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Alexa goes hands-free on iOS and Android – with help from unlikely sources

The Amazon Alexa apps are gaining hands-free functionality, meaning users will be able to interact with the AI assistant without tapping the in-app microphone.

The update will come to both the iOS and Android apps but, due to restrictions on both platforms, it will require a little helping hand from the host device to achieve true hands-free Alexa functionality.

The app will need to be running and open in order to access the new hands-free controls. So, not hands-free right? Wrong. A clever work around calls upon the other personal assistants built into the phones.

Alexa fans can use Siri and Google Assistant voice controls to launch the Alexa app and, from there, it’ll be possible to add items to an Alexa to-do list, control smart home tech, access music playlists and much, much more.

It’s not perfect, but it’s ironic Apple and Google’s smart platforms can be leveraged used to aid the rival Alexa technology.

Related: Best Amazon Echo speaker to buy

Once the feature has rolled-out the Alexa app will deliver a prompt asking if you want to Use Alexa hands-free. From there, just tap Turn On to enable. Users can then make the customary “Alexa…” requests as they would with an Echo speaker or Echo Dot set-top box.

While iOS and Android smartphones become more effective devices, Logitech has revealed it is discontinuing its own hands-free Alexa-powered Harmony Express universal remote control, just a year after it was first announced.

Surprisingly, the company says that the $249.99 device will stop working completely in September, and is promising users a Harmony Elite universal remote as compensation.

“Unfortunately, our expectations were not met for this kind of Harmony remote,” Logitech told device owners in an email, “and as a result we’ve decided to focus our efforts on our core user experience: powerful universal remote control in a world with many devices connected to the TV. To that end, we will be discontinuing Harmony Express on September 30, 2020, after which Harmony Express units in the field will no longer operate.”

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