Amazon has rolled out an update to the iOS Alexa app allowing users to send text messages to Alexa-equipped devices.
The new feature, which is in public preview and only available to a select few US users, will likely roll out to all iOS users soon.
Alexa Has Entered the Chat
The new messaging service, called Type with Alexa, is a handy way to interact with Alexa when you aren’t within speaking range. It could be the perfect way to trigger smart home devices like thermostats and lights before you arrive home.
While much of the functionality is no different from a traditional web search, there may be some instances of personalized information that can now be accessed silently, perfect for interacting with Alexa around sleeping kids or late at night.
To see if you have Type with Alexa, open the iOS app, and look for a keyboard symbol in the top left corner. Text interaction uses the same commands as voice, and the app will give options for autocompleting commands based on what you have attached to your Alexa smart home system.
Amazon Open Alexa Up
Amazon has made several changes to the way Alexa interacts with users recently. Some seem to be focused on giving a smoother day to day experience like Alexa’s artificial intelligence upgrade.
This seems far more niche but has important implications. Texting Alexa is a nice feature, if expendable to most users. From an accessibility standpoint, it’s a big step. Parity between home assistant interactions is essential to make them available to everyone, and those who found talking with Alexa problematic or impossible will welcome this change.
Of course, Google Assistant and Siri have been able to do this for a very long time; just don’t tell those already invested in Amazon’s smart home ecosystem.