NEWS

Amazon Announces Free Voice Calling on Echo Show

June 5, 2017

Recently Amazon launched its new touch screen Echo device called the Echo Show. It has all of the Echo’s capabilities but also adds video chat to its list of functions. You can also use it to watch YouTube videos, see music lyrics, monitor your home with cameras and browse through your photos and more. But one of the main things that this new device offers is a free voice calling and free voice messages.

A Hands-Free Experience

Even though Amazon announced the free calls and messages alongside the launch of the Echo Show, these features will also be available on other Echo devices with Alexa. There will be no need to go through a contact list to make a call because these calls will all be hands-free, including video calls. For instance, to call your father or grandfather, all you will have to do is say “Alexa, call my father.”

Alexa will use a VOIP service to make the calls. The only catch: for you to use the service the person on the other end should also have an Alexa device or the Alexa app. You can download the app on your Android or your iOS device.

However, the Echo Show comes with one unique feature not available on other Echo devices called Drop In. Drop In lets you start an automatic video call with approved contacts, which means they don’t have to answer the phone first when you call them. That also sometimes includes turning on the recipient’s camera and mic automatically. It is equivalent to peeking through someone’s front door keyhole while knocking or simply walking straight into the house. Since this feature can easily be abused, it has limited use such as in cases where you are checking on your children or elderly relatives.

The voice messaging feature allows you to have a conversation with a friend or family members that do not like calls. You do not have to call someone first to send a voice message. Instead, ask Alexa to message someone. With the Echo Show, you can send a video message and verbal message, but only a verbal message on other devices.

Not Their First Rodeo

While this is a significant step that Amazon is making as far as communication is concerned, it is not their first. The company bought a startup that develops and operates video messaging apps aimed at business people. It incorporated the technology into Amazon Chime, an online meeting and video conferencing for businesses. Kindle users also already had a messaging service.

Amazon is looking far into the future to find what will give it an edge against its deep-pocketed competitors like Google and Apple. Google Home, the current major competitor for Amazon’s Echo speaker, currently does not offer something like this. However, they can easily add it because of its apps that have similar functionality. For now, Echo products dominate the home automation speaker market with Amazon working hard to maintain this lead.

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