Mobility

Would you swap Amazon Alexa for Siri or Google Now on your smartphone?

Motorola announced that a new Moto Mod with Amazon Alexa will be coming to its Moto Z smartphone. Can it compete in a crowded AI assistant market?

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Image: Chris Monroe/CNET

Amazon's AI-powered digital assistant, Alexa, will be coming to the Motorola Moto Z smartphone sometime this year, Motorola announced via a blog post on Sunday. Alexa will be available for purchase as a Moto Mod for the smartphone, but the price hasn't been disclosed.

With the new Mod, users will be able to control smart home devices, check the news, call an Uber, and more. The integration is only the beginning of a budding partnership between the two companies, as the post noted that Alexa will, at some point, be accessible on Motorola devices without unlocking the device.

Currently, there are thousands of skills available for Alexa, and more developers are working in the ecosystem. The integration with Motorola will benefit professionals who use the devices, as it will assist in quickly booking appointments, offering status updates on travel, and possibly assisting in project management scenarios in the future.

SEE: How to become an Alexa developer: The smart person's guide

Small business owners and employees may also find the Mod useful, as they can use Alexa from their smartphone to set the thermostat in their office or shut the lights off, saving time and money. Also, Alexa can now be used to arm and disarm security systems using voice commands and a secure PIN meaning, as long as an employee has his or her phone, they won't get locked out of the office.

As noted by ZDNet's Steve Ranger, the Moto Z is the second phone to announce Alexa integration. In January, Huawei announced that Alexa will be coming to its Mate 9 smartphone as well.

The question then becomes whether Alexa will be able to compete in a crowded—and growing—market for AI assistants. In addition to Apple's Siri, Microsoft's Cortana, and Google Now and Assistant, some OEMs such as Samsung are working to build out their own digital assistants.

Among the leaders, Google recently opened up Assistant to work on other Android 6.0 and 7.0 smartphones, even though most Android devices still have Google Now, the first iteration of Google's virtual assistant. Apple has also been working to make it easier to add Siri integration into apps, and Microsoft expanded Cortana to support IoT deployments.

At this point, Amazon might not have a choice but to compete. Google's CEO Sundar Pichai, himself, said that the next generation of computing will be marked by a shift from "mobile-first to AI-first," so digital assistants could be table stakes in the years to come.

Amazon has a strong hold on the smart home market, and it is making in-roads in automotive as well, which could give it a bit of an advantage. However, Google, Apple, and Microsoft have their own proprietary office suites, and integrations that could make it easier for professionals to get work done as well.

Motorola also announced the Moto Power Pack, another new mod that adds 50% more battery to the phone and can make the phone use power more efficiently. Salespeople on constant calls, or business travelers who are running out of battery may find the mod useful. The Power Pack will be available in March for $49, the post said.

What do you think?

Would you use Amazon Alexa instead of your current smartphone assistant? Why or why not? Tell us in the comments.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. Amazon Alexa is coming to the Motorola Moto Z as a Moto Mod later in 2017. It will also be available in the Huawei Mate 9.
  2. Questions remain about whether or not Alexa can compete against AI assistants from companies like Apple, Microsoft, and Google, but it may not have a choice but to go full-steam into the market.
  3. Motorola also announced the Moto Power Pack, which will add 50% more battery to a user's smartphone for $49, and could be good for professionals and power users.

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About Conner Forrest

Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.

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