If you want to use Amazon’s voice-based assistant Alexa, you’ve got to purchase an Echo, Tap, or Echo Dot speaker for your home. That’s changing though: Taking the opposite approach of Google and its digital assistant, Amazon’s Alexa is moving from the home, to your phone.
Huawei was the first to announce a smartphone with built-in Alexa capabilities, its upcoming Mate 9. Today Motorola (now owned by Lenovo) joins the ranks. Moto Z owners will soon also be able to summon Alexa from their handsets.
Using the Amazon Alexa Moto Mod, you’ll be able to get the news, control smart home devices from afar, and order an Uber using your phone. The Moto Z is a modular phone, so this particular mod will be a physical purchase you’ll have to attach to the phone when it goes on sale later in 2017. In the blog post announcing the partnership, Motorola also notes that later this year, Alexa will be built into its phones, and you’ll be able to make Alexa requests without even needing to unlock your phone.
Amazon has taken the reverse approach of other digital assistants such as Apple’s Siri and Google Assistant (and its predecessor, Google Now). Both of these companies first started with integrating an assistant into phones, then moved to the living room: Google branched out and added it to its Google Home products, while Apple added Siri smarts to its Apple TV set-top box.
Amazon has had little success with its smartphone attempts (it quit selling the Fire Phone in September 2015), so instead, it looked to create a companion product smartphone owners could get behind. Rather than making a phone itself, it’s partnering with existing smartphone makers to expand the reach of its assistant—and unseat Google’s dominance there in the Android space.
Undoubtedly, we’ll see more phones begin to integrate Alexa in the future.