Amazon’s Alexa assistant can do a lot. It can play music, answer questions, call a cab, and help manage your calendar. Starting Friday, it can also send out text messages for AT&T mobile customers.
Alexa uses skills to help users do a number of things. Companies can access the Alexa Skills Kit to create their very own skill to allow consumers to interact with paired devices using only the power of speech.
AT&T is the first to create a skill to utilize Alexa for texting. Customers can use the Alexa app to save up to 10 contacts at a time and then use their voice to dictate and send SMS messages to those people. Users must input their contacts before using the skill as Alexa connects with their app, not the user’s contact list. In addition, Alexa-enabled devices like the Amazon Echo ($149) and the Dot Echo ($49) will be available from AT&T both online and in retail stores.
While it is not clear exactly how the texting will work and whether Alexa will repeat your message back to you before sending it, AT&T has already including a stipulation in its fine print that any miscommunications are the fault of Alexa and Amazon. So if your text message comes out garbled, you cannot blame AT&T. For this reason, it is perhaps best to save Alexa messaging for short and simple texts and use your thumbs to type out the important ones.
This skill can be used on any Alexa-enabled device such as the Echo or the Echo Dot. The skill is only available for AT&T users, but it is a preview of what Alexa could be capable in the future as a virtual assistant. Hopefully, other mobile carriers will step up and create their own skills soon.