Amazon is constantly trying to add capabilities to its Alexa virtual assistant in order to increase the usability and appeal of the product. Today, Amazon, in partnership with AT&T, have announced a new new skill for Alexa, one which will allow any device enabled with the assistant to send text messages through AT&T’s network, as long as they are AT&T customers.
Starting November 18th, customers who own an Amazon Echo speaker or a Fire tablet with Amazon Alexa installed can download the AT&T Send Message skill through the Amazon Alexa app. Once downloaded, users will then be able to send text messages from their number by simply talking to the virtual assistant. As part of the feature, Alexa users can load up to 10 contacts on to the skill, meaning sending a text is as simple as saying “Alexa, text John.” For those wondering what skills actually are, they are voice-activated capabilities, similar in many ways to a command, which improve the functionality of Alexa-powered devices. Until now, Skills included providing weather information, making purchases through Amazon’s website or simply playing music, but the addition of AT&T’s latest Skill hints at what may be to come for the virtual Assistant, as well as what other carriers such as Verizon or T-Mobile may also release in the future.
Aside from the launch of the new Skill, AT&T customers will now also be able to purchase both the Amazon Echo and Echo Dot starting November 18th for $179 and $49 respectively, from both the carrier’s online store as well as their retail locations. It remains to be seen, if over time, AT&T and Amazon increase their partnership by providing more skills or possibly making Amazon’s Fire tablets available to AT&T customers, but what is for sure is that the new Skill is sure to save many AT&T customers a fair bit of time if they are in a rush, while the wider availability of Amazon’s Echo speakers is sure to increase the awareness of both the speakers and their built in Assistant, something that will surely help Amazon reach their goal of making Alexa an integral part of people’s daily lives.