If your Amazon Echo can’t hear you from the other room, or if you just want to control it when you’re away from home altogether, you can do so with the Amazon app (on iOS) or a handy third-party app (on Android).
The Echo’s far-field voice recognition technology is one of the device’s most touted feature, and it allows it to hear your voice from well across the room, even when there’s music playing. However, its biggest hindrance is walls, and if you want to control the Echo from the next room over, it may not hear you. Furthermore, if you’re away from home and you want to give a voice command to the Echo, you obviously can’t.
However, Amazon’s own shopping app on iOS now allows you to give your Amazon Echo voice commands through your phone, effectively getting rid of the need for the $30 Voice Remote, too. It doesn’t directly control your physical Amazon Echo unit, per se, but it acts as a virtual Echo device, communicating with your Alexa account and letting you control your smarthome devices by voice using Alexa on your phone.
The feature uses the existing microphone button in the app that’s used for voice search. You can still use it for that, of course, but now Alexa is completely built in. Here’s how to quickly set it up and get going.
Unfortunately, this feature isn’t available on Android yet, but we have a third-party alternative you can use for the time being—just scroll down to the next section to see it.
How to Control Alexa From Your iPhone
Install the Amazon app for iOS, if you haven’t already. Then open it up and tap on the microphone button toward the top-right corner of the screen.
Tap on “Allow Microphone Access” at the bottom.
Hit “OK” to give the app permission to use your iPhone’s microphone.
After that, you can give Alexa commands by tapping on the microphone button first and then saying your command—no need to start with “Alexa”, either. She is listening whenever the blue bar at the bottom lights up.
How to Control Alexa From an Android Phone
Unfortunately, this feature is not yet available in the Android version of the Amazon app, but luckily there’s a third-party app (called Ubi) that gives you similar functionality.
After you download and install the app, open it up and tap “Login with Amazon” at the bottom.
You’ll be taken to the web browser where you’ll log in to your Amazon account.
On the next screen, tap on “I Agree” at the bottom.
You’ll be taken back to the Ubi app where you can immediately begin using Alexa from anywhere. Simply tap once on the big round button and say your command (no need to say “Alexa”). Alexa will respond through the phone’s speaker.
Of course, the only downside of these apps is that they aren’t quite as quick to use as the Voice Remote, where you can just pick it up and speak, and they don’t have the always-on listening of the Echo. But if you want a much cheaper alternative that you can also use while you’re away from home entirely, then the Amazon app and Ubi are the apps to get.