Amazon has added a powerful new feature to the Alexa app for Android devices. It’s now possible to set Alexa as the default voice assistant on Android. Doing so will replace the Google Assistant in certain scenarios with Alexa. This lets you make Alexa requests without needing to first launch the Alexa app.
With Alexa set as the default voice assistant on an Android device, you can quickly launch Alexa by holding the home button for a few seconds. Doing so brings up a blue bar at the bottom of the screen and causes Alexa to immediately start listening for a voice request. Once a request is made, Alexa will respond, all without needing to launch the Alexa app. Alexa will display a visual card corresponding to the request if appropriate.
With Alexa set as the default voice assistant on an Android device, it’s still possible to launch the Google Assistant. To do so, you can press the microphone button on the Google search bar or at the top of the Google Now screen, which you can get to by swiping left from your main home screen.
It might vary by device, but, on my Nexus 6P, Alexa did not replace the Google Assistant when an external source triggered a voice prompt. Even though Alexa was set as the default voice assistant, pressing the voice button on Bluetooth headphones that were paired to the phone caused the Google Assistant to come up. The same was true when pressing the action button on wired headphones. Alexa responded when I held the home button while using headphones, but not when I pressed the headphone action button.
A similar result occurred using Android Auto. With Alexa set as the default voice assistant, pressing the microphone button on the Android Auto interface resulted in the Google Assistant launching. The same thing happened when I pressed the voice button on my cars steering wheel. Alexa launched and could be heard through my car speakers when I held down the home button on the phone.
At this time, it seems like the only way to launch Alexa is by holding down the home button. Again, this might vary for different Android devices. Some Android devices may not even have the option to set Alexa as the default voice assistant at all.
To set Alexa as the default voice assistant on an Android device, you can follow this guide. It is done by going into Android’s default app settings and go into the “Assist & voice input” options.