A server-side update to Amazon's dedicated Alexa app for Android has now started to hit users which allows text messages to be sent via voice commands. Messages aren't limited to SMS, either. Users can specify that method of delivery by asking Alexa to "send a text message." However, by giving the app access to a device's contacts, a user can also simply tell Alexa to "send a message" and Alexa will decide between SMS and Alexa Messaging based on stored information about a given contact – presumably such as whether or not that contact has an account associated with an Alexa enabled-device. Perhaps best of all, users won't need to download a new version of Amazon Alexa in order to gain access to the new feature and it should also roll out fairly quickly if it hasn't finished already. With that said, it does appear as though this is a U.S.-only feature, as of this writing.
Meanwhile, getting started using the feature is very straightforward. First, the Amazon Alexa app will need to be downloaded if it isn't already. From there, users need to select the "Conversations Tab" which is hidden behind a speech bubble icon along the bottom of the interface. A pop-up should appear, informing users of the new feature and providing a walkthrough for getting it set up. If that doesn't appear, users will need to select the contacts icon in the top, right-hand corner of the screen and then select "My Profile" by tapping on their own account name. The app will then outline the steps to actually complete a call or text message from within the app. Some users may need to take an extra step by toggling a "Send SMS" toggle to the on position.
This update is just the latest in a string of updates that bring Alexa into direct competition with Google's own Assistant on the Android platform. Most recently, Amazon released an update which finally enabled the Alexa app to function more similarly to how it does with Amazon's Echo range of devices. So, for anybody who may be looking for an alternative to Google's A.I. offering, there may never have been a better time than now to check out Amazon's Alexa. That can be found via the Google Play Store button below.