Because a primary concern is for kid's communication is privacy and safety, the makers chose to make the conversations a closed, private loop only available through WIFI. Any adult wishing to send messages must download the app and ask the parent for permission to be able to "talk" to the child. Children can send each other messages through the toy and messages can be up to 30 seconds.
Set-up was a bit of a pain, but once I figured it out, it worked well. Key things were to close out all apps on the phone, turn the brightness to high, and make sure you are on a 2.4GHz WIFI. There aren't wires but you do have to link a parent's phone to the toy in order to select your WIFI network. While using Bluetooth would have made it easier, as a parent, I appreciate taking the safer choice.
The toy also does silly things like laugh when shaken, snore when on its belly, and let you know sweetly when something didn't work. The company says they are developing additional content which could be exciting down the line too and add even more value.
As we get to know the toy better, there are some improvements I'd like to see, however it does what I had hoped. My kid is able to receive and send messages to loved ones across the globe, without the additional expense of cellular service, the worry of privacy, or the hassle of having her own "smart" device. She gets a cuddly toy and to chat with whom she wants, when she wants. That's pretty cool. Oh- and the price is great.