android and search up "Amazon Alexa." Current users can find the update there as well.
Or, current Alexa users can navigate to the Google Play Store. Then, tapping the three-dash icon at the top-left-hand side of the UI will call up a menu. Selecting "My apps & games" should automatically bring up the updates tab. Users can check for the update there.