It’s hard to stand out amongst the competition, so when HTC turns to the enemy of their enemies to have their own voice assistant it makes perfect sense.
Amazon Alexa is now available for download on the recently released HTC U11. The voice assistant is best known as part of the Amazon Echo, it was designed for the home and had a cylindrical shape and dark design. It is primarily intended for use at home, but that looks to change with this release, the mobile version is currently called HTC Alexa. An awkwardly isolating title for a platform that desperately needs to spread across more platforms. It contains most of the features present on its homely counterpart.
However, it comes with a few caveats. First off, it doesn’t replace activate upon long-pressing the home button, which is still dedicated to Google Assistant, instead, it focuses on voice commands, locked or unlocked. You can also activate it by squeezing the phone or by pressing the traditional app icon. As you open up the application it first presents you with a notification bar to use the voice assistant as well as a collection of suggested voice commands. Much like the stationary device, this one has a neat set of commands: you can purchase and track products from Amazon, listen to audiobooks and Kindle books, or control your smart home devices. There are also a bunch of other skills, so if you’re the owner of an HTC U11 and interested in Alexa we suggest you look through the skills on the official list.
But, there are a few caveats. The assistant is limited in its mobile abilities due to its origin, the home oriented features have carried over to the HTC U11. Unlike Google Assistant, you cannot control Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, nor can you get directions through Google Maps. But perhaps most evidently, you can’t get more information about what’s on your screen or simply type your command. It’s all by voice. Because of this, there appears to be little incentive to make the switch from one of the competition’s superior mobile alternatives if you’re not used to Amazon’s ecosystem.
All of this being said, Amazon is unlikely to leave the mobile users without any updates. Though Alexa is one of the most popular smart home devices, its voice controlled nature perfectly tailors to the mobile user. With more sophisticated hardware and voice recognition algorithms, not to mention the inevitable ability to control via natural language, Amazon will want the Alexa experience to spread from your kitchen to your pocket. Google has already launched Google Home, which directly competes with Amazon Alexa for the right to control your smart home devices. In light of this, Amazon needs to continue pushing into the mobile space and ensure those users don’t get a lackluster experience.