Android smartphone users in the United States are in luck: They can now send text messages using Alexa.
Before, users had to have the Alexa app installed in order to send texts, and they could only send messages to people who had also installed the app.
Now all that needs to be done is a simple “Alexa, send a message,” and a user can send a message to anyone in their phone’s contact list through the app.
A company spokesperson told VentureBeat that for now, in the U.S., Alexa can send messages only for Android smartphones. Earlier this month, Amazon announced it had added voice integration to Alexa for the Android app, allowing users to speak directly into their handsets to start a number of activities, such as activating Alexa skills, searching for information and playing music.
In addition, Alexa cannot read incoming texts to the user, and it is unknown when that feature might be added. It was also not disclosed when the service might become available in other countries. The spokesperson added that “there are no plans to add iOS support due to limitations Apple places on its messaging API for third parties.”
Alexa’s rival, Google Home, has been able to send text messages since last summer, when landline phone calls also were made possible.
To add the new feature, users open the Alexa app, go to the Conversations tab, select Contacts, then My Profile and enable the Send SMS toggle.
This is just the latest in a string of new features for Alexa. In May, Echo users were able to make free calls to any other Alexa-enabled devices. Then, in October, it was announced that anyone with the Alexa app could make free phone calls to any U.S., Canadian or Mexican phone number without needing additional hardware. And last spring, messaging and video chat with the app were launched.