Thanks to a new feature rolled out by Amazon in July, you can now use the Alexa app hands-free. While it’s not perfect, it’s a big step forward in making Alexa more convenient on smartphones. Plus, it’s nice to be able to switch Echo devices remotely using just your voice.
Before you get too enthusiastic, the functionality is not yet perfect. In fact, users who automatically lock their phones when the screen times out are unlikely to benefit much from this feature.
Currently, to use the Alexa hands-free app, you must leave the screen unlocked. However, it’s easy to change your settings to manually lock your device. On Android devices, go to Settings and choose Display.
Press “Screen timeout” and select “Keep screen on”.
For iPhones, go to Settings and “Display & Brightness”. Press “Auto-lock” and select Never.
Remember that you will have to manually lock your phone or the screen will not turn off. And you should always lock your screen if you are not using your device because anyone can easily access what is on your phone.
The other problem is that you will have to keep the Alexa app open. Obviously, you won’t be keeping the app open all the time. If you’ve enabled a default voice assistant on your phone and your phone is unlocked, use your preferred voice assistant to open the Alexa app. If Alexa is your default, you won’t need to keep the Alexa app open. You can also open the app with Google Assistant and Siri.
Use the Alexa app hands-free
First of all, if you are going through this process and you don’t have the option to activate the feature, you might not have it yet. Amazon just started rolling out the feature in July 2020, so it’s not yet available on all devices. Check your app store for updates.
Also, if you already have a device with hands-free Alexa enabled by default, this option is already enabled and you don’t have to do anything. You can test it to see by opening the app and asking Alexa a question. If there is no response, it is not enabled by default.
To activate the feature, open your Alexa app.
Tap the Alexa icon at the bottom center.
You will be prompted to activate the new feature with a window saying “Use Alexa Hands-Free” Just press “Activate”.
If you haven’t already, you’ll also be prompted to allow Alexa to access your microphone and your location. You can easily revoke these permissions later if you want.
Once complete, you will no longer have to tap the Alexa icon to talk to Alexa. Just say “Hey alexa” or “Alexa“to interact. As long as the app is open and your screen is unlocked, you can communicate without touching anything.
Benefits of hands-free mode
Hands-free use of the Alexa app is useful if you have your hands full, for example while cooking. It is also ideal if you are busy but want to randomly check in at home. You can go remotely using the app on your Echo devices at home.
It is also useful if you are using your smartphone or tablet as the primary Alexa device. It works well if you have an old phone or tablet that you don’t use anymore. As long as the latest Alexa app is compatible, you can place the device in a central location in any room you are in and use it to ask questions, play games, and more.
While the restrictions don’t make it as useful as it could be, there are some advantages to hands-free mode. Most people will probably only use this feature occasionally, but that means more voice control and less screen tapping.
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