Amazon announced that it plans to launch a new messaging feature for Alexa devices that will allow users to send SMS messages to friends and contacts using nothing but their voice.
The report states that customers will be able to send a message to a specific contact, and then Alexa will figure out how to route it appropriately. The device will do this through either the previously launched Alexa messaging system, or by sending it out as an SMS if the recipient does not own an Alexa device.
While this is a great move in improving the functionality of Amazon devices, it does come with a drawback: the SMS messages only go to Android phones. Though some iPhone owners may be let down at the news, Amazon states that, as Apple does not offer their messaging API to third-parties, there is nothing they can do.
To set up the new messaging system, users need to follow the instructions that appear in the Android Alexa app. They go to the Conversations tab, then select “Contacts,” then “My Profile,” then enable the “Send SMS” feature. Once those steps are done, they can specify what type of message they want Alex to send, Tech Crunch reports.
This technology builds on the free calling and messaging system Amazon introduced last year. At the time, the messaging only went between Echo devices, but people believed the company wanted to develop SMS capability. With the new change, the device has the potential to become a phone and may be used in the same way landlines once were.
There is currently no information on when the company plans to expand the messaging to international devices.