So much for needing your phone to send text messages.
Thanks to a new software update, you can now use Alexa to deliver SMS text messages to any phone.
There are some caveats, however.
It only works for Alexa users in the US with an Android device that also have the Alexa app installed on their phone.
You also can’t use the feature to text 911 or participate in group text messages.
Don’t try to send your friend your favorite emoji, either, as the feature doesn’t support those characters just yet.
Amazon’s Alexa can now send text messages, but only if you have an Android phone. The tech giant hasn’t indicated whether it will open up the feature to iOS devices any time soon
There’s no word yet from Amazon on whether iOS users will be able to text using Alexa.
To send a text, first make sure you have the latest version of the Alexa app.
Then navigate to the Alexa app and select the ‘Conversations’ tab, which is located next to the home button.
Tap the ‘My Profile’ button and make sure the ‘Send SMS’ feature is turned on.
One important detail to note: If you ask Alexa to send a message, it will try to deliver a message through the Alexa app, and only to contacts that have an Echo speaker.
Instead, if you ask Alexa to send a text, it will go straight to sending SMS messages.
The recipient has to already be in your phone’s contact list, but it recipients don’t need to have an Android device — it works for iOS devices, too.
To use the text message feature, open the Alexa app and go to the ‘Conversations’ tab. From there, make sure that ‘Send SMS’ is on. Alexa can send texts to iOS and Android devices.
Alexa can already handle other communication options, including phone calls and video chats on some Echo devices.
Compared to rival voice assistants, Amazon has been slow to introduce a text messaging feature.
Google added text messaging capabilities to the Google Assistant last March and the feature works for both Android and iOS devices.
Apple’s soon-to-be-released HomePod smart speaker can also send text messages.
The HomePod uses its Siri voice assistant to send both iMessage and SMS messages.
Apple’s HomePod smart speaker, which is set to hit shelves on Feb. 9, can send text messages through iMessage or SMS
While its rivals may be ahead in voice-activated messaging, Amazon has made strides in bringing Alexa to other areas.
Earlier this month, Amazon announced that it would be rolling out Alexa Onboard, which lets users access Alexa from inside a car.
Drivers or passengers can ask Alexa to play music and get directions.
Thanks to this latest software update, users will likely be able to ask Alexa to send texts while they drive, too.
Toyota and Lexus are the first carmakers to adopt the Alexa Onboard technology.
Amazon also introduced its Alexa Mobile Accessory Kit this month, which enables the voice assistant to be added to smartwatches and Bluetooth devices like headphones and fitness trackers.
The moves are meant to help users get a truly hands-free experience when operating IoT devices and smart speakers.
WHICH SMART SPEAKER SHOULD YOU BUY?
Gadget makers are flocking to create smart speakers.
Already Samsung has revealed plans for a Bixby speaker to take on Apple’s HomePod, Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Home.
Apple’s speaker will have a higher price tag than the Amazon Echo range, which begins at $49 (£49) for the Echo Dot.
The speaker will provide a hub for appliances via Apple’s HomeKit system and establish a centre inside the home to lock people in to using other Apple services, according to the report.
A speaker might help customers stay loyal to other services such as Apple Music, Apple Watch, Apple TV and AirPods.
Google’s $130 (£105) Home speaker is triggered by the phrase ‘Hey Google’ while Amazon’s Echo uses ‘Alexa’.
Amazon’s $50 (£40) Echo Dot puts the firm’s smart speaker in a small package
Amazon’s smart speaker is available in two versions – the full sized $180 (£145) Echo shown here, and a smaller, $50 (£40) version called the Echo Dot.
Amazon Echo uses Microsoft’s Bing search engine to provide additional information, while Google Home uses the company’s own Google Search.
Both Home and Echo are continually listening for commands, though Google and Amazon say nothing gets passed back to them until the speakers hear a keyword — ‘OK, Google’ for Home and ‘Alexa’ for Echo.
Google Home Mini: Google’s clever tech-filled $49 (£34) doughnut can do almosteverything its bigger voicecontrolledGoogle Assistantpoweredsibling can do,including answer questionsand control third-party devices.
Google’s Assistant software is also able to answer follow-up questions on the same topic, in a near-conversation style, but Echo as yet cannot.
However, Amazon’s Alexa software has a wider range of skills on offer that enable it to link up with and control more third-party devices around the home.
A light comes on to remind you that it’s listening.
You can turn off the microphone temporarily, too.