Alexa’s calling and messaging capabilities just gained a new feature if you use an Android phone. You can now use Alexa through any Echo device to send standard SMS text messages without ever picking up your phone. The messages are sent through your phone’s SMS app, so the recipient doesn’t need to have the Alexa app or do anything special to receive the messages.
The new capability is only available to users of Android phones and it likely will not be available to iPhone users anytime soon. That’s because Apple currently does not allow 3rd-party apps to send messages. On an Android device, Amazon relays your dictate message from the Echo device to the Alexa app and then uses the Alexa app to insert the message into the standard SMS text messaging app on your phone.
You must manually enable the new SMS text messaging capability from within the Alexa app before you can use it. To do so, open the conversation tab in the Alexa app, which is done by tapping the speech bubble at the bottom of the app. Then tap the contacts icon in the upper right and select your profile at the top of your contact list. From there, simply toggle on the “Send SMS” slider near the bottom and your all set.
Once the feature is enabled in the Alexa app on an Android phone, you can then tell Alexa on any Echo device to “send a message to [contact].” If the recipient has set up messaging themselves through the Alexa app, Alexa will send an Alexa-to-Alexa message that appears in the recipients Alexa app. If the recipient has not set up Alexa messaging, then Alexa will send them a standard SMS text message. If you want to send an SMS text message to the recipient regardless of whether they’ve set up Alexa messaging, you must say “send a text message…” when speaking to Alexa.
An SMS text message sent by Alexa will appear in your phone’s regular SMS text messaging app under the recipient’s conversation thread as if you typed the message yourself and sent it. Alexa sends your dictated message as text but also includes a link to an audio recording of yourself dictating the message. The audio recording is available for the recipient to listen to for 24 hours after the message was sent before it expires and is no longer accessible. There does not appear to be a way to not include the audio recording, which is the only indicator that the message was sent using Alexa.
Sending SMS text messages using Alexa can only be done through Echo devices that already support calling and messaging. That means it can only be done using the Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Plus, Echo Show, and Echo Spot. No third-party Alexa devices currently support calling or messaging.