Android smartphone users can now choose to set Amazon's Alexa as their default personal assistant, instead of Google Assistant.
Previously, only Microsoft's Cortana could be selected as an alternative, but now Alexa is also available. This means Android smartphone owners can summon Alexa to answer their questions, add items to their to-do lists, control a huge range of smart home devices, and much more.
How to make Alexa the default assistant on Android
- Install the Alexa app, which you can download from the Google Play Store here
- Log into the Alexa app with your Amazon username and password
- Open your smartphone's Settings app
- Head to 'Apps and notifications' -> Advanced -> Assist app
- Pick Alexa from the list
On recent Samsung phones, it is easier to open the Settings app and search 'assistant' to find the right menu. The first time you open Alexa, you will be asked if you want to interact with her by voice, which then asks you to give the app permission to your your phone's microphone and speaker. After this, you are good to go.
Now, Alexa can be summoned with a long press of the (physical or virtual) home button, just as Google Assistant was before.
We set up Alexa on a Samsung Galaxy S9+GearBrain
Are there any limitations to using Alexa on Android?
Unfortunately, yes. Alexa cannot be summoned by just saying her name to your phone, even if it is unlocked. You have to give the home button a long press first, then you can speak. Alexa can also not be activated by squeezing smartphones which support this input, like the Google Pixel 2.
As discovered by Reddit users, Alexa can be made the default assistant on a wide range of Android smartphones. These include the Pixel 2, OnePlus 5, Samsung Galaxy S8, S9 and Note 8, plus the Essential Phone 1, Moto G5 Plus and Sony Xperia handsets.
From our personal experience of using both Alexa and Google Assistant, we have found the former is better at controlling smart home devices, while the latter is more capable at searching the web for information. Unfortunately, there is no simple way to assign one assistant to one button or gesture and one to another, although you can ask Google Assistant to open Alexa.