Published On: Thu, Aug 31st, 2017

Echo’s messaging use might supplement support for SMS texts from your possess ‘Alexa number’


Amazon appears to be formulation an enlargement of Alexa’s existent messaging capabilities to support promulgation SMS content messages to friends regulating your Echo device or Alexa app. That means Echo users could afterwards content anyone regulating voice commands, not usually other Echo owners.

According to formula found in a Amazon Alexa app, there are references to a new form of phone series – referred to as your “Alexa number” – that is listed alongside other hit information, like a home phone number, work phone, and mobile. Additionally, references in a formula privately state that users will be means to “send and accept SMS content messages” from their Echo device or a Alexa app.

News of SMS messaging was initial speckled by a site Voicebot.ai, citing an unnamed source.

In a screenshot of formula they’ve now combined to their strange news from final week, we can see lines that anxiety this supposed “Alexa number,” and serve sum about how this underline works.

Image credit: Voicebot.ai

For example, a formula includes references like “My Alexa series is:” and “When we send messages, your contacts will accept them from this number.” 

It also says “Send and accept SMS content messages regulating Echo, Echo Dot, Amazon Tap, and a Alexa app,” and offers an instance of how to use a feature.

It says we can use voice commands like “Alexa, summary Jane” and another to check a messages you’ve received. (These commands work today, though don’t extend to SMS.)

Assuming this is something in active development, rather than placeholder formula of some kind, this new underline would go over a existent Alexa job and messaging options that launched in May.

Currently, Echo owners can place giveaway voice calls and send content messages regulating a upheld Echo device or a Alexa messenger app on their smartphone. However, this underline is singular since a usually people we can call or content are those who also have a Alexa app and an Echo, Echo Dot, or Echo Show.

Today, for instance, we can tell Alexa to “message Jane,” though Jane won’t get an SMS content from you, in that case. She has to review it in her Alexa app, or ask Echo to check her messages. If a formula above indeed does what it promises, afterwards that would change when this underline goes live. Jane would afterwards get a SMS content sent from your “Alexa number.”

At present, a existent messaging underline requires we upload your phone contacts to your Alexa app to get started. This led to some remoteness issues during launch – users could summary you, call or send voice messages to we as prolonged as they had your phone series and a Alexa app installed.

Amazon, in a response to recoil about this problem, rolled out a hit restraint setting shortly after a underline debuted.

Above: Amazon’s website detailing a underline as it works today

An “Alexa number” could come into play here as another means of safeguarding user privacy.

You could give out your “Alexa number” to those we wish to be means content or call we by Echo and a Alexa platform, when we don’t feel gentle adequate to give them your “real” phone number.

Then we could use Alexa voice commands to send tangible SMS texts to those recipients, or we could form your texts in a Alexa app.

This is a identical value tender offering by competing voice services, like Google Voice or Skype, for example, as good as apps that offer we proxy and practical phone numbers, like Burner.

Beyond a screenshot from Voicebot’s news above, there are other references to this “Alexa number” that can be found in a Alexa Android app (the APK file)’s code.

Above and below: formula display an “Alexa” phone series type

Here, you’ll see this “Alexa number” is listed as one of a phone series forms a user can have on record in further to others, like a home phone, work phone, mobile, and “other” – all customary hit fields. The Alexa series margin in this APK contains an tangible phone series with an area code, that hints that Amazon might allot a practical series to Echo owners.

Amazon already has a resolution to do this, Voicebot had forked out – AWS’ Simple Notification Service (SNS) is mostly used by businesses who wish to send promote SMS messages to their customers, among other things.

Another engaging tidbit is that a anxiety in a formula (see a initial image) also says that “Messaging is accessible for giveaway for a singular time.”  

That could meant that being means to send SMS texts is something Amazon is deliberation rolling out as a paid upgrade. That would be notable, if true, as Amazon isn’t unequivocally monetizing Echo right now over a cost of offered a hardware itself, and from those consumers who use a voice selling features.

Of course, anticipating formula references doesn’t always meant that a underline is in active growth or on a near-term roadmap. But there’s utterly a lot of formula here to boot this as being placeholder text, created “just in case” Amazon’s decides to go that route.

In addition, it seems transparent that Amazon is rarely meddlesome in a intensity for Echo to turn a communication device. It launched a Echo Show, that has a disruptive new approach to stay in hold called “Drop In,” where we literally usually cocktail adult on a crony or family member’s video screen.

Plus, a Alexa app currently defaults to a “Conversations” screen, instead of a app’s tangible “Home” shade – something meant to inspire adoption of a messaging service.

Reached for criticism about Alexa’s designed SMS texting feature, an Amazon orator usually pronounced “per association policy, we don’t criticism on rumors or speculation.”

Know more? Email me Sarah Perez during sarahp@techcrunch.com

Featured Image: Joby Sessions/T3 Magazine around Getty Images

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