Amazon is Taking the Bold Step of Adding Alexa to its Alexa App

Posted on January 20, 2018 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Cloud, iOS, Mobile, Smart Home with 20 Comments

Amazon is Taking the Bold Step of Adding Alexa to its Alexa App

The word “courage” is often bandied about too easily these days. This is a great example of that.

Amazon is rolling out a new version of its Alexa mobile app that—get this—actually lets customers interact with its Alexa personal digital assistant. As you may know, the Google Assistant and Microsoft Cortana apps already provide this functionality for those companies’ assistants. And you might have understandably assumed that the Alexa app did, too.


“The free Amazon Alexa App is a companion to your Alexa device for setup, remote control, and enhanced features,” the app’s description still reads on the Google Play Store. “Alexa is always ready to play your favorite music, provide weather and news updates, answer questions, create lists, and much more. Alexa’s brain is in the cloud, so she continually learns and adds more functionality over time. The more you use Alexa, the more she adapts to your speech patterns, vocabulary, and personal preferences.”

In other words, the Alexa app was available—required, actually—to set up and configure an Echo device. That is all it did.

Well, that is changing: A new version of the Alexa app, available now only in Amazon’s AppStore for Android (yes, it’s still a thing), actually lets you interact directly with Alexa. From the app. What a concept.

Well, maybe. Android Police is reporting that an update to the Alexa app, available from Amazon’s AppStore, provides this functionality. If you look at the app listing, however, it still says the same thing that the app description says over at Google: “Alexa App is a companion to your Amazon Echo, Dot, Tap and Show for setup, remote control, and enhanced features.”

So … it’s coming. And you may get the update if you get the app from Amazon instead of Google. (Which may require some silly configuration changes on your Android phone, since the Amazon AppStore for Android is an “unknown source.”)

I assume this capability will arrive via the Google Play Store and—gasp!—Apple’s App Store eventually too. We should all be this brave.


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Comments (20)

20 responses to “Amazon is Taking the Bold Step of Adding Alexa to its Alexa App”

  1. glenn8878

    Get this- I already knew this. There’s no confusion. I also have Siri and Google Assistant on my iPhone and I hardly ever use it. I use my Echo a lot more even if it’s just to play music.

  2. feedtheshark

    You alright Paul? This is a particularly snide article even for you. Nice to see Amazon continuing to make Alexa more useful.

  3. seapea

    I dislike the Alexa app on the Kindle Fire and the one for Android phones , but really like the browser interface. So since my Alexa devices are at home, i just use my pc to do my non-voice interaction with them.

  4. red.radar

    Good to see that Amazon is addressing this , because it was truely bizzare that the Alexa app on IOS/Android you cannot talk to alexa. I was dumbfounded when I was trying to use it that to activate Alexa voice assistant I had to go into the Amazon shopping app and hit the voice button in the search bar.

    ... really bizarre

  5. petteyg359

    "In other words, the Alexa app was available—required, actually—to set up and configure an Echo device. That is all it did." It also controls the music playlist, volume, links your contacts so you can call another person's Echo using their name, and shows your shopping list items while you're at the grocery store, among other things. Try not to make ridiculous exaggerations of inadequacy.

  6. harmjr

    They also added Alexa to the Android Amazon Music app in the bottom left hand corner. Thought it was just music but it will answer other questions...

  7. Stooks

    I assumed it did as well. However since I have no desire to use the Amazon or Google assistants I don't really care. I use an iPhone and since I can't make either the default and Siri works for what I use it for there is no need to bother.

    All of these "assistants" have a the 3D TV feel about them. Will they be all the rage in 2 years?

  8. jrickel96

    The 3.7% of Android users in the US that have it installed must be thrilled.

    While you can configure Android for whichever assistant you like, few are going to switch to Alexa or Cortana. Hardly anyone is going to go to the effort of changing the Home button action.. I did when I used Android - and then I never used it anyways.

    This will probably play strongest to Kindle Fire users that are deep in Amazon's ecosystem. But with nearly 50% of US smartphone users on iPhone and the bulk of the smartphone money spent on that end, the impact is negligible because none of these things will be easy to use on iPhone.

  9. SvenJ

    Showed up yesterday, automatically, on my Pixel (pretty full on Google). Not on iOS (yet). Never bothered me that you couldn't invoke Alexa from the phone. If I'm home, there are plenty of things that respond when I say 'Alexa'. When I'm out, I have other ways to turn on my lights or set my thermostat, etc. To me it was always a settings app, and there are a lot more things you can set than with Google, Apple or MS.

  10. dcdevito

    Alexa is the Amiga of digital assistants

  11. goodbar

    I have the change, but you still need to launch the app and hit the Alexa button to talk to her. You cannot yet set Alexa as your default assistant though.

  12. Angusmatheson

    i do think of the ways it is natural to use a voice Assistant the phone - or watch or some other mobile device - seems like a very natural one. Google and Apple have that - windows and Alexa do not. I might be wrong but I think it will be easier for google and Apple to crack the home speaker market than it will be for amazon to crack the phone market - especially given that they tried and gave up. The whole point of ambient computing is to be with you everywhere. Only a mobile device can do that. Making an Alexa app that gives you access on your phone is of course the first step - but I suspect both Apple and google will make it harder and harder not to use their own assistants - as it is becoming clear natural language assistants are the next platform.

  13. arndtgale

    Already working on the Google App store version.

  14. jbuccola

    Confusingly, Alexa functionality was already available on the _Amazon_ app.

    Amazon isn't new to odd app/interface paradigms; curiously, one can't rent/buy content from the _Amazon Prime Video_ app. Instead, you are directed to "Add to Watchlist", migrate over to the _Amazon_ app, search for the video, process the transaction, then return to the Prime Video app where you can now access your show from your Watchlist.

    See how easy that is?

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