Remember when Huawei said it would bring Amazon Alexa to the Mate 9 phone? Well, today is the day.
At CES 2017 in January, the Chinese first manufacturer announced that an over-the-air update would deliver a "Huawei Alexa app" to Mate 9 customers in the US. That update is now rolling out, meaning soon you can activate intelligent voice control on Huawei's phone. You'll be able to do almost everything with Alexa on Mate 9 that you can do with Alexa on an Amazon Echo-branded speakers.
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How does Alexa work on Mate 9?
When the Huawei Alexa app rolls out to your Mate 9 via an over-the-air update, you'll have to manually launch the app every time in order to use Alexa. There's no hot-word detection in the current version of the app, and Huawei didn't reveal any plans to add such functionality.
What can you do with Alexa on Mate 9?
The Huawei Mate app offers many Alexa features, like the ability to controll your smart home devices, check the news, shop, listen to Audible content, and more. While we haven't had the chance to play with the Huawei Alexa app yet, Huawei told Pocket-lint that the experience is largely voice-driven, for people on the go. But it still offer access to "features and scenarios" you expect from Alexa.
Those include the ability to control your smart lights, smart thermostats, smart locks, and smart fans and access to fun games like Jeopardy, Magic Door, and 20 Questions, as well as skills, news flash briefings. You'll also have the ability to create shopping lists, order items with voice shopping, and cue up podcasts and Audible content. But you won't be able tap into every Alexa feature.
For instance, you can't yet set alarms.
What can't you do with Alexa on Mate 9?
Huawei said timers/alarms are coming soon. Also, you can't yet access music like Spotify or even TuneIn briefings through the app. These abilities will come later this year. Huawei also told Pocket-lint that the Huawei Alexa app doesn't offer geolocation, so if you want Alexa to serve up location-specified results to your questions, you'll have to manually input your location in Amazon's own Alexa app.
Also, when you're sitting at home near an Echo, then load up the Huawei Alexa app and say "Alexa", both your phone and the speaker will start going off. Unlike Google Assistant AI on a Pixel device and in the Google Home speaker, there's is no intelligent handing off of responses. But the Mate 9 does boast a full mic system with noise cancellation, so it should your hear commands from across the room.
How do you manage Alexa on Mate 9?
You'll still need the Amazon Alexa app installed on your device to manage settings, features, and skills for Amazon's voice assistant. And Huawei said multiple Mate 9 devices can be connected to the same account. So, if everyone in your family owns Mate 9 devices but uses the same Amazon account for Alexa (for whatever reason), you can just log in and manage them through the Amazon Alexa app.
When does Alexa roll out to Mate 9?
The Huawei Alexa app is exclusive to Mate 9 and will exclusively become available to all Mate 9 users in the US simultaneously on 22 March 2017. Huawei didn't reveal any plans for an international roll out. Pocket-lint plans to post a review when we've had a chance to really test it out.