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July 15, 2017

HTC U11 owners will be able to chat with Alexa starting Monday

by John_A

Why it matters to you

Integration with HTC’s U11 is good news for the many people who rely on Alexa as their digital assistant of choice.

Another digital companion is on its way to the HTC U11 to go toe-to-toe with Google Assistant. HTC has announced via its American Twitter account that Amazon’s Alexa will debut on the phone on July 17.

Alexa was promoted ahead of the U11’s June release, but wasn’t ready by the time the device launched. Earlier this week, HTC updated its Edge Sense app, which controls the phone’s squeezable frame functions, with an Alexa shortcut. While the shortcut can be switched on in the settings, it doesn’t seem to be operational at the moment, and presumably won’t work until Monday’s launch.

With the addition of Alexa, the gleaming, liquid glass-backed handset will offer up a total of three different digital aides, including Google Assistant and HTC’s own Sense Companion. Thankfully, Sense Companion doesn’t retread the same ground as Google and Amazon — it uses artificial intelligence to monitor your usage and offer suggestions, ranging from apps to try out to what you should wear on a rainy day. We found the assistant helpful in our review, but not necessarily a reason to run out and buy the phone.

So what can Alexa do on the HTC U11? We won’t quite know until it launches, but having Alexa on board gives the U11 the distinction of being the only phone where you’ll be able to summon Alexa by name out of the box, without the need for a standalone app. In this sense, it should work similarly to Amazon’s Echo smart speaker. HTC’s latest tease for the feature shows a person calling on Alexa while the device is asleep.

In addition to bringing Alexa into the fold, the recent update for the Edge Sense app also improves the feedback animation whenever Edge Sense is triggered. This should make squeezing the phone a more responsive experience overall.

Today’s news follows a rumor from earlier in the week that HTC is looking to deliver a number of updates for U11 users in the near future, such as 60 frames-per-second video recording at 1080p and an option for more accurate color calibration. Owners only had to wait about a month to get Alexa, so hopefully continued updates arrive in an equally timely fashion.

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