Technology

New iPhone? Ditch Siri and Add Alexa on Your Home Screen Instead

This story is part of home tipsCNET’s collection of practical advice for getting the most out of your home, indoors and out.

You already know you can give Alexa Commands on your Echo Devicesbut did you know you can also talk to Alexa on your iPhone? Think of it as taking all of Alexa’s great features, but to go. Whether you just bought a new one iPhone 14 or still hanging on to another model, now is a good time to swap Siri for Alexa.

Siri is fine (and Apple has added a few updates to its virtual assistant in iOS 16), but if you prefer to have a conversation with Amazon’s trusted voice assistant, you can just add the iOS Alexa app widget to your iPhone or iPad home screen. Once you’ve set it up, one tap will bring up the assistant you most want to talk to.

It’s not a big secret — almost every one smart home device on the planet works with Alexa — but for Siri and HomeKit, your options are more limited. Not to mention that Siri sometimes chokes and stops responding to basic requests (at least, on my iPhone). I almost gave up on Siri, and you might too.

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Alexa, on the other hand, is almost always available, accurate, and downright friendly. And Amazon’s voice assistant even has a other name and voice option. If you like having Alexa set timers and reminders, turn on the lights and answer questions if you’re at home, wait, you’ll start talking to Alexa on your iPhone when you’re on the go.

I’ll briefly explain how to set up and use the Alexa iOS widget to take Siri’s place on your iPhone or iPad. But first a word of warning.

siri

Siri is fine and all, but wouldn’t you rather talk to Alexa?

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

Alexa Can’t Completely Replace Siri, But It Doesn’t For real matter

There are some functions that only Siri can perform: change the brightness of your iPhone’s screen, turn on Do Not Disturb, etc. Basically, anything that changes the settings on your iPhone or iPad itself is off limits to a third-party assistant like Alexa.

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However, there is much more that Alexa can do and Siri can not — especially if you haven’t checked whether a smart home device you’ve purchased is compatible with HomeKit. My house is positively littered with smart plugs and video doorbell cameras and all kinds of devices that Siri can’t talk to, but Alexa can.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter since you’re not replacing Siri with Alexa. If you already have the Alexa app (and you probably do), don’t even add Alexa to your iPhone — it’s just in the app. Adding an Alexa widget to your home screen is really just a tap, but that’s enough to make adding the Alexa widget to your iOS home screen worth the effort.

Also read: The Real Cost of Setting Up an Amazon Alexa Smart Home

Add the Alexa widget to your iPhone’s home screen

Now that I’ve told you why it’s helpful to add Alexa to your iPhone, here are the steps you need to follow to add the Alexa widget to your home screen. It will only take you a few minutes and a few taps because all you really need to do is create the widget and then move it to where you want it on your home screen.

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Alexa iOS widget

You can leave the Alexa widget next to the others or move it directly to your iPhone’s home screen.

Screenshot by Dale Smith/CNET

1. On your iPhone or iPad, swipe from left to right along the first page of your home screen.

2. Press and hold one of the widgets until a menu appears. Tap Edit Home Screen.

3. Press + icon in the top left corner.

4. Scroll until you see Amazon Alexa or type Alexa in the search box, then tap Amazon Alexa.

5. Tap Add widget at the bottom of the screen (there is only one size option).

That’s the first part. When you’re happy with the location of the Alexa widget, tap Done in the top right corner and you’re done. If not, with the widgets still wiggling, tap and hold the Alexa widget until it “picks up”, then drag it to your home screen and drop it where you want it, then tap on Done.

A word of warning before you start: While widgets have been useful tools since their debut with iOS 14 in 2020, they can be finicky if you’re not used to using them. A new widget can mess up your home screen layout if you’re not careful about how you move it.

And there you have it. Just select the Alexa widget and start commanding.

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