Sending a quick, important text message to somebody can get tricky when both your hands are occupied. But for those who are subscribers of AT&T and have access to Amazon Echo, this will not be a problem at all. Beginning this week, Amazon’s speakers, which are powered by Alexa, the company’s own voice controlled digital assistant, can now compose text messages for AT&T subscribers, and then send these messages to a pre-set list of contacts. The user needs only to command Alexa to ask AT&T to text that contact’s name, and Amazon’s digital assistant will proceed to doing it.
AT&T now has the distinction of being the first wireless carrier to offer text messaging completely hands free, and it has Amazon Echo to thank for it. Still, the feature does have some things that can be improved upon. For starters, users only get to send text messages via Alexa to ten people, the maximum number of contacts that can be pre-set through the Alexa mobile app for smartphone devices. Moreover, in order to qualify for the service, subscribers need to be under a compatible wireless plan, and must own a compatible handset.
Furthermore, it is not made exactly clear yet if this new Alexa skill is capable of reading back incoming text messages. Wouldn’t it be nice though if Alexa could? Still, Amazon has made no secret of its vision of continuing to develop its digital assistant so that it would be able to hold coherent conversations with mobile users.
Obviously, this whole thing can not be possible if the customer does not have the Alexa app installed, and if they do not have the Amazon speakers. As for the latter, purchasing the Echo or the Echo Dot is made easier for AT&T’s subscribers, that is because the second biggest wireless carrier in America has set up a new web page for Alexa.
As for Amazon, collaborating with AT&T in this particular development should be a major win. Much has been discussed about how Amazon, primarily an e-commerce giant, has proven to be one of the rather unexpected early successes of the world of the Internet of Things. Indeed, with solid sales for its Echo offering, the company seems to be leading the way for IoT -- not established mobile giants like Apple or Google. And its Alexa digital assistant has also been growing in appreciation and skill -- since Amazon launched it a year ago, it has amassed over 3,000 new skills.
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