Update from July 9th, 2020: Amazon has rolled out the hands-free function for smartphones in the Alexa app. Contrary to our expectations and those of many users, the smartphone still has to be unlocked and the Alexa app actively running in the foreground in order to be able to use the Alexa hands-free function for smartphones. Hands-free Alexa communication then works until the mobile phone switches back to power-saving mode and / or locks the screen.
Amazon Alexa hands-free on iOS and Android smartphones and tablets
The great advantage of an intelligent loudspeaker with a voice assistant is the ability to communicate on demand. Amazon achieves this by installing microphones in their devices that are permanently switched on and wait for an activation code word. In Amazon’s case this is “Alexa” followed by a voice command.
What works best in your own four walls reaches its limits on the go with your smartphone. Although Alexa is always with you on the go via the Alexa app, there are only a few hurdles to be overcome for the communication between artificial intelligence and end users. So users first have to unlock the cell phone and then start the Alexa app. Furthermore, it is necessary to press the microphone button to put the app into recording mode.
That should change in a few days. Because Amazon provides its app with a so-called hands-free function. Hands-free stands for hands-free and means nothing more than that hands are no longer needed to get in touch with Alexa. Alexa is then “always on” on the smartphone and can easily be “woken up” with an activation password.
In addition, the new Alexa-hands Free can theoretically transform Android and iOS smartphones into a mobile Echo Show speaker.
Alexa hands-free function on Android and iOS mobile devices – usage examples
A great benefit can be seen very quickly in the daily workout. While running, sports people can easily change song titles or playlists via Alexa voice command without having to make a forced stop. The Alexa voice command “Alexa, play my favorite playlist” or “Alexa, play the next song” is enough.
But the hands-free function also pays off when you’re out and about, because your hands stay on the wheel and you don’t need to use your cell phone.
Alexa hands-free function for the Alexa app – what does that mean for Amazon?
With the introduction of the hands-free function for the Alexa app, Amazon is probably fulfilling a dream. Because in contrast to its competitors Google and Apple, which also have a voice assistant on offer, Amazon does not have its own smartphone division. While the Google Assistant in Google’s Pixel smartphones can be started easily by pressing the edges of the smartphone housing together, Alexa still had to unlock the screen and start the app.
Amazon lets Alexa tunnel under its competitors with the hands-free function. This is important, because the purpose of the voice assistants is to be approachable at all times and without hurdles, as in normal “person-to-person” communication. This is the only way to increase the acceptance and use of human-machine interaction.
Alexa hands-free function for the Alexa app – availability and use
The Alexa app is updated automatically with the new hands-free function. If not, users need to update the Alexa app or actively download it from the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store.
The hands-free function itself must be activated in the Alexa app, the Alexa app must also be open on the screen and the smartphone screen must be unlocked.
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