With Google Assistant expanding its remit beyond Pixel smartphones to Android Marshmallow and Nougat devices, Amazon has taken steps to ensure its own voice-activated AI personal assistant does not get left in the dust. In doing so, however, Alexa is on a collision course with Apple's chatty iPhone companion, Siri.
Alexa's covert infiltration of iOS devices comes courtesy of an update to the Amazon Shopping app, with the Amazon Echo smart speaker assistant now able to help with online purchases and issue Alexa commands.
While Amazon's assistant already had a place on iPhone via an official companion app for set-up and remote control of Alexa-enabled devices, the Shopping app update lets users talk to Alexa on-the-go, complete with its usual repertoire of question and answer tools and music playback commands.
In addition, when used in conjunction with the Alexa app, hundreds of third-party extensions – dubbed 'Skills' – will offer optional features such as smart home controls to ordering an Uber.
Accessing Alexa using the Amazon Shopping app on iOS will be as simple as tapping the microphone symbol within the in-app search bar. The update is scheduled to roll out in the coming weeks in the US, with other regions expected to follow shortly after. Amazon has yet to specify whether or not Alexa will also be added to the equivalent Android app.
As Alexa on iPhone is tucked away inside the Shopping app, Siri still has the clear advantage of being front and centre on Apple's ever-popular smartphone. Unlike its Echo speaker counterpart, Alexa's wake words will fall on deaf ears on iPhone, making the hands-free 'Hey Siri' a much quicker option for voice-assistant needs.
It is worth noting that this is not the first time Alexa has graced a smartphone. Huawei's Mate 9 carries a full-fledged version of Alexa, but only in the US. Oddly, the Mate 9 will also integrate Google Assistant as part of its wider rollout, meaning both Alexa and Google Assistant will be available to US owners at the same time.