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Amazon appears to be readying the launch of its own messaging app

Amazon's new messaging service will help expand its communication offerings beyond Alexa

Amazon is preparing the launch of a new messaging app in a bid to open more lines of communication with consumers.

The Anytime app will be a full-featured, standalone messaging app across smartphones, tablets, PCs and smart watches. It will allow users to chat with text and video in addition to playing games and engage with other Amazon services including shopping.

Tech Crunch reported news of the new app, citing a survey which included screenshots purporting to show the name and features included in the service.

If true, the service would build on Amazon's consumer communication offerings through Alexa Calling and would allow it to expand direct lines with consumers beyond just the Echo device ecosystem. It would also mean people could use their Alexa apps — on smartphones and other hardware — to communicate with each other.

The move mirrors a similar approach taken by Japanese retailer Rakuten which acquired its own messaging app Viber in 2014. Since then the app has been integrated with other Rakuten services, including shopping recommendations.

Amazon has strengthened its Alexa service for customers through several partnerships with brands including travel search engine Kayak which updated its Alexa skill to enable consumers to book hotel rooms using their voices.

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