Which Search Engine Does Alexa Use? Can You Change it?

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Alexa and other smart speakers have changed the way we interact with the internet. We can now search the web without even getting our phones out. Ironically, if you ask Alexa what search engine she uses, she’ll tell you she doesn’t know. So, just what search engine does Alexa use?

Alexa uses Bing to answer your queries from the web. Bing isn’t as reliable as Google for more advanced queries. However, it’s not possible to change Alexa’s default search engine to Google without being a developer and making your own “Ask Google” skill.

Keep reading if you’re interested to find out more about changing the default search engine on Alexa and how you’d go about it.

Can Alexa Search the Internet?

Yes, Alexa can search the internet and provide you with a voice response to almost any question you have. However, when compared to rival Google (known as the best search engine), the responses are often mediocre.

Before doing a general internet search, Alexa may check other sources such as IMDB for movie and TV show queries or Audible for information about books, both of which are owned by Amazon.


What Search Engine Does Alexa Use?

Amazon use Bing as the main search engine for sourcing answers to queries on Alexa smart speakers. Alexa will also use information sources depending upon the query, including IMDB, Audible, Wikipedia, and the huge selection of Alexa skills.

Bing is also the default search engine on other Amazon-owned devices, including the Kindle and Fire devices.

For users wishing to switch to the more favoured Google search engine, unfortunately, there’s no official way to do this at the moment. However, keep reading for a workaround to use Google search on Alexa.

It’s no surprise that Amazon turned to Microsoft’s search engine instead of Google, given that Google is their main competitor in the race to become the number one smart home ecosystem.

You might have expected Apple to do the same with Siri, however, they have prioritized the user experience and stuck with Google, although the estimated $15 billion deal probably helped too.


Is Bing Reliable?

For basic queries, Bing is fairly reliable and works in a similar way to Google.

However, with more complex queries, Google is far better at understanding natural language and the intent behind a question, which helps surface a better answer.

For example, a basic query such as ‘What is a smart speaker?’ provides the same answer on both Google Assistant and Alexa which uses Wikipedia as the source.

However, a more complex query like ‘What’s the difference between a smart speaker and a traditional speaker?’ gave the following answers:

Alexa (using Bing):

“A smart speaker is a type of speaker and voice command device with an integrated virtual assistant that offers interactive actions and hands-free activation with the help of one hot word. Some smart speakers can also act as a smart device that utilizes Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and other protocol standards to extend usage beyond audio playback, such as to control home automation devices. The speaker of the United States House of Representatives is the presiding officer of the United States House of Representatives. The office was established in 1789 by Article I, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution. The speaker is the political and parliamentary leader of the House of Representatives and is simultaneously the House’s presiding officer, de facto leader of the body’s majority party, and the institution’s administrative head.”

Google Assistant:

“The biggest difference is that smart speakers have built-in internet assistants like Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant.”

As you can see, Bing does not compare a smart speaker to a traditional speaker and started talking about the speaker of the house of representatives whereas Google was able to correctly and precisely answer the query.


Can You Change the Default Search Engine on Alexa?

So, we know why you’d want to change Alexa’s search engine from Bing to Alexa, but is it possible?

No, unfortunately, there is no Amazon-approved way to change the search engine that Alexa uses for answering web queries at this time.

However, if you’re desperate to use Google on Alexa and you’re a techy person, there is a workaround to install a third-party Google skill and use the command “Alexa, ask Google [search query]”.

The custom skill is available on Github here and the step-by-step instructions to install it can be found here.

You’ll need to sign up for both Amazon and Google developer accounts to make this work. Whilst there is no cost to this method (as long as you don’t try and sell the skill), you will still need to input your credit card details when creating the Amazon developer account.

I wouldn’t recommend this unless you’re very familiar with tech. It isn’t endorsed by Amazon or Google and has many limitations so does not have the full range of features that Google Assistant has natively on Android devices or Nest speakers.


Which Browser Does Alexa Use?

Alexa uses the Silk web browser which was built by Amazon for the Kindle but is now used on other devices such as the Echo Show and Fire TV.

It is possible to change the default browser on your Echo Show from Silk to Firefox.

To do this:

  • Go to the ‘Settings’ menu.
  • Choose ‘Device Options’ and then ‘Web Options’.
  • Select ‘Browser’.
  • Now you can choose ‘Firefox’.

Silk has more options built-in than Firefox and generally works better as it’s made for the device.

Although Alexa does not support Google or YouTube natively, you can use the silk browser to access both of these.

I have a dedicated guide if you wish to find out more about alternative web browsers for smart TVs.


Related Questions

Is There a Google Version of Alexa?

Yes, the Google Version of Alexa is Google Assistant. These are the two most popular voice assistants currently available.

Alexa can be used via Amazon Echo smart speakers, the Alexa app, or third-party devices with Alexa built-in. Whereas Google Assistant can be used via a Google Nest smart speaker (previously Google Home), the Google app, or any Android device including phones, TVs, and smartwatches.

Is Alexa a Search Engine?

No, Alexa is not a search engine. Alexa is a voice assistant that uses Bing’s search engine when answering queries that require a web search.

Kieren

I have been building up my smart home since 2016 so I'm a bit of a smart home expert by now. On this blog, I share my favourite smart home devices that I've tested along with tips and tricks I learn by watching countless YouTube videos, scrolling through forums, and tinkering around with my own smart devices. I've always been a Google Home user but I'm starting to think Alexa might have the edge, what do you think?