The chat service for iOS, Android, and desktop is said to be called “Anytime” and will include typical messaging features like encryption, video and voice calling, but with some novel touches added to the mix that suggest social network-style aspirations for the app.
For example, it looks as if Anytime users will only need to use a name – as opposed to a phone number, à la WhatsApp – to link themselves and invite others to the service, although its not entirely clear how this will work. There’s also talk of Twitter-like @ mentions to involve users in conversation threads or to share photos.
Elsewhere in Amazon’s customer survey information are references to additional features such as the ability to color code conversations, play games, order food together, split a bill, location sharing, and group music listening. Users will also apparently be able to chat with businesses through the service, make reservations, check on orders, and even shop, with sensitive content like bank details protected by encryption.
It’s possible Anytime will be powered by Chime, Amazon’s chat service for enterprise users that it launched earlier in the year. There’s also potential scope for Alexa integration – given that the company recently launched messaging and calling features for Alexa devices, it could benefit from separating out these functions in a separate app.
There’s no word on when the Anytime service might launch, but Amazon will have to show it can offer something genuinely fresh and appealing if it expects to convince longtime users of rival platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger to jump ship.
Whatever its plans, Amazon clearly isn’t resting on its laurels in the hardware and connected services spaces. Earlier this week it emerged that Amazon is actively developing a redesigned Echo speaker to compete with Apple’s forthcoming HomePod. Both smart devices are expected to launch later this year.