Owners of Amazon Echo devices can now make free calls to mobile phones and landline numbers through their smart speakers.
The feature, which many missed during Amazon's unveiling of its new line of Amazon Echo products, is a significant upgrade to the Alexa Calling feature that was launched alongside the Amazon Echo Show.
Free Calls On Amazon Echo Speakers
The Alexa Calling feature granted Amazon Echo owners free voice calls, but only to call other Amazon Echo speakers and smartphones with the Alexa app installed. The Amazon Echo calling feature was scrutinized for having no way to block incoming calls, but it was still a very useful feature given how popular the smart speakers are.
Alexa Calling, however, is now known to just be the first step in a plan by Amazon to enable easier communication between friends and family. The Amazon Echo, Amazon Echo Dot, and Amazon Echo Show are now all capable of calling mobile phones and landline numbers in the United States, Canada, and Mexico for free.
Users will simply have to request their Amazon Echo speaker to call a person in their contacts or dictate a number that the device will dial. If Alexa's calling and messaging feature is set up, the details that will show up on the other end is the Amazon Echo owner's mobile number. Users can choose to display "unknown number" instead of their mobile number, but that might make people ignore your calls.
The feature, however, has limitations. While dictating phone numbers to make calls is now allowed, users will still not be able to dictate text messages to send to their contacts. This is because the messaging capabilities of the Amazon Echo are still restricted to other Amazon Echo devices and to Alexa apps.
New Amazon Echo Products
Users who would like to also receive calls on their Amazon Echo speaker should take a look at the newly unveiled $35 Amazon Echo Connect. The device, which also enables calls to emergency services and international numbers, connects to a user's existing phone line or VoIP to transform an Amazon Echo product into a speakerphone.
The Amazon Echo Connect is just one of the many new products that Amazon recently unveiled, which also includes the $99 second-generation Amazon Echo, the $149 Amazon Echo Plus, and the $129 Amazon Echo Spot. There is also the Echo Buttons, which are meant to be paired with Amazon Echo speakers for gaming sessions and will be sold for $20 for two pieces.