Siri on iOS just became bedfellows with a major voice assistant competitor. Amazon has finally brought Alexa to iOS devices by virtue of its shopping app. This gives iOS users access to Alexa's many features anywhere, anytime.
Some iOS users may already have the dedicated Alexa app for iOS installed, but that's mostly for managing Alexa-enabled devices such as the Echo. This new integration with the Amazon app will let users bark orders at Alexa even when an Echo device isn't within proximity.
Amazon Alexa Finally Arrives On iOS
Amazon confirmed that the updated Amazon Shop app will hit the iTunes App Store starting Thursday, March 16, with the wide rollout to be completed sometime next week. The update will relegate Alexa to a little microphone icon inside the Amazon Shop app. When users tap the icon, Alexa can perform tasks just as it would on Amazon's Echo line of smart speakers.
What You Can Do With Alexa On iOS
Ask it for stuff to purchase and add to the shopping list, stream music, read Kindle books out loud, check the weather, ask for a joke, and more, thanks to Amazon's broad library of Alexa Skills.
The regular Amazon Alexa app for iOS will still be used for settings, managing Alexa-enabled devices, and such, but the Amazon Shop app will now be the centerpoint for Alexa. Why Amazon opted to equip its shopping app Alexa features instead of the main Alexa app is still a bit unclear, but that's beside the point. Many will probably revel about the fact that Alexa is now easily accessible on iOS.
The integration is currently available for iOS only, at least for now. Amazon did confirm in an email to Business Insider that it's developing a version of Android devices as well, though it failed to specify an exact release schedule.
The update adds to Amazon's growing inroads in making Alexa more widely available. While its Echo devices are the foremost bearers of the Alexa voice assistant, it's showing up in an increasing number of third-party devices and even applications. In January Huawei announced plans to incorporate Alexa into its Mate 9 flagship, and it followed through.
Moreover, the number of skills for Alexa has also significantly grown over the past year, now with more than 10,000 available to use, though not all of them are functional, to be clear. All told, the move is a wise one from Amazon, especially in a time where formidable tech companies such as Google, Apple, and Microsoft are intent on developing their proprietary voice assistant technology and push it out to as many people as possible. Google recently opened up Assistant to all Android phones running Nougat or Marshmallow, after having been locked exclusively to its pair of Pixel phones.
Watch Out, Siri
Moving the complete feature set of Alexa over to iOS also presents trouble spots for Siri, which is considerably less alluring than Alexa is. Siri, however, is getting progressively smarter, but Apple needs to determine at exactly what pace should Siri be smarter moving forward in order to trounce Alexa in the tough and competitive arena of voice assistants.
Alexa's presence on iOS could make people more comfortable using it altogether. But Siri is still iOS's primary voice assistant, which makes notions of total Alexa domination on iOS seem like a steep end goal. But Amazon has to hope that it's a start.
The Amazon shopping app is available on iTunes for free.