Post Publication Date: 12/11/18 – Amazon has quietly rolled out a new feature consumers have asked about for years: Alexa email support.
Readers outside the US: as of this writing, it does not appear the new email feature is available for non-US Alexa device owners, but as with most Alexa features, it will most likely be rolled out to other regions after any wrinkles are ironed out here in the US.
Which Services Are Supported?
Initially, Gmail, Microsoft Outlook, Hotmail and Live.com are the only supported email providers. If the feature turns out to be popular, support for more services will probably be added.
How Does It Work?
Once you’ve connected your email account you can ask Alexa to “check my email” or “read my email”. Alexa will say how many unread messages you’ve received in the past 24 hours. Then she’ll brief you on them one at a time, in order from the most recently received message, stating the sender’s name first, followed by the subject line. After each sender/subject reading, Alexa will prompt you to have her either read the text of the email, reply to it, delete it or archive it.
More advanced features like tagging, foldering and such do not appear to be supported. It’s also not possible to have Alexa create and send a brand new email from scratch; as of now this is a reply-only type of support.
What Are The Privacy Concerns?
In order to use this feature you must link your email account; in the case of Outlook or Google, doing so will also link your calendar. Amazon says Alexa must temporarily store the text of your emails in the cloud while she reads and processes them, but assures consumers the emails will not be stored beyond that brief processing time and will not be scanned or analyzed for any other purposes.
However, it’s important to remember that anyone who has access to your Alexa devices can access your email (and calendar, if you use Outlook or Gmail) with voice commands once your email account is linked.
How To Connect Your Email
In the Alexa app, open the main menu and go to Settings > Email and Calendar. In the Email/Calendar screen you can connect your supported email account by granting the necessary permissions. If the device where you’re using the Alexa app also has an email app installed, Alexa will automatically detect that service and offer it as one of the options.