There's a new feature on the Huawei Mate 9, and it may just push some people over the edge.

Huawei's excellent Mate 9 is now capable of talking to Amazon's Alexa assistant through an app that will be loaded after the phone receives an over-the-air update.

Hitting devices starting at noon ET on March 22, this will be the first (but likely not the last) Android phone in the U.S. to have direct access to Alexa through an app. But that's just it — Alexa is not available throughout the entire OS, from anywhere, like Google's Assistant. Instead, Huawei and Amazon worked on a custom app that's unsurprisingly called Huawei Alexa, which offers, simply, a single button to press to access the cloud service.

"At CES we shared that Amazon Alexa would come to the Mate 9," said Zhendong Zhu, president of Huawei Device USA, in a press release. "With the new Huawei Alexa app, we add intelligent voice control to the rich features already available on Mate 9. We look forward to collaborating with Amazon to further develop more voice-activated mobile experiences."

Presumably, whatever is available to users of the incredibly popular Amazon Echo is available through the app, though the lack of always-on listening lessens the usefulness somewhat. At the same time, its availability speaks to the lengths that Huawei is willing, and able, to go to differentiate its nascent product line in the U.S.

See at Jet.com

Press release:

AMAZON ALEXA NOW AVAILABLE ON HUAWEI MATE 9

Mate 9 with Amazon Alexa gives consumers access to Alexa Voice Service on-the-go

PLANO, TX – March 22, 2017 – Today, the highly-acclaimed Huawei Mate 9 includes Amazon Alexa. Delivering on a promise made at CES in January, over-the-air (OTA) updates will commence today, pushing the Huawei Alexa app to Mate 9 customers in the United States.

"At CES we shared that Amazon Alexa would come to the Mate 9," said Zhendong Zhu, president, Huawei Device USA. "With the new Huawei Alexa app, we add intelligent voice control to the rich features already available on Mate 9. We look forward to collaborating with Amazon to further develop more voice-activated mobile experiences."

"We're excited to bring Amazon Alexa to the Huawei Mate 9, helping customers easily perform everyday tasks while on the go – using just their voice," said Steve Rabuchin, vice president of Amazon Alexa. "From controlling their smart home and checking the news to shopping and listening to Audible content, we think customers are going to love interacting with Alexa while on the go. We can't wait for customers to try this out."

Huawei Mate 9 with Amazon Alexa

Using the Huawei Alexa app on Mate 9, consumers can bring Amazon Alexa with them, taking advantage of its natural user interface. Since Alexa was designed based on the assumption that users are not looking at a screen, it is a primarily voice-driven experience, ideal for people on the go. The Huawei Alexa app offers mobile access to features and scenarios consumers expect from Amazon Alexa including:

  • Home Automation: Mate 9 with Amazon Alexa makes it possible to manage your smart home even when you're on-the-go by controlling lights, thermostats, locks, fans, sprinklers and more.

  • Games/Trivia: Mate 9 with Amazon Alexa can make every trip more entertaining with games like Jeopardy, Magic Door and Twenty Questions.

  • Shopping: Mate 9 with Amazon Alexa makes it easy to get more done using just your voice -- Quickly create lists, order items to be sent to your home, get food delivered or have your favorite coffee ready with Amazon voice shopping, Starbucks, Pizza Hut, Dominos, Amazon Prime restaurants, and more.

  • Fitness/Health: Mate 9 with Amazon Alexa helps travelers stay fit with access to skills like 7-Minute Workout, FitBit and Stop, Breathe & Think.

  • News: Mate 9 with Amazon Alexa is a convenient way to stay informed with access to news anytime via Flash Briefings from NPR, CNBC, Reuters, Fox News, The Skimm, WSJ, AP, BBC, CNN, and many more.

  • Entertainment: Mate 9 with Amazon Alexa puts entertainment in reach with access to a wide array of podcasts and Audible content.

To use Alexa voice commands on Mate 9, users must first initiate the Huawei Alexa app. Once the app is launched, users can ask Alexa various things, including:

  • Get information by asking about famous people, dates, and places

  • Find a restaurant, movie or local business

  • Order from Amazon Prime

  • Control connected smart home features such as lights, temperature and appliances

  • Hear weather or traffic updates

  • Check your calendar

  • Hear the news through personalized Flash Briefings

Alexa has more than 10,000 skills, and new Alexa skills are added all the time, delivering even more capabilities. However, not all capabilities will be applicable at this time, including Timer/Alarms, Music and Tunein (in flash briefing), but these abilities will come later this year.

About Huawei Mate 9

Huawei Mate 9 features a dynamic interplay of industry-leading hardware and advanced software including the new Kirin 960 chipset and an intelligent Machine Learning Algorithm that ensures Mate 9 stays fast, even after 18 months. Featuring a second-generation Leica dual-lens camera, the intuitive EMUI 5.0 user interface, and now with Alexa Voice Service, Mate 9 is a step ahead of what consumers expect in a smartphone.

Huawei Mate 9 is available in more than 600 Best Buy stores and on BestBuy.com, as well as on e- retailers Amazon, Newegg, B&H, and Jet.com.