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Amazon's Alexa App Gains 'Hands-Free' Voice Activation Feature

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Amazon is making it possible to use Alexa "hands free" from within its Alexa mobile app for iOS, reports TechCrunch.


Up until now, you had to tap the blue Alexa button at the bottom of the screen before you could issue a voice command.

After updating the app, users will be able to simply speak to Alexa to make lists, control smart home devices, and more, without having to touch their iPhone.

While Amazon calls it "hands free," it's not like you'll be able to invoke the company's digital voice assistant if your phone is locked or when you're in another app.

What users will be able to do, however, is ask Siri to open the Amazon Alexa app, and then they can start using the new hands-free experience from there.

After updating the app, users will be presented with the option to enable the hands-free detection and can then begin to use the feature. According to TechCrunch, a setting is also being made available that will allow users to turn the feature off at any time.

Amazon says the feature is rolling out over the next several days to users worldwide on both iOS and Android.

Article Link: Amazon's Alexa App Gains 'Hands-Free' Voice Activation Feature
 

neuroleone

macrumors newbie
Jan 9, 2006
14
5
Mumbai,India
Hmmm. This is interesting with the addition of back taps in iOS 14.

edit: seems to work fine opening the app, I guess the Alexa update is not live yet in my region.
 
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Akrapovic

macrumors 6502a
Aug 29, 2018
835
1,669
Scotland
With the back taps this basically means you can set Alexa as the default app. Or use Siri on the side button, Alexa on back taps etc.
 
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Caliber26

macrumors 68020
Sep 25, 2009
2,063
2,167
Orlando, FL
Meh. If I’m gonna have to grab my phone to unlock it so Siri can launch the Alexa app, I might as well just go ahead and tap the Alexa button myself.

I’d much rather for Amazon to rebuild the app from the ground up because, as it is right now, it’s got to be one of the worst experiences about the Alexa ecosystem. I love Alexa (she’s infinitely better than Siri) and I love my Echos. But I loathe the app.
 
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CordovaLark

macrumors member
Mar 12, 2018
98
101
Pretty much another AI that will bypass Siri in the near future, if it hasn't happened already.
 
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Gorms

macrumors 6502a
Aug 30, 2012
553
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UK
With the back taps this basically means you can set Alexa as the default app. Or use Siri on the side button, Alexa on back taps etc.

I was going to say what a pointless UX this is and moan about how no one would ever use this. However, this really does address that issue and actually makes it seemingly mostly usable? Although I take it back taps don't work in locked state so that issue still remains?
 
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Akrapovic

macrumors 6502a
Aug 29, 2018
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I was going to say what a pointless UX this is and moan about how no one would ever use this. However, this really does address that issue and actually makes it seemingly mostly usable? Although I take it back taps don't work in locked state so that issue still remains?

The back taps are an accessibility feature, so I imagine the goal is that eventually these are opened up to work on the lock screen.

I have a feeling that Apple is using the back taps as a double positive. Increasing accessibility (something Apple already does pretty well anyway), and adding enough functionality to it that you can reasonably argue "We don't lock down our phones - look, you can use Alexa or Google! Just double tap!". And that also means they can keep Siri on the main button, so you don't fully replace that...which works in Apples favour.

This back tap gesture could be very cleverly placed.
 
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szw-mapple fan

macrumors 68020
Jul 28, 2012
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Another nail in the coffin of Siri

How so? This is basically an activate on app launch feature like you can have in Shazam. It's one less tap but it is still not hands-free. A lot of Siri's most power features lie with Shortcuts, which neither Google nor Amazon offers anything similar.
 
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AlliFlowers

Contributor
Jan 1, 2011
4,527
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L.A. (Lower Alabama)
I love it. Because our home is platform agnostic (as my husband is a fAndroid), Alexa rules the roost. Locks, lights, TVs, everything is controlled by Alexa.
 
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sinsin07

macrumors 68040
Mar 28, 2009
3,525
2,442
To bad Apple TV isn't hands free.
Can turn on/off most things, like TV, lights etc with just a voice but still need to pickup ATV remote to turn it on or ask for information.
 
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nylonsteel

macrumors 65816
Nov 5, 2010
1,311
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i might have to try this app
hate yelling alexa 10+ across the room
throat gets sore after a while
 
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LeeW

macrumors 68020
Feb 5, 2017
2,093
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Glasgow, Scotland
I’d much rather for Amazon to rebuild the app from the ground up because, as it is right now, it’s got to be one of the worst experiences about the Alexa ecosystem. I love Alexa (she’s infinitely better than Siri) and I love my Echos. But I loathe the app.

Agreed, I loathe having to go into the app to do anything.

hate yelling alexa 10+ across the room
throat gets sore after a while

I know some people struggle with this but I have never had an issue with voice activation or it understanding me.
 
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Lazy_Lightning

macrumors newbie
Sep 8, 2017
14
1
Any idea why an app developed by a huge company like Amazon has no "long press" options? I'd rather have that with a shortcut to things like the voice command.
 
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Aston441

macrumors 68000
Sep 16, 2014
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2,300
It would be nice to swap out Siri for Alexa. Siri is decent for basic tasks but Alexas is a couple levels ahead in terms of having an actual conversation.


This times one million.

Alexa is the automation in my life, my music, my everything.

Siri is completely useless.

Apple should just pay for the rights to Alexa and swap out Siri until it's ready for prime time
 
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Akrapovic

macrumors 6502a
Aug 29, 2018
835
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Scotland
This times one million.

Alexa is the automation in my life, my music, my everything.

Siri is completely useless.

Apple should just pay for the rights to Alexa and swap out Siri until it's ready for prime time

Amazon has tried to get into the consumer hardware market with phones and tablets and largely failed beyond the Kindle for dedicated E-Reading (remember the terrible Fire Phone?). The Alexa brand is the one which has gotten them in there. No chance they're selling it to Apple. And no chance Apple are buying it because if the privacy issues.

Siri is crap, but your best bet is just using Alexa with this back tap to activate for now.
 
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slcoss

macrumors newbie
Sep 3, 2008
28
1
Why would anyone use this? Or any Alexa device?

edit: so many disagree yet no offers of explanations why

Well, Echo devices are a lot cheaper than the Homepod (299 vs 99), and the Echo devices have big discounts very often, which means you can buy several for your home (I have 3 devices) without breaking the bank.

Also, Alexa and Google Assistant have a lot more devices in the Smart Home front than Siri, and the ones that are Homekit compatible are usually more expensive than those that are Alexa compatible.

I would gladly set Alexa as my default voice assistant on my iPhone if I could, then I would be able to run home routines while away from home a lot easier. Example, I live in the mexican desert, so this week we have highs of 50 Celsius (that's 122 Fahrenheit), and I hate coming home to an oven so I turn on my AC when I'm heading home.
 
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hagar

macrumors 6502a
Jan 19, 2008
881
1,786
Why would anyone use this? Or any Alexa device?

edit: so many disagree yet no offers of explanations why
Because Siri is infuriatingly stupid. I’m not using her in the car anymore because she is so stupid, I’m affraid I would drive off a cliff one day out of frustration. Sending messages, asking directions, getting the weather, turning off the lights...it all works fine one moment, and the next she switches off her brain. It’s like Siri is operated by actual people, and they all work with different scripts and produce different results.
 
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ChineseBots

macrumors member
Mar 13, 2019
53
46
what's so great about an in-app hands free function when you need to launch the app first💀
 
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hagar

macrumors 6502a
Jan 19, 2008
881
1,786
what's so great about an in-app hands free function when you need to launch the app first💀
The moment Apple allows to set another assistant as the default, many users will do so. It’s a only a matter of time.
 
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