If you’ve wanted to try out the power of the Amazon Echo and its virtual assistant Alexa but haven’t wanted to shell out $180, this new iPhone app is for you.
Called Lexi, the $4.99 app (iOS link) uses the Alexa services API in the palm of your hand, no separate device required. The app was first-spotted by The Next Web.
I bought the app and setup was very simple. You authenticate using your Amazon account (don’t worry, you’re not giving your login information to the app) and then access the features by tapping and holding on the screen and speaking, “Lexi, tell me the weather” or “Lexi, read me the news.” Lifting your finger off the screen will allow the app to process your voice requests.
The app isn’t as fully-featured as a stand-alone Amazon Echo, Echo Dot or Echo Tap — it doesn’t work with Amazon’s music or book services — or with third-party music services such as Spotify, Pandora, TuneIn and iHeartRadio — but it does work sports scores, news, Alexa Skills and with controlling your smart home.
You can even re-order Amazon products using the app. To customize your ordering preferences, weather and traffic information, you can configure the settings for Lexi inside the official Alexa iOS app. Lexi shows up as an additional Alexa device.
You can also use Lexi to ask general inquiries and for jokes. Oh — and if you want the Echo Dot, you can order one through Lexi. Warning: It’s still back-ordered and you won’t get it until July.
Over the last few weeks, we’ve seen the floodgates open on third-party Alexa integrations but this is the first standalone app we’ve seen that uses the Alexa APIs.
The app is very fast and works just like a standard Alexa device. The voice recognition is quite good and the responses to queries takes no more time than a standard Alexa device.
At $5, the app isn’t a full-fledged replacement for an Echo but it is a great sales tool for anyone interested in getting an Echo who isn’t sure they want to spend $180 on the privilege.
Even if you do have an Echo or other Alexa-enabled devices in your home, I could still see Lexi being valuable for anyone who wants a way to control their smart home devices in places where they night not be in yelling distance of an Echo microphone.