Theoretically, you soon may be able to have two voice personalities on your smartphone: Google and Amazon’s Alexa. Wonder if they will give each other orders. Wonder if they will even like each other. Lenovo’s Motorola handset division and Amazon revealed Feb. 27 at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona that they are partnering to install the Alexa voice assistant into a set of new Moto Z smartphones that will come into the market later this year.
This would be interesting news because Motos run the Android operating system, which already uses Google’s voice-assistant technology. Amazon’s smart-device Alexa has been a big hit answering questions and directing traffic inside homes for two years or so.
In truth, the reality is that current smartphone handset makers use one voice assistant that comes with the operating system. Because Android is an open-source system, Motorola could replace Google with Alexa if desired, and that looks like what the plan is going to be for now.
At the start of this new project, Lenovo and Amazon will focus on developing something called an Alexa Mod, a block that will attach directly to a Moto Z handset. The companies will then integrate Alexa directly into a list of Moto handsets and devices, Lenovo said at a press briefing.
The Mod will allow users to perform normal tasks, such as texting, checking email, reading the news, controlling a smart home device, call for a ride and others, Motorola said.
Motorola said earlier in a blog post that “later this year, we’ll add Alexa integration into our phones—and you won’t have to unlock the phone first.”
The company also said that eventually there will be deeper integration of Alexa into a broader range of Moto smartphones. For example, users won’t need to press keys or unlock screens to speak or ask Alexa questions. Thus, the voice assistant will be continuously active, waiting to hear commands.
This feature gives Alexa an accessibility advantage over Google Now, because to use it, phones need to be unlocked. The always-aware nature of Google’s Echo and Echo Dot, however, have disadvantages that include privacy issues.