Talk to your wrist: Alexa is the best smartwatch assistant

The outlook for smartwatches can be broadly divided into three camps. Apple Watch, the ever-evolving lineup of Google Wear OS smartwatches, and … everything else. To be honest, many of the smartwatches and fitness bands in this other category are really good, so it’s probably unfair to group all other wearables into “everything else” buckets.

No, what I’m talking about when I say “everything else” is that these watches use a custom-built operating system that’s separate from Apple’s WatchOS and Google’s Wear OS. Smartwatches with custom operating systems have a lot of implications (most of which are outside the scope of this article), but one of the big choices made by using a non-Apple smartwatch is which smart assistant. Do you use?

It’s not surprising that Siri can easily navigate the Apple Watch, and the Google Assistant’s performance on Wear OS devices is a bit inferior, so watches in this category are unfortunate, but Amazon’s Alexa-voiced watch. There is a big picture of. assistant. And this is very unique. Because Alexa has a specific place in the world of voice assistants. It’s mainly related to DIY use cases and compatibility between devices.

But in reality, what is it like to choose a smartwatch dedicated to the Alexa feature? Now, get a few different classes of watches, such as the Fitbit Versa 2 and Xiaomi’s new flagship S1 smartwatch (currently officially available only in some markets), and spend most of the week on Alexa. I asked you to control my life. How did this fall?

Men are using the Amazon Alexa feature of the Xiaomi S1.

Which smartwatch has Alexa

The first important consideration in this story was to determine which brands of smartwatches really depended on Alexa. First, there are a variety of Fitbit trackers and watches. I generally really like what Fitbit does on custom operating systems, especially when it comes to battery life, but to be honest, I spend a lot of time asking Alexa to start a workout or read a calendar. Have never spent. However, Fitbit needed to include Alexa to keep the voice-launched commands competitive. However, this is subject to change as Google owns Fitbit.

Next is the “third party” watch. The most famous manufacturer is probably Amazfit. These valuable watches and bands aim to offer wrist notifications, basic training features, and about 70% of the smartwatch experience at a bargain price. This is probably the best place to use Alexa.

The final category is “high-end” custom OS watches. This story provides a spin on the custom OS for the Xiaomi S1 watch, but you can find some options in the expensive watch space that uses the custom OS. In particular, Samsung Galaxy Watch line (prior to 4th) installments have been switched to Wear OS. in short).

Daily Alexa

Xiaomi S1 smartwatch on the wrist

Before actually using Alexa in everyday life, it’s important to emphasize what the “built-in” Alexa features really mean. Alexa-specific devices such as Amazon Echo and Fire TV are ready to use, but “embedded” devices are third-party technologies designed to work with Alexa after setup. — Usually via the Alexa app on your phone. Devices such as the FitBit Versa 2 and Xiaomi S1 require you to update the firmware, connect the device to the Alexa app on your phone, and be in a region where this feature is supported. Therefore, once the setup is complete, you will have hands-free access, but it will take some work to do.

In fact, Alexa felt like an interesting voice assistant. Probably because Alexa is used to living in smart homes rather than pockets. My typical voice assistant on the go is Siri, but I still use it on my Apple Watch to quickly start workouts or respond clumsy to text when I can’t get my phone out of my pocket. Just to do it. Alexa has a patchwork of complex skills suitable for DIY, so you have a little more experimentation while walking around.

First, when I asked to search for me on the internet, I found that Alexa actually worked a bit better than Siri. Siri often sends back incorrect information or tells me to answer my phone more often. Alexa, on the other hand, seemed more comfortable to struggle to answer my question, at least in most cases. Similarly, the Alexa app has more easy built-in other app features, so it was more seamless to trigger a schedule in the Google ecosystem (such as meetings and to-do lists). Of course, Siri can tackle this in Apple’s ecosystem, but it’s not very seamless with third-party options. This is all an anecdote, and mileage can be different, but in general, I think Amazon is building a bold voice assistant. This is because it’s not very safe, especially considering Alexa’s tens of thousands of skills. Still, it’s more than what the Google Assistant brings to the table.

Alexa on all devices

Hand holding the Xiaomi S1 smartwatch

Perhaps the most important consideration in determining the difference between Alexa is the number of third-party devices Amazon has chosen to interface with. Both Google and Apple tend to have a good grasp of the ecosystem, so when they request functionality, they tend to be first-party devices by default. Meanwhile, Amazon has taken great steps to build large-scale Rolodex for speakers and smart home devices. The numbers fluctuate considerably, but Amazon usually has thousands of device edges with compatibility lists. The Google Assistant and Apple are terribly behind in this regard.

To be fair, my smart home is a little mixed bag. My thermostat is the Google Nest Learning thermostat, but the TV streaming device I chose is the Apple TV. But much of the rest of my smart home system is supplied by the budget-friendly company Wyze. Whether it’s a smart lock, a Wi-Fi camera, a monitored security system, or even a robot vacuum, the Wyze app is my favorite smart home control interface. And while Google’s integration is said to be supported, the best feature I’ve found is Alexa. Therefore, it was convenient to wear Alexa on your wrist to unlock the door or turn off the camera. And this should be true for a variety of other devices, including the obvious Amazon-enabled ring device and the popular Ecobee smart thermostat line.

And this is where I really think Alexa’s stuff is shining on your wrist. Apple’s HomeKit feature doesn’t really exist yet, and it takes a lot of work to get going. Google’s approach works best on first-party devices. Amazon is an ecosystem without an ecosystem, so you can get lucky with a variety of third-party devices.


Xiaomi S1 smartwatch on the wrist with the screen turned off

You may be frustrated, but the answer to the question “Is Alexa the best voice assistant to wear on my wrist?” Actually depends on your priorities. For me, I still think Siri is my favorite just because many of my mobile lifestyles are Apple-based. However, if you prefer Android phones and PC laptops, you might change the song to Alexa.

In the Google Assistant vs. Alexa battle, Google may have won the first-party battle, but due to compatibility with many devices, Alexa is a really smart little helper. If you’re in the smartwatch market and a feature that requires voice activation, we recommend checking out the list of “required” device integrations. If it goes beyond the main Google Nest / Google Home infrastructure, Alexa may unleash a better, more futuristic life.

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