For me, reading the story was like Deja Vu. No, not the Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young LP by the same name, but a flashback to the 90s when I was first using services like JFax (now J2) and Webley (now CommuniKate) and owned by Parus Holdings.
Back in 1998, when I first started using Webley one of the best features was the ability to have "him/her" read you your emails and that you could reply to them. This function was one of the earliest uses of text to speech I ever used, and while driving, it was a great way to stay in touch on crucial time sensitive messages, and not have to pull out my Blackberry Messenger.
Today, with people more moble, and with smaller keyboards, and the need for hands-free while driving, having text to speech, and voice to text capabilities is something that is needed. Of course having Alexa read your messages when others are in earshot may not be the best idea, but if you're in your own space, or if you've connected your Echo to a Bluetooth headset, the new feature could be for you.
But the issue of Amazon rolling out a feature like this is about patents. So watch the patent war's begin.