(Pocket-lint) - Who owns an Amazon Tap? Anyone?
It's not exactly the most compelling speaker in the Echo lineup, considering it isn't a hands-free and can't respond to the "Alexa" wake word. Instead, to wake Alexa, you have to tap the Tap. The 6.2-inch-tall cylinder speaker comes with a 7-piece microphone array and pretty much looks like a smaller, more portable version of Echo. It's also more affordable. But, because it's not always-on, it often gets ignored.
Amazon is now changing all that. It just announced an over-the-air firmware update that gives the Tap an always-listening, hands-free mode. Here's everything you need to know about the update.
What is Amazon Tap?
Amazon is one of three smart speakers in the Echo lineup. It followed the Amazon Echo and debuted alongside the Amazon Dot. You can learn more about each of these devices and how they differ in Pocket-lint's comparison guide.
Prior to 9 February 2017, to use Tap, you had to download the Amazon Alexa app on iOS or Android and connect the Tap to your home's Wi-Fi network. Then, you just pressed the button on the front and could start talking to Alexa. Tap also has a Bluetooth pairing button on the back as well as a power button, an audio input port, and a Micro-USB port. You can plug the Tap in there or use the included cradle to charge it.
The Tap currently sells for $130.
How do you update Amazon Tap?
Once you get the new firmware update, you will need to update and open the Alexa app on your phone or tablet. From there, go to Settings and enable the new Hands-free option. That's it. Now you can wake Alexa without having to tap the speaker. However, the new hands-free mode will drain the battery quickly, as it requires the microphone to stay always-on -- or active -- at all times.
Can you mute Amazon Tap?
Yes. To mute the mic, hold down the play/pause button for three seconds. To un-mute, do the same thing.
What else does the firmware update do?
Amazon said the firmware update adds support for Echo Spatial Perception (ESP), which "works in environments with multiple Alexa-enabled devices to ensure that the correct device responds, or does not respond, when the 'Alexa' wake word is detected."
When will the firmware update be available?
Amazon said the firmware update will roll out automatically over the air in the coming weeks.