For many Alexa users, this is what’s been missing.
Google has done an amazing job creating their virtual assistant. Being able to say “Ok Google” and having nearly every question answered and every command completed, is almost too perfect. But for many of us, Google Assistant is lacking. It’s lacking something which we’ve grown accustomed to somewhere else. It’s lacking in personality. Personality is something we have grown accustomed to with Amazon’s Alexa, and Google just misses the boat.
While I can certainly appreciate the Google Assistant, and use it often, I still found myself wishing Alexa was on my phone. I found a third party app that worked rather well, and even had a widget \ . Later though, Amazon added Alexa to their own apps. The shopping app, the music app, Alexa lives inside those apps. Strangely enough, the Alexa companion app, was missing any actual Alexa functionality. It was simply there to set up and control your physical device. Luckily, that changed some time back, and suddenly, we were able to have Amazon’s complete experience, officially on our phone. But when we wanted to use that functionality, we had to go to one of those apps. Well that has changed somewhere along the way.
Users can now set Amazon Alexa as the default virtual assistant. If you have the official Amazon Alexa app installed on your phone, simply head to your settings, search “assist” and click on “Assist & voice input”. Next, at the top of your screen, you will see “Assist App” and will probably see Google listed. Press this, and you will see that Amazon Alexa is a choice.
Now, is Alexa perfect on your phone? Certainly not. This is the same assistant that is made to sit on your counter in one of many form factors, and not specifically made for your smartphone. If you ask her for directions to your local Starbucks, she will tell you the time it will take to get there via certain routes, but she won’t give you turn by turn directions, or open your map app. Not yet anyway. The app will however make phone calls, even to other Alexa devices using the Alexa calling feature, send text messages, and play music from your preselected music streaming service. These are functions which most third party apps were not able to fully utilize.
Actually, setting Alexa as the default assistant has given me the best of both worlds. With a simple long press of the home button, I have the complete functionality I’m used to when at home, on me at all times. At the same time, with the Google widget at the top of my screen, the Google Assistant is there to do any of those tasks which Alexa might not be fully prepared for.