After Android users gained the ability to control Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant through a dedicated app five months ago, Amazon is bringing identical functionality to iOS, turning an iPhone or iPad into a virtual Echo device.
The latest update to Alexa’s iOS app delivers long-awaited voice control to the virtual assistant software. Previously, the app was relegated to interactions with Amazon Echo speakers, for example setting up a new device or placing calls to other users.
With the latest update, Alexa acts more like a full-fledged smart assistant. Users are able to select the dedicated Alexa button — a text bubble-like icon — and use their voice to control smart home appliances, play music, check the weather, ask general queries and more.
Much like an Echo device, the Alexa app connects to offsite servers to carry out processing.
Due to Apple’s control over hardware access, Alexa is unable to monitor for wake words, meaning users must use the app’s GUI to input a command or query. Still, voice interactions imbue the app with a sense of familiarity for existing Echo device owners. More importantly for Amazon, Alexa on iOS gives iPhone and iPad users a portable and direct line of communication with the virtual assistant.
Amazon initially promised voice support for Alexa’s iOS app in January after rolling out a similar feature on Android.