Earlier this week, Amazon enabled Alexa integration on the iPhone by building voice recognition straight into the standard Amazon App. But now, Huawei is going one step further with a new standalone Alexa app that can eliminate the need to own an Amazon Echo or Dot speaker.
This development is a result of a promise Huawei made back at CES 2017 to bring Alexa integration to its flagship phablet, the Huawei Mate 9. The Mate 9 Alexa essentially adds another device that can listen and respond to voice commands just like an Amazon Echo would.
That means instead of buying a Alexa device for every room of your house, you could just use your phone instead. And since the Mate 9 Alexa app can work across multiple Mate 9s, it possible for every member of the family to have Alexa in their pocket at all times.
The Mate 9 Alexa app functions much like an Echo speaker, meaning you could use voice commands to control your lights, order a pizza, buy something on Amazon or more. But there's a couple important caveats.
For one, the Mate 9 app isn't always listening. To get things started, you need to tap the app on your phone before saying Alexa and proceeding with voice commands as normal.
The other caveat is that you can't use Mate 9 Alexa app to control things on the phone itself, like sending messages or playing music. For that you'll have to rely on the Google Assistant, which will continue to operate side by side with the Mate 9 Alexa app.
This new app is just one more way for Amazon's Alexa to extend its reach as the premier voice assistant, although the lack of always-on listening and deeper phone integration is definitely disappointing.
Still, if you're a Mate 9 owner, this app can deliver almost a full Alexa experience without needing to buy one of Amazon's $50 or $100 speakers, and that's pretty good.