The smart Alexa virtual assistant from Amazon has been freed of the bonds of speakers like the Echo — sort of. The decidedly female voice now lives in an app for Android and iOS devices called Roger.
Roger, with the tagline "talk more," is a voice messaging platform — like texting, but with your voice, walkie-talkie style. I used to call that talking on the phone, but I guess this way you get to avoid all those awkward silences during the back and forth. I used Roger to have a conversation with the app's version of Chewbacca and I was able to send a voice recording to a non-Roger user. I also had a few words with Amazon's Alexa.
The setup was as simple as clicking the Link button next to Alexa in the Roger app, and then entering my Amazon username and password to introduce the two to each other. You must tap the microphone button before and after you speak. Then you wait, sometimes for many seconds. When Alexa responds, you're prompted to touch the big circle in the middle of the screen. Next to that circle sits a little red square indicating how many seconds long Alexa's response will be.
I successfully added cheese to my shopping list, listened to a joke, learned how tall the Eiffel Tower is and checked today's weather. However, via Roger, Alexa could not connect to my Spotify account or read me my Audible book (despite telling me she was going to read it to me).
All the touching and the delays were far more annoying than what I experienced reviewing the Amazon Tap. But, the more addicted I get to Alexa, the more appealing it is to have her with me at all times. Perhaps Roger will fix the current functional limitations soon.
As Alexa enters more and more devices, she will definitely give voice-driven assistants like Siri and Cortana a run for their money. For now, I'm not sure whether to call the sentient being Roger, Alexa or Skynet, but I, for one, welcome our smart assistant overlords.
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