You can find Amazon’s virtual assistant Alexa in a growing number of devices, but you still won’t find her on your phone — not even within the official Alexa app.
However, a new, free chat app for Android and iOS devices called Roger is changing that by letting you chat with Alexa. You’ll need to sync the app with your Amazon account, but once you do, you’ll be able to record questions and commands for the virtual assistant with just a tap. Tap again, and Roger will send the audio up to Amazon’s cloud. Within a few seconds, you’ll receive a response straight from Alexa herself.
You don’t need to own any sort of Alexa device in order for Roger to work. In fact, with Roger, your phone is the Alexa device. All you need is a standard Amazon account.
Essentially, Roger utilizes your phone’s speaker and microphone to make it into an Alexa access point. That includes access to some Alexa Skills, as well as access to any smart home gadgets that you’ve put under Alexa’s control. Use Roger to ask Alexa to turn the lights off, and she’ll get right to it. IFTTT commands work, too. I used Roger to trigger some of the automation recipes we’ve set up here in the CNET Smart Home, and they worked like a charm.
You can’t do everything, though. Most notably, you won’t be able to stream music or radio through the app. Have Roger ask Alexa to stream music by David Bowie, and she’ll come back with a curt, “Amazon Music is not supported for this device.” So don’t call Roger a Tap-killer just yet.
Still, if you’re in the market for a weather forecast, the time of the next Red Wings game, or a cringe-worthy joke, Roger will get the job done. That might seem redundant if you’re already using Siri or OK Google on your phone, but it’s still a nice way to take Alexa for a test drive. And, if you already use Alexa to control your smart-home gear, Roger will work well as an Alexa access point you can take with you — and one that will work even when you’re off Wi-Fi.