Alexa comes to the iPhone

Siri competitor Alexa has come to the world’s most popular smartphone via an incoming update for Amazon’s shopping app for iPhone and iPad. The release marks the first time Amazon’s personal assistant has supported non-Alexa hardware.

Just tap the mic in the app’s search bar to ask Alexa questions, get weather updates, shop and search items, order and track products, play music, use Alexa Skills and Smart Home features, and much more.

By sneaking Alexa into its iPhone app, Amazon’s made it possible for Apple customers to experience its Siri rival in full glory without needing to buy an Echo speaker.

Alexa in the Amazon app can be asked to reorder items, track packages, search, buy products on your behalf and more. You can even use your voice to get news, weather and traffic information, open Kindle books, play songs from Amazon Music Unlimited and Prime Music or those you’ve purchased and more.

The app includes an overhauled media player for books and music.

Alexa Skills and Smart Home

Crucially, Alexa in the Amazon app supports Alexa Skills and Smart Home features.

Configurable through the companion Alexa app or at, Alexa Skills are voice-driven capabilities that enhance the functionality of Alexa-enabled devices.

You can use more than 10,000 skills in the iPhone app.

VentureBeat says most Alexa-compatible devices for the connected home are configurable via the app, but the Door Lock API for unlocking smart door locks won’t be supported at launch.

POLL: do you own any HomeKit products?

Other than that, you can control a wide range of Alexa smart home products with Amazon’s updated iPhone app. According to the company, tens of thousands of developers are building skills for Alexa.

Yesterday, Amazon made it free for developers to build and host most skills using Amazon Web Services. Under the new program, app makers are offered AWS promotional credits to put toward their Alexa skill.

For more information, visit Alexa Skills Guide.

Here’s a description of the app’s other features, from Amazon’s website.

Shop with Alexa

You can say things like:

  • “Search for paper towels”
  • “Reorder batteries”
  • “Track my last order”
  • “Add shampoo to my cart”
  • “Best-selling camera”

Listen to music and play Kindle books

Alexa can stream books from your Kindle library or music from Amazon Music Unlimited, Prime Music or purchased music. Amazon Prime members can stream playlists, stations and over two million songs for free.

You can say things like:

  • “Play some music”
  • “Play the Beatles”
  • “Play dance music”
  • “Play my Kindle book”

When you ask Alexa to play media, player controls will appear on the screen.

The audio will continue to play after you’ve dismissed the visual.

Ask Alexa a question

Alexa can answer a variety of questions about people, geography, dates, music, sports and more. She also can spell, define words, complete conversions, make simple calculations and—why not?—tell jokes.

You can say things like:

  • “When is Memorial Day”
  • “What is anthropology”
  • “Tell me a joke“
  • “Who is Abraham Lincoln”

For more information, visit Ask Alexa.

Check news, weather and traffic

Alexa can give you updates on the news, weather and traffic.

To check weather, add your address to the Alexa app. To check traffic, set your starting point and destination in the Alexa app.

You can say things like:

  • “What’s new”
  • “What’s my flash briefing”
  • “What’s the weather in Boston today”
  • “How is traffic”

For more information, visit Alexa News, Weather & Traffic.

Learn more about the app’s features on the Amazon website.

The refreshed Amazon app is a staggered release, with only a small percentage of users getting the update starting today. It will be available to all iPhone users next week. Let us know if the app is live for you and, if so, share your impressions in the comments.

Amazon for iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch is available free on App Store.