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Amazon Tap Is Now Hands-Free: No Need To Push Any Buttons, Just Say ‘Alexa’

9 February 2017, 8:32 pm EST By Carl Velasco Tech Times
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Amazon has confirmed that Tap, its only smart speaker without an always-on feature, will receive an update that gains it such a functionality. This means Tap owners won’t need to push a button anymore to activate Alexa.   ( Amazon )

Amazon Tap, the only smart speaker from Amazon that requires the push of a button to make commands, is now joining its voice-triggered siblings.

Your Amazon Doesn't Need To Be Touched Anymore

Amazon is now rolling out a new update for the speaker in question into a functioning, always-on speaker, letting users bring up Amazon's voice assistant, Alexa, and have it function at only the sound of their voice. The updated Tap with the hands-free mode can be enabled via the Alexa app for iOS and Android, and it requires Tap to be connected to a Wi-Fi network.

Amazon first launched Tap last year, which was the same time it announced Echo Dot, a more minimized iteration of its full-fledged smart speaker, Echo. The Tap, however, doesn't sport the same omnidirectional microphone array as the Echo, and it comes with a button that users need to push just to activate Alexa, a hurdle that led users into thinking that Tap wasn't as useful and functional as the Echo, The Verge notes.

But The Tap's Battery Takes The Toll

Additionally, the Tap was also created with portability in mind, which means its battery depletes over time, while the Echo lineup can be plugged in and therefore boast always-on Alexa support, a battery-exhaustive feature in the context of portable devices.

Amazon says that even with the new always-on functionality of Tap, it should cough up around eight hours of continuous battery life, and it can enter sleep mode by pressing the power button, which presumably causes the device's juice to deplete more slowly.

Tap will also be able to take advantage of what Amazon calls "echo spatial perception" or a fancy phrase that means that if a user has two or more Alexa-enabled devices inside a given area, the device that's closest to the speaking source is the one that'll shoulder the command, accomplishing the task barked at it.

How To Get The Amazon Tap Update

Amazon says all Tap devices should automatically receive the update in the coming weeks. Once received, users need to bring up the Alexa mobile app — also try updating the app just to be sure — and hit settings. Enable the hands-free option, and that's basically it. You can now talk to Alexa on your Tap without having to touch the device at all. To emphasize, though, this will likely drain the Tap's battery more quickly, as it requires the microphone to continuously pick up sounds.

While the update spells bad news for the Tap's battery life, offering voice-triggered access is a natural fit for the speaker, since having to push a button to perform voice commands defeats the purpose entirely. So it only comes as a welcome change that Tap is now more like its siblings.

The Amazon Tap is currently on sale for $130.

But all told, there's clearly an elephant in the room. With the device now featuring an always-on, always-listening functionality, it obviously should not be called "Tap" anymore, should it? Any new names you have in mind? Feel free to sound off in the comments section below!

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