Amazon has updated its Alexa mobile app for Android and iOS devices with anticipated “hands free” support. As its name suggests, the new addition is designed to let users activate Alexa on their mobile devices by directly using their voice. The latest change works similar to how you access Alexa on your Echo device. This means that you no longer need to wake up the digital assistant by tapping the blue Alexa button on the app — the process that existed up until now.
With the new update, you just need to ask Google Assistant on your Android phone or Siri on your iPhone to open the Alexa app to begin with the hands free experience. This is unlike the earlier experience in which you were required to open the app and then tap the blue Alexa button.
You can pass on queries such as, “Alexa, remind me to call Mom at 12 pm tomorrow” or “Alexa, add rice to my shopping list” after enabling the hands free experience.
Having said that, there’s still a catch. You need to unlock your phone and still require to open the Alexa app to launch the assistant. This means that you aren’t able to use Alexa just as how you use the default assistant (read Google Assistant or Siri — depending on your phone).
A handful of smartphones including the Moto X4 did enable the hands free experience through the preloaded Alexa app in the past, however you could use the feature even with the phone locked.
Amazon has said that the new experience is available for both Android and iOS devices through the latest Alexa app. You can find the Enable Alexa Hands Free option by going to Settings > Device Settings > Alexa on This Phone. The same procedure can be followed to disable the hands free addition. The feature was initially reported by TechCrunch.
Once enabled, you’ll find an animated blue bar at the bottom of your phone’s screen shortly after the app detects the Alexa hotword. This indicates that the digital assistant is streaming your request to the cloud.