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You can finally talk to Alexa in Amazon's Alexa app

Ever think it was odd you could access Alexa in the Amazon Shopping app but not the Alexa app? An update today fixes that.

Taylor Martin/CNET

Over the last year, Alexa has popped up in a lot of unexpected places. You can now find Alexa in cars, televisions, glasses, light switches, mirrors and many other places. And, at long last, you can now conjure Amazon's digital assistant within the Alexa app on your phone.

Last year, Amazon lowered the barrier to entry and brought Alexa to the masses by adding it to the Amazon Shopping app on iOS and Android, which seemed like an odd place to start. The move was likely targeting the shopping app's larger user base. Still, it always felt odd that Alexa was nowhere to be found within the actual Alexa app.

As of today, that's changed. At the time of this writing, this feature is only available in the Android version of the Alexa app. Amazon says support for the iOS app is coming soon.

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The Alexa assistant is now available inside of the Alexa app.

Taylor Martin/CNET

All you need to get started is the latest version of the Alexa app on Android, but the changes might not appear immediately. (My version is 1.24.3555.0, but I had to force close the Alexa app after the update and wait for nearly an hour to see the Alexa button appear in the center at the bottom of the app.)

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Once the feature becomes available in your Alexa app, you will need to first activate Alexa by granting the app permission to use the device's location and microphone. Click Allow, then approve both requests for permission. If you've ever used Alexa before (whether with a speaker or within the Alexa Shopping app), using it within the Alexa app will feel very natural and intuitive.

The previous three-tab interface will be replaced with five buttons at the bottom. In addition to the HomeConversations and media playback tabs, you get a Settings shortcut button and an Alexa button.

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When you can speak with Alexa, this blue line will appear at the bottom of the app.

Taylor Martin/CNET

Tapping the Alexa button from anywhere in the app will queue up the assistant. Then you can issue virtually any commands you normally use with Alexa. You can use it to play music (within the app) or tell it to play that music on one of your connected Alexa speakers. You can also use it to control your smart home devices, access skills or get the weather.

Unfortunately, there is no wake word and you have to actually have the app open to use Alexa, meaning it likely won't replace your phone's current native digital assistant. But this is yet another step closer to Alexa being everywhere