Provocative headline on Brian Barrett’s piece for Wired on Alexa coming to the Amazon iOS app: “Siri’s Not Even the Best iPhone Assistant Anymore”:
What makes Alexa on iOS so intriguing isn’t just that it’s there,
but where. There was already an Alexa app, a rudimentary utility
that let users fiddle with the settings on their Amazon Echoes.
And there have been a handful of third-party paid apps that
brought some Alexa voice functionality to the iPhone. Now, though,
Alexa will live inside the main iOS Amazon app, one of the most
popular downloads in the entire App Store.
That puts iPhone and iPad owners just two taps away — one to open
the Amazon app, the next to activate the microphone — from a
voice assistant that doesn’t just rival Siri, but surpasses it in
significant ways. Alexa’s popularity should already be giving
Apple fits. Now it’s coming from inside the phone.
First, Alexa in the Amazon iOS app isn’t even rolled out to everyone yet. When I try it, the only voice commands I can issue are related to buying things from Amazon.
Second, it’s ridiculous to argue that Siri doesn’t have a nearly insurmountable convenience advantage. Alexa is only “two taps” away if your iPhone is already unlocked and you’re on the home screen where the Amazon app resides. From a locked iPhone, Siri can be invoked without even touching the phone (“Hey Siri…”) or with a single long-press on the home button. If you want to argue that Alexa is better overall than Siri, go ahead (and it seems clear that Alexa is better at some things), but on any given device, the only voice assistant that matters is the one that’s built into the system.
★ Friday, 17 March 2017