You may or may not be excited about the idea of a phone-less future, but it looks like it’s coming. Alexa users can use Amazon’s voice assistant to place voice or video calls on their iOS, Fire, or Android tablets from today.
Amazon had previously introduced the ability to make voice and video calls from Amazon Echos in May of last year, but that functionality was restricted to only calling other Echo speakers or smartphones with the Alexa app installed. Starting from today, March 12, Amazon has made it possible to use Alexa to place or receive a voice or video call on your tablet, too, expanding your options for staying in touch.
Getting going is as easy as downloading the Alexa app for Android or iOS and entering your Amazon log-in details. After that, you’ll be prompted to allow Alexa access to your contacts and to verify your phone number via a text message. If you’re on a Fire tablet, Alexa should already be installed and should be available for calling. Fire HD 10 tablet users can ask Alexa to make calls completely hands-free, but for other Fire tablets (Fire 7, HD 8, or older generations), you’ll likely have to hit the home button first before you can ask Alexa to make the call.
If you want to video chat you’ll have to be sure that your intended contact has an Echo device with a screen — an Echo Show or Echo Spot — or you’ll only be able to make voice calls. However, you can also set up opt-in “Drop In” support for instant video or voice if you want an instant connection with a loved one or friend. Landline support is also available, and you can ask Alexa to call a specific landline number, but both yourself and your recipient will have to be using an Echo Connect to receive the call. Similarly, users will only be able to place a call to the emergency services if they have an Echo Connect.
It’s still a little limited. You’re restricted to only being able to call Amazon Echo devices or your contacts who also have the Alexa app — so it’s only Alexa-to-Alexa for now — and it’s currently only available to users in Canada and the U.S.. You’ll also need a stand-alone Echo device to call landline numbers. However, the calls are sent over Wi-Fi, and so are completely free, and since getting set up is as simple as installing an app, it’s a great way to easily stay in touch.
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