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Send short text messages with Alexa

Alexa isn't privy to all your mobile doings quite like other virtual assistants Google Now or Siri, but with this skill, you can use the connected speaker to send your friends short text messages when your hands are full.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

While Alexa is a great addition to any smart home, there are still a lot of things Amazon's connected speakers can't do, like understand notifications, swear or wake to custom commands.

Alexa also lacks a feature that many other voice assistant services like Siri, Cortana and Google Now offer: sending SMS.

Fortunately, this is where Alexa's Skills feature comes in handy. By enabling the skill SMS With Molly, you can send handsfree messages from the comfort of your couch or when you're running behind and rushing out the door.

Here's how to set it up.

Enable the SMS With Molly skill

First, you will want to enable the skill.

  • From the Amazon Alexa application on your mobile device or echo.amazon.com from your browser, open the Skills menu.
  • Search for the skill SMS With Molly by Anythings.
  • Click or tap Enable.
  • A new browser tab will open, prompting you to sign up for the SMS With Molly service.
  • Create an account or sign in.

Add your favorite contacts

SMS With Molly doesn't have access to the contacts on your phone -- or access to your phone at all, for that matter. To be able to send text messages, you need to add your favorite contacts to your SMS With Molly account.

Navigate to smswithmolly.com and login. Enter the first name and phone number of up to six contacts. Click Save.

Sending text messages with Alexa

Before using SMS With Molly, there are some things to note about the service.

Taylor Martin/CNET

First, since SMS With Molly nor Alexa have access to your phone's data, the messages will not be sent with your phone number. Instead, whomever you send messages to will receive something like what you see above -- the short message, who the message is from, their phone number and a link to SMS With Molly. For any unsuspecting recipient, it may seem a little strange or even like spam.

The skill's page in the Alexa application says that it works best with messages that are five words or less. For messages that are longer than that, you're going to run into issues, so you're better off using Siri or Google Now. Also, you can only send up to 30 SMS per month using this skill. It's unclear what happens after you reach that cap. I reached out to the developer for clarification and have not yet heard anything in return.

To send a text message using the SMS With Molly skill, says something along the lines of:

  • "Alexa, tell SMS With Molly to text Alex 'Leaving now.'"
  • "Alexa, ask SMS With Molly to text 'I'm running late' to Mark."
  • "Alexa, tell SMS With Molly to send 'Where are you?' to Meghal."

Frankly, SMS With Molly is a little rough around the edges. Some of the messages came through with typos and the idea of sending someone a message from a different number because your hands are full or you're too lazy to reach for your phone is a bit of a stretch.

That said, while I probably won't be using this Alexa skill personally, I do find it interesting and promising for the future of what third-party developers can do with Alexa.