What happens now that Alexa is on the iPhone?
In a move onto Siri’s turf, Amazon has added Alexa to its iOS shopping app, letting users chat with the virtual assistant through an iPhone or iPad.
Alexa users will need to open the Amazon app and then press a microphone icon to converse with Alexa. Previously, the microphone icon allowed voice commands to be used to search for products and check up on orders, but the update provides access to almost all of the capabilities of Amazon’s speaker devices such as the Echo, Dot and Tap.
Beyond shopping-related queries, the voice assistant can provide weather forecasts, tell jokes, answer questions, play music, read a Kindle book and control home automation devices. Well ahead of competing AI assistants, Alexa has over 10,000 skills including the ability to lead interactive games such as The Magic Door and Jeopardy that have earned raves with tech bloggers.
The capabilities will be available to iPhone users sometime this week. No date was given for an Android version of Alexa.
The move brings Alexa to the broad audience of iPhone users while adding mobility and scale. The Alexa experience improves the more it learns about each user.
One advantage for Apple is that it takes a few steps to open the Amazon app and connect with Alexa. With an iPhone, simply saying ‘Hey Siri’ activates the AI without touching the screen. Google Assistant works similarly on Android phones.
“Alexa does great at controlling your lights, but unless Amazon can learn more about how you spend the rest of your day, it’s going to have a hard time keeping up with Google’s ubiquity, or even Apple’s hardware dominance,” wrote Brian Barrett for Wired.
Some also feel owning the hardware will always be a plus. Wrote Arjun Kharpal for CNBC, “Apple’s Siri arguably has an advantage on the iPhone because it is deeply integrated with the software on the phone and can be used to control or open certain apps, link with smart home devices, and is tied closer to Apple’s overall ecosystem.”
- Amazon is now in the Amazon app – Amazon.com
- Amazon brings Alexa to the iPhone – Verge
- iPhone users can now access Amazon’s Alexa on the go – Ars Technica
- Amazon puts Alexa inside its main iPhone app – VentureBeat
- Siri’s Not Even the Best iPhone Assistant Anymore – Wired
- Siri vs Alexa: Amazon brings its voice assistant to the iPhone – CNBC
- Watch out, Siri, Amazon Alexa is now available on the iPhone – TechRepublic
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What will Amazon gain by making Alexa available on iPhones? Do you see mobility, access to a broader audience or scale as the biggest benefit? Do Apple and Google hold an overwhelming advantage because they own the hardware?