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Amazon Echo devices can make calls: How to do it, and what to ask Alexa

If you have an Amazon Echo Show 10, Echo Dot, Echo Flex or even the latest Echo Show 15, you could consider ditching your landline. Not only can you try out cool Alexa music hacks and tons of commands, but you can use Alexa to call or message another Echo device. All you have to do is say, “Alexa, call Mom” or “Alexa, call (insert name of the person you’re trying to get a hold of here),” and you can start an Echo-to-Echo voice or video call. 

 But if you want it to work, you’ll both need to have the feature up and running in your respective Alexa apps. Here’s how to do it.

  1. Get an Amazon Echo device: Echo Show, Echo Dot, Echo Flex or others
    It probably goes without saying, but if you want to engage in Echo-to-Echo communication, you’re going to need an Echo device. At least, sort of. You can technically use the Alexa app, too, but that seems like a stretch given how many other ways there already are to use your phone as, you know, a phone.

Here are the Echo devices that offer Echo-to-Echo calls:

Amazon Echo (4th Gen)
Amazon Echo Studio
Amazon Echo Show 15
Amazon Echo Show 10 (2020)
Amazon Echo Show 8 (2021)
Amazon Echo Show 5 (2021) and Echo Show 5 Kids
Amazon Echo Dot (2020) and Echo Dot Kids Edition (2020)
Amazon Echo Dot with Clock 4th Gen (2020)
Amazon Echo Flex

  1. Download the Alexa app and make sure it’s up to date
    This one’s a biggie since the Alexa app is basically going to act as your call center. You’ll need to make sure you’ve updated to the most recent version, which features a new design and, most importantly, support for the voice chat feature.

To do so, just head to the App Store on iOS devices or the Google Play Store on Android devices and make sure that you’ve downloaded and installed the most recent version of the app.

  1. Set up the Alexa app to prepare for Echo-to-Echo calls
    Once your app is up to date, it’ll walk you through the messaging setup process automatically upon first launch. You’ll just need to follow a few quick instructions, including confirming your name and phone number as well as enabling access to your contacts list.
  2. Make sure your contacts are correct in the Alexa app
    The Echo messaging feature uses your contacts to match a phone number to whatever name you’re telling Alexa to get in touch with. It then uses that number to identify the Alexa user you’re trying to reach — which is why you need to tell Amazon your phone number during setup.

That’s all well and good, but it won’t work if your contacts aren’t up to date. For instance, if you want to send a message to your mom’s Echo Dot, you’ll need to have an entry for “Mom” in your phone’s contacts, complete with the same phone number that she associated with her Alexa account. And hey, speaking of which…

  1. Make sure the person you’re calling is on board
    This obviously only works if both of you follow those first four steps, so you might need to call mom and walk her through through the process (or at least send this article her way).

Now for the sticking points — or at least the things you should be aware of:

When someone calls you, all of your Echo devices will ring. This includes any phones or tablets that have the Alexa app installed, since you can use those to take calls or listen to messages, too.
Your Echo will glow green when you have a new message. To hear it, just tell Alexa to play your messages.
Amazon will transcribe your messages in the Alexa app. The new messaging section of the Alexa app is a little like a voicemail in-box that lists your recent messages and conversations. For the messages, it’ll even include transcribed speech-to-text readouts of what was said — convenient when you aren’t able to listen to a message just then. Just be warned that the transcription accuracy is only so-so — you might need to decipher a confused phrase or two.
How to use your Amazon Echo to call someone’s mobile phone or landline
Echo-to-phone voice calls are possible on all Echo devices and most mobile and landline numbers in the US, UK, Canada and Mexico. Like Echo-to-Echo calls, connecting an Echo device and a phone is possible through simple voice commands.

Just say “Alexa, call (name of contact)” to call someone from your phone’s contact list. You can also specify which number to call if there are multiple numbers — say a work and a mobile number — under one contact. Simply say, “Alexa, call (name of contact) mobile” or “Alexa, call (name of contact) work.”

If you’re wanting to call a number that’s not saved in your contact list, say “Alexa, call (phone number).”

While Echo-to-phone calling is convenient and easy, it’s not limitless. Emergency services numbers (such as 911), premium-rate numbers or toll numbers (such as 1-900 numbers) and most international numbers except for the US, UK, Canda and Mexico cannot be called through Echo devices.

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