Amazon Alexa users can now send SMS messages through the voice assistant, the company announced via TechCrunch.

The Amazon feature comes as Apple takes pre-orders for its own smart speaker: the HomePod. The Apple device will allow users to send iMessages and SMS text messages by using Siri.

As of Tuesday, U.S. Alexa users can send text messages to their contacts in the Alexa app by simply asking the voice assistant.

Alexa already has a voice calling and its own messaging system. Now, users can send through the Alexa messaging platform if the contact also has an Alexa device, or to the person’s smartphone as an SMS message.

The feature only works with Android devices, and Amazon doesn’t plan on launching the tool on iPhones any time soon. Amazon said Apple currently doesn’t offer their messaging API to third-parties. The new text message feature doesn’t work with third-party Alexa speakers either. Amazon did not specify when it will launch the feature to international users.

amazon echo The second-generation Amazon Echo. Photo: Amazon

How To Send Text Messages Using Alexa

To start sending text messages using Alexa, users have to first turn on the feature on the Alexa app.

Here’s how:

  1. Get the most recent update to the Alexa app on the Google Play Store. Open the app after downloading the latest version.

  2. Go to the Conversations section.

  3. Select the Contacts button at the top of the screen.

  4. Scroll down and choose “My Profile.”

  5. Enable the text messaging feature by turning the toggle on to send SMS messages under “Permissions.” Tap “OK,” then “Allow.”  

To send a message, users should follow these steps:

  1. Users can say phrases like “Alexa, send a text message,” or “Alexa, send an SMS” to get started with the message.

  2. The voice assistant will then ask which contact the text should be sent to.

  3. Users can then say what they want the text message to display.

Amazon had previously launched free voice calls and messaging last year between Echo devices or the Alexa app. People can set-up a calling and messaging account by verifying their cell number and importing contacts. When finished signing up, users can say phrases like “Alexa, call mom” or “Alexa, send a message to [phone number]” to commence calls or messages. Calls to 911 are not supported through the feature.