Amazon’s voice-based digital assistant, Alexa, is now available through Apple mobile devices.
The retail giant has embedded Alexa into its iOS app, Amazon said Thursday. People with Amazon’s
app on their iPhone and iPads can use their voices to ask Alexa questions, check the weather, and order batteries directly from Amazon’s online store.
Amazon did not say when its Android app would incorporate Alexa.
Previously, people could use some of Alexa’s capabilities on their iPhones through several third-party vendors. But those apps didn’t have all of Alexa’s features like Amazon’s music streaming service.
To access Alexa on Apple devices, people must tap a small microphone icon on the Amazon app’s search bar to get Alexa to listen and respond to human voices, according to the Amazon blog post.
Still, as tech news site The Verge notes, it’s unlikely that many people will shift to Alexa from Apple’s
Siri digital assistant since Siri does not require users to manually open an app. Because Siri is directly wired to Apple’s operating system, people can just speak into their phones’ and the digital assistant will automatically respond.
For Amazon, the decision to bring Alexa to its iOS app means that the company could potentially gather more user data that it can crunch to further improve the artificial intelligence technologies powering Alexa. Like Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana digital assistant, Alexa relies on the AI technology known as deep learning, which requires access to huge amounts of data to give software the ability to do things like understand the human voice.
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In February, Huawei said its latest Mate9 smartphone would be the first mobile phone to come with Alexa directly installed, making it more similar to Apple’s Siri in that users don’t need to open an app to access the assistant.