In recent months, competition in the virtual assistant space has picked up. At the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show, Google launched Smart Displays — new lineups of screen-equipped, Google Assistant-powered speakers by LG, Sony, and others designed to rival Amazon’s Echo Show and Echo Spot. Amazon, for its part, recently updated the Alexa app for Android with voice controls, and on Tuesday rolled out support for SMS messaging.
Alexa is now able to send SMS messages to contacts in your smartphone, according to VentureBeat. The feature is limited to the US for now, and only works on Android devices — the company doesn’t plan to add iOS support because of the restrictions Apple places on its messaging API for third parties. As of publication time, the company hasn’t provided details about when international users might be able to send SMS messages or if Alexa will be able to read incoming messages.
To enable SMS messaging on Alexa, open the Alexa app, go to the Conversations tab, select Contacts > My Profile, and enable the Send SMS toggle.
Alexa has been able to send messages since last year, VentureBeat notes, but not via SMS. Messages sent from the Alexa app could only be received by other Alexa app users. Now, when you say, “Alexa, send a message”, you’ll be prompted to choose between sending an SMS message or an Alexa app message.
Amazon’s Echo speakers have provided free phone calls to landlines and mobile phones in the US, Canada, and Mexico since September, and the Alexa app’s text and video messaging features were introduced in June ahead of the launch of the Echo Show. Google Home users, meanwhile, have been able to send SMS messages since landline phone calls became available in August.
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