Enlarge (credit: Valentina Palladino)
Google Now isn’t the only digital assistant available on Huawei’s Mate 9 anymore.
Today, the company announced an over-the-air update that will bring Amazon’s Alexa to all Mate 9 smartphones.
The move comes not even a week after Amazon updated its Shopping app for iOS to include Alexa, allowing Apple smartphone users access to the assistant even if they don’t own an Alexa-enabled Amazon device.
Alexa won’t interfere with Google Now, the default digital assistant on Android smartphones, primarily because using Alexa on a Mate 9 requires two apps: the Huawei Alexa app and the Amazon Alexa app.
The Amazon Alexa is necessary when you buy an Echo, Tap, or other Amazon smart home device, and without a device, it lets you install Alexa Skills and set preferences for the digital assistant. Huawei’s Alexa app, on the other hand, is simply a controller—you need to launch this app before you can ask Alexa anything.
This is similar to how Alexa works on an iOS device: you need to open the Amazon Shopping app, tap the microphone button, and then wake Alexa with a command.
Both tout the on-the-go usage of Alexa thanks to this kind of integration, but while you can use Alexa anywhere you can bring your smartphone, it’s certainly not a hands-free service. Huawei hasn’t ruled out the possibility of hotword recognition, which would allow the handset to “hear” you asking Alexa for help even when the app isn’t open, but that feature isn’t available right now.
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