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Amazon Ends a Key Alexa Feature

The tech giant has been cutting staff and more changes may be coming.

Amazon’s Alexa personal virtual assistant has been available to help customers since 2013. Technology that connects to your phone and or other devices seems like something right out of Star Trek, but it won't take you to warp speed and into a neighboring galaxy. Amazon’s Alexa can control smart devices and other learned tasks through additional apps, though. 

Alexa works with devices like Amazon's  (AMZN) - Get Free Report Amazon Echo Dot, Amazon Echo, Amazon Echo Studio, Amazon Echo Show 8, Amazon Echo Flex, Amazon Echo buds, Amazon Echo frames and Amazon’s Echo Loop. These devices playing music or have a clock feature but more ‘skills’ are available. Alexa can interact with turning on lights, work with smart doorbells, unlocking doors and more.

Amazon Fire phone Lead JS

Amazon Discontinues Hands Free

Amazon informed its Alexa customers who use Alexa Built-In phones that it was going to discontinue the use of hands-free capability. As of March 31, 2023, the feature will no longer be supported by Amazon. While this feature’s demise will likely upset some customers, the Alexa feature in phones will still work, but only when the app is open on the phone.

"We regularly review our features to ensure we are investing in services that will delight customers and have decided to suspend support for this feature," an Amazon spokesperson told GeekWire.

Amazon is "continuing to invest in the Alexa experience within the Alexa app to provide customers with a seamless way to access their favorite features and experiences,” the spokesperson said. Amazon had recently announced layoffs, and the Amazon Alexa division is one of the areas that will be affected. 

The voice command to open and use Alexa is one of its main conveniences and taking that away means customers have to do leave the app open and running on their phone in order to be able to use the feature to the fullest extent. Everyone knows leaving apps open on phones, allows tracking and drains the battery as well, so it's clearly going to disappoint a lot of iOS and Android users who prefer Alexa to other virtual assistants like Siri and Google.

Voice Assistance Customers

Some of the phones that the change will affect are OnePlus 10T, OnePlus 10 Pro, OnePlus 9, Moto G7, OnePlus 9 Pro, OnePlus 8, OnePlus 8 Pro, Motorola Edge, Sony Xperia 1, A LG G8 ThinQ, Moto G7 Power, LG Stylo 5, and the feature while available on other phones including iPhones if the app widget was downloaded.

Customers of these phones are not lost without options. They can still use and operate Google  (GOOGL) - Get Free Report virtual voice assistant and iOS users have Siri. Google Assistant launched in 2016 and started exclusively with the Google Pixel and Google Pixel XL. Google Assistant became available on other phones in 2017. Siri is the iPhone and iOS user's virtual assistant that launched in 2011 with its iPhone 4S. This is just another bump in the road of multi-channel, billion-dollar business Amazon. It has e-commerce down to a science as well as logistics.

Amazon tried to launch the Amazon Fire phone in 2014 exclusively with carrier AT&T and it wasn’t widely accepted. Apple and Android phones have been around, and most people have already made their choice to stick with one of them. Getting people to switch phones is about has hard as getting people to stop shopping at Amazon. Amazon discontinued the Amazon Fire phone in 2015.