If you can’t or simply don’t want to talk to your Alexa assistant, you’ll soon be able to text it instead. Amazon quietly rolled out the feature to iPhone users, enabling them to fire off a text message to their assistant rather than using voice to communicate with the speaker. Not everyone has access to the feature at this time, however.
The new Alexa texting feature has launched as a public preview on iOS, according to the company, which confirmed the feature to The Verge following reports from some users. You’ll need the Alexa app for iOS, assuming you’re in the US. It’s unclear when the feature will arrive for Android and in other markets.
Google Assistant, of course, has long supported text input from users. There’s a good reason to have this option — some users may find it difficult to communicate verbally with an assistant due to, for example, a speech impediment. At other times, such as in the middle of the night, firing off text messages is more convenient.
Users who have access to the public preview will see a keyboard in the top corner of the app; tapping that icon will pull up the text feed. According to Amazon, users can input anything they could otherwise say to the speaker, such as telling it to turn off the lights or asking a question.
Overall, this isn’t a huge change for most users, but it is one that some people will surely find convenient. The rest of the app remains the same, of course, offering the ability to access skills, set up routines, add items to lists, message other Alexa users, and similar things.