Thanks to a new feature being rolled out by Amazon in July, you can now use the Alexa app hands-free. While it’s not perfect, it is a great step toward making Alexa more convenient on smartphones. Plus, it’s nice to be able to drop in on Echo devices remotely using just your voice.
A Few Restrictions
Before you get too excited, the feature isn’t exactly perfect yet. In fact, users who lock their phones automatically when the screen times out probably won’t get much use out of this feature.
Currently, to use the Alexa App hands-free, you have to 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.
Tap “Screen timeout” and select “Keep screen turned on.”
For iPhones, go to Settings and “Display & Brightness.” Tap “Auto-Lock” and select Never.
Remember, you’ll need to manually lock your phone or the screen won’t turn off. And you should always lock your screen if you’re not using your device, as anyone can access what’s on your phone easily.
The other issue is you’ll need to keep the Alexa app open. Obviously, you won’t keep the app open all the time. If you’ve enabled a default voice assistant on your phone and the phone’s unlocked, use your chosen voice assistant to open the Alexa app. If Alexa is your default, you won’t need to keep the Alexa app open. You can open the app with Google Assistant and Siri, too.
Use Alexa App Hands-Free
First of all, if you go through this process and don’t have the option to turn the feature on, you might not have it just yet. Amazon just began rolling out the feature in July 2020, so it’s not available on all devices just yet. Check your app store for updates.
Also, if you already have a device with Alexa hands-free enabled by default, this option is already enabled, and you don’t have to do anything. You can test it out to see by opening the app and asking Alexa a question. If there’s no response, it’s not enabled by default.
To enable the feature, open your Alexa app.
Tap the Alexa icon at the bottom center.
You’ll be prompted to turn on the new feature with a window saying “Use Alexa hands-free.” Simply tap “Turn On.”
If you haven’t already, you’ll also be prompted to give Alexa access to your microphone and location. You can easily revoke these permissions later if you want.
Once finished, you won’t have to tap the Alexa icon to talk to Alexa anymore. Simply say “Hey Alexa” or “Alexa” to interact. As long as the app is open and your screen unlocked, you can communicate without touching anything.
Benefits of Going Hands-Free
Using the Alexa app hands-free is useful if you have your hands full, such as while cooking. It’s also ideal if you’re busy but want to randomly check in on things at home. You can drop in remotely using the app to your Echo devices at home.
It’s also useful if you use your smartphone or tablet as your main Alexa device. This works well if you have an old phone or tablet you’re not using anymore. As long as the latest Alexa app is compatible, you can set the device in a central location in whatever room you’re in and use it to ask questions, play games, and more.
While the restrictions may not make it as useful as it could be, going hands-free does have some perks. Most users will probably only use the feature occasionally, but it does mean more voice control and less screen tapping.