Using Alexa With Your iPhone

Shh! Don't tell Siri

Man holding iPhone sitting at desk
PhotoAlto/Sigrid Olsson/Getty Images

Siri is generally a much-beloved personal assistant. However, it isn't the only assistant available to iPhone users; it's also possible to download Alexa, Amazon's answer to Siri. This guide explains how to do exactly this, and goes into how to make the most of Alexa, getting her to do everything from providing sports updates to purchasing items on Amazon.

How to Download Alexa on iPhone

Downloading the Amazon Alexa app on your iPhone is just as easy as downloading any other app to your iPhone, and it only takes a few moments.

Downloading the Amazon Alexa app
Simon Chandler
  1. Open the App Store app.
  2. Tap Search on the menu bar at the bottom of the screen.
  3. Tap the Search bar at the top of the screen.
  4. Type "Alexa" into the search bar, then press Search at the bottom-right corner of the screen.
  5. Tap the Get button.
  6. Tap Install.

Completing these steps will begin the downloading process, at the end of which you can tap Open to launch the Alexa app.

How to Set up Alexa on iPhone

Once you've downloaded and opened Alexa, you'll need to set up and customize the app. This can be quite a long process, but each step is simple enough to complete.

Setting up Alexa
How to set up Alexa, verifying a few details and providing permissions. Simon Chandler
  1. Tap Begin Setup at the bottom of the "Welcome to Alexa!" screen.
  2. Sign in to the app using your Amazon account, or create a new Amazon account if you don't already have one.
  3. Choose an Amazon device (e.g. Echo) to set up, if you have one, or tap Skip Device Setup if you don't (as shown in the image above).
  4. Tap the name you've used for your Amazon account on the "Help Alexa get to know you" screen.
  5. Check that your name's correct, then tap Continue.
  6. Tap Allow if you want to give Alexa access to your contacts, otherwise tap Later.
  7. Verify your phone number by entering it, then tap Continue.
  8. Wait for your verification code to be sent, enter it into the relevant box, then tap Continue.
  9. Tap OK if you'd like Alexa to send you notifications, otherwise tap Don't Allow.
Customizing Alexa
How to customize Alexa's Skills. Simon Chandler

This completes the initial setup process, but you also have the option of customizing how Alexa works and the Skills she can use by doing the following:

  1. Tap Customize Alexa on the Home screen. Alternatively, you can tap the Settings icon in the far-right of the menu bar at the bottom of the screen.
  2. Scroll to the Alexa Preferences section and tap the category you wish to customize. In the example pictured above, Sports Update is chosen.
  3. Tap the Search bar at the top of the screen.
  4. Type the sports team (e.g. Liverpool) for which you'd like to receive Sports Updates.
  5. Tap the corresponding suggestion the app provides (e.g. Liverpool - Soccer).
  6. Doing this teaches Alexa a new Skill. In this case, it can be used by tapping the blue Alexa icon located in the menu bar at the bottom of the Home screen, then saying the phrase provided by Alexa.

How to Use Alexa on iPhone

Like Siri, Alexa is a voice assistant, meaning you can use her via your own voice. However, in contrast to Siri, iPhone users can't wake her up by saying, "Hey Alexa." Instead, they have to open the Alexa app.

Speaking to Alexa
Alexa can be used by tapping the blue icon and speaking. Simon Chandler
  1. Open the Amazon Alexa app.
  2. Tap the Alexa icon.
  3. Speak into the iPhone, asking a question such as, "Where's the nearest train station?"

When doing this for the first time, you're prompted to give the Amazon Alexa app permission to use your device's microphone.

Voice purchasing
Using Alexa to order items on Amazon by voice. Simon Chandler

While using Alexa on the iPhone is much like using Siri, there's one central function distinguishing Amazon's assistant from Apple's: you can use Alexa to order items on Amazon.

To use Alexa for Amazon orders, you must have an Amazon Prime subscription and 1-Click ordering set up.

  1. Tap the Settings icon in the far-right of the menu bar at the bottom of the screen.
  2. Scroll down to the Alexa Account section and tap Voice Purchasing.
  3. Swipe the Purchase by voice toggle into the blue On position.
  4. If you'd like set up a code for voice purchases, swipe the Voice code toggle switch into the blue On position.
  5. Enter a new 4-digit code, then tap Save.

With Voice Purchasing enabled, you can make an order simply by tapping the Alexa icon and saying something like, "Alexa, order Kellogg’s Rice Krispies Treats." Alexa will search Amazon, tell you what she's found, then ask you to confirm the purchase.