Amazon to end a special Alexa feature found on some Android phones

Amazon’s Alexa digital assistant has proven to be a useful tool. But thanks to the less than enthusiastic reception for the Amazon Fire Phone back in 2014, Alexa was an assistant without a smartphone to call its own. Still, Amazon has worked out some deals that allow users of certain Android phones to activate Alexa using a certain phrase. The digital assistant can be activated hands-free from any screen on these handsets, even the lock screen. And the Alexa app doesn’t even need to be open.
If you own one of these “Alexa Built-in” phones, you may have already received the bad news. According to GeekWire, Amazon is informing owners of these devices that it is turning off the hands-free Alexa feature on March 31, 2023. Both iOS and Android users will still be able to ask Alexa to handle tasks when the Alexa app open. With the app open, users can still use Alexa hands-free.
The Alexa app is available on iOS from App Store, and for Android devices from the Play Store.
Confirming the news about hands-free Alexa, an Amazon spokesperson said, “We regularly review our features to make sure we’re investing in services that customers like, and we’ve decided to suspend support for this feature. ” The spokesperson added that continued sales of these models will be up by the individual phone manufacturers and noted that Amazon “continues to invest in the Alexa experience within the Alexa app to provide a seamless way for customers to access on their favorite features and experiences.”
Although the reason for Amazon’s decision is not officially known, the company said that updates to Android could have a negative impact on hands-free Alexa even before the cut-off date. And that could be a clue as to why Amazon decided to end this feature because it seems concerned Google will end system-wide microphone access for the digital assistant.
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Additionally, Alexa is one of Amazon’s business units hit by massive layoffs. The company recently announced that it expected growth of just 2% to 8% for the current quarter and announced plans to lay off 10,000 workers. Business has been troubled enough for Amazon that its shares have fallen nearly 45% since the start of the year.

Amazon’s website lists the following Android phones as offering hands-free Alexa:
  • OnePlus 10T 5G
  • OnePlus 10 Pro 5G
  • OnePlus 9 Pro
  • OnePlus 9
  • OnePlus 8 Pro
  • OnePlus 8
  • Motorola Edge (2022)
  • Sony Xperia 1
  • LG G8 ThinQ
  • Moto G7
If you have one of the handsets above and use Alexa hands-free, be prepared to leave the Alexa app open if you want that feature to continue working from next April. Although the feature will be phased out starting April 1, it’s no joke for those who prefer Alexa to Google Assistant.

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