Amazon is about to let anyone with an iPhone talk to its Alexa virtual assistant. By pressing the microphone button in Amazon’s shopping app, users will be able to purchase items, play music, check the weather, ask trivia questions, and control smart home devices by voice. (Some of those skills will require setup in the separate Alexa app or website.) The update should roll out over the next week.
While we’ve seen some third-party apps try to offer Alexa in the past, they’ve had limited capabilities and slower response times than the Amazon Echo speaker. Amazon’s own app promises the full Alexa experience—except that you’ll have to unlock your phone, open an app, and press a button before barking out a command. Smartphones with slicker Alexa integration are on the way, but it’s safe to assume the iPhone won’t be among them.