Just days before the Apple HomePod goes on sale with the ability to send iMessages with Siri, Amazon has made sending text messages possible with Alexa.
The new skill launched overnight on January 30 and means Alexa is capable of text messages to any mobile phone in the world. Previously, she could only sed messages to contacts who have the Alexa app installed on their smartphone.
Text messaging through Alexa is available only through the Alexa app for Android for now, and there's no word on when the feature will come to iOS - although with the HomePod sending iMessages, we doubt Apple will let this happen any time soon.
When you ask Alexa to "send a message" she will try to send it via the Alexa app by default, before suggesting she sends a regular SMS if the recipient doesn't have the app installed. However, if you ask her to "send a text", Alexa will send a regular text message to the contact of your choice.
Text messaging is rolling out to all Amazon Echo devices and those which support Alexa messaging and calling - this means the Sonos One speaker will not get the feature, as it cannot currently make calls to Echo devices.
To set up text messaging with Alexa:
- Ensure you are running the Alexa app on an Android device - iOS is not yet supported
- Tap on the speech bubble icon at the foot of the app to open Conversations
- Tap on the icon of a person in the top-right corner to open the Contacts page
- Tap where your name is displayed above the words 'My Profile'
- Switch 'Send SMS' on
You should be aware that carrier charges apply, text-to-911 is not available, and MMS (picture messages) and group messages are not supported.
Check out these GearBrain guides to unlock new Alexa features:
- Amazon Echo: What are Alexa Smart Home Groups and how do I create them?
- How to set up a second Amazon Echo, and why your smart home should have more than one
- How to play music in several rooms at once with Amazon Alexa and Multi-Room Music
- Alexa Drop In: How to turn your Amazon Echo speakers into a home intercom system
- How to make Alexa go several things at once with Routines
- The GearBrain: What works with Amazon Alexa