Amazon's AI assistant, Alexa, first launched only on Echo devices, but it has since appeared for Fire TV and Fire tablet owners. And now, Huawei is the first to launch Alexa on a smartphone.
If you enjoy using Amazon Alexa commands on your Echo, then you can now continue with those same commands on your Huawei Mate 9.
I started using the Huawei Mate 9 last November and continue to be impressed by the long battery life, camera performance, and productivity of the device. At CES 2017 in January, Huawei surprised many of us with the low $599 launch price (see my full review) and its announcement that Amazon Alexa would be coming to enhance the Mate 9's capability.
We have been left wondering when Amazon Alexa would finally launch on the Mate 9, and on March 22, Huawei announced that the Alexa Huawei app would start appearing in the Google Play Store this afternoon. You will need to install both the Amazon Alexa app and the Alexa Huawei app to take advantage of the Alexa experience on the US version of the Huawei Mate 9.
Alexa is a voice-driven experience, but always-listening mode is currently not included in the Alexa Huawei app. You need to first launch the app to enable listening mode. One of the most convenient ways to do this is to use the integrated Qeexo FingerSense functionality found on the Mate 9. Simply reassign one of the four letters (c, e, m, w) to the Alexa Huawei app to quickly launch the app with your knuckle gesture.
The Huawei Mate 9 has four microphones, so it should be very accurate with Amazon Alexa commands. Combined with the simple knuckle gesture launch, Alexa could become my preferred assistant. I should be getting an APK to test out the app before the public launch later today.
Huawei stated that the Huawei Alexa app will provide the following:
- Home Automation: Mate 9 with Amazon Alexa makes it possible to manage your smart home even when you're on-the-go by controlling lights, thermostats, locks, fans, sprinklers, and more.
- Games/Trivia: Mate 9 with Amazon Alexa can make every trip more entertaining with games like Jeopardy, Magic Door, and 20 Questions.
- Shopping: Mate 9 with Amazon Alexa makes it easy to get more done using just your voice; Quickly create lists, order items to be sent to your home, get food delivered, or have your favorite coffee ready with Amazon voice shopping. It works with Starbucks, Pizza Hut, Dominos, Amazon Prime restaurants, and more.
- Fitness/Health: Mate 9 with Amazon Alexa helps travelers stay fit with access to skills like 7-Minute Workout, FitBit, and Stop, Breathe and Think.
- News: Mate 9 with Amazon Alexa is a convenient way to stay informed with access to news anytime via Flash Briefings from NPR, CNBC, Reuters, Fox News, The Skimm, WSJ, AP, BBC, CNN, and many more.
- Entertainment: Mate 9 with Amazon Alexa puts entertainment in reach with access to a wide array of podcasts and Audible content.
Some Amazon Alexa skills are not available at launch time, including setting timers and alarms, music and movie controls, and geotracking. Huawei stated that there are more than 10,000 skills available for Amazon Alexa and many will continue to roll out for the Mate 9.
Alexa for the Mate 9 is launching first in the US with further rollout in the works in cooperation with Amazon.
Further ZDNet Huawei Mate 9 coverage
- Huawei Mate 9 review: Meet the new best Android smartphone for business users (RIP, Note 7)
- Battle of the big smartphones: HTC U Ultra vs Huawei Mate 9
- Huawei Mate 9 first impressions: Dual Leica lenses, big battery, improved UI
VIDEO: Try these fun (and completely useless) Amazon Alexa commands: