When Amazon introduced the Echo Show last May, it also announced a new messaging and calling service to go along with it. It was the first Echo with a touchscreen and camera, so video calling made a lot of sense. The company has since expanded some features to the Alexa app, but the feature hasn't really caught on.
Today, the firm announced that you'll be able to send SMS messages with Alexa. This opens the digital assistant up to new possibilities, since you'll now be able to send messages to anyone with a phone number, rather than just other Alexa users.
It uses your cellphone's number, rather than giving you a new phone number. The only catch is that the feature only works with Android devices at the moment. This isn't entirely surprising though, as iOS is more locked down in ways that make it hard for third-party devices to route an SMS message through the device. For example, HP's PhoneWise asks the user to input their PIN into the app, so it can actually wake and unlock your iPhone every time you use it to send a text.
The new feature is only available in the United States at the moment, and it's unclear when Amazon will bring it elsewhere.