Amazon is making a small tweak to the Alexa companion app on iOS and Android; in a few days you’ll no longer need to tap the blue Alexa button on your screen to say a voice command, TechCrunch reports. Unfortunately, the new “hands-free” mode apparently only works if you launch the app and continuously keep it open on your phone. For me, it won’t be very useful until I can use Alexa on my iPhone without unlocking and launching it first.
If you really want a phone that allows you to use Alexa as your phone’s voice assistant, Amazon sells a bunch of co-branded “Alexa-Built In” smartphones where it partners with Android manufacturers like OnePlus, Motorola and Sony to let you wake Alexa with just your voice. If you’re like me and don’t want to ditch your iPhone, you can trick Siri to launch the Alexa app: first say “Hey Siri, open the Alexa app,” unlock your iPhone, and then you should be able to ask Alexa to do things. You won’t have to touch your iPhone if you’ve got Face ID; just give it a quick glance to unlock. You can also try Damian Mehers’ Voice in a Can app, which lets you to launch the app by saying “Alexa,” but you will need to create a Siri Shortcut.
Hands-free voice commands provide convenience to consumers who multitask or have their hands full in addition giving to people with mobility or motor impairments a more accessible way to use their devices. On Windows computers, Alexa has been hands-free since last year; Amazon’s Music App also has had a hands-free mode since 2017, allowing you to ask Alexa to play music using only your voice.
Update July 9th, 4:10PM ET: This story has been updated to include third-party app Voice in a Can.