Amazon is constantly updating its smart speaker the Echo. To maintain an edge over its competitors, the company launched free voice calling through the use of the Echo and Echo Dot speakers, or the Alexa app.
This new feature launched on Tuesday, May 9, the same day when Amazon unveiled its Echo Show product, which is the first-ever smart speaker to sport a touchscreen.
"Use your Echo device to call or message anyone with a supported Echo device or the Alexa App — for free," Amazon notes.
Voice Calling Using Amazon Echo
On Tuesday, Amazon confirmed that the feature free voice calling feature would roll out for the Echo, Echo Dot, and Alexa app the same day. With the new functionality supported, users of these devices can use the internet to make and receive free calls through their speakers. This technology is known as VoIP or Voice over Internet Protocol and is similar to what Microsoft's Skype uses.
Amazon officials revealed that a chime would signal the calls coming in on the speaker and the outer ring of the Echo or Echo Dot would turn green. Apart from the two speakers, the feature would also be available for people using the Alexa app on their Android or iOS devices.
Users would be able to receive or ignore incoming calls by simply issuing commands through the Echo's in-built assistant Alexa. For instance, to receive a call, owners will have to say "Alexa, answer my call".
To call a contact, owners will have to command the AI assistant to do the same and if no one answers on the other side, users will also be able to leave a message. For example, to initiate a call, users will need to just say "Alexa, call Steve."
Limitations Of The VoIP Feature
To use this feature Echo owners and Alexa app users will need to be connected to the internet. Without a stable network connection the VoIP service will not work.
It is important to note that for the time being calls from the Echo or Alexa can only be placed to people who use either the Echo or Echo Dot or the Alexa app. This means that owners will be unable to call people on their phones unless they have the Alexa app installed.
Amazon also stated that it would not maintain a record of any of the voice calls made through the speakers or the app. The company will keep a track of the voice messages that are left using its services, strictly for the improvement of the product.
Even with these drawbacks, the native calling feature in Amazon's product will likely keep owners satisfied. However, Amazon's competitor Google may soon follow suit with its own voice calling feature for the Google Home speaker.