Amazon upped the antics today when it launched the Echo Show, a Echo speaker that also sports a screen. In a bid to make its devices more appealing to the masses, the company has also announced Alexa Calling, a service that will allow users to make free voice calls and messages through all Echo devices.
Folks who use the Alexa app for smartphones will also be able to benefit from the announcement. The feature is already official and sports a Coming Soon ticker on its product page however, we now know that it will be coming online as early as today itself.
Also, the Amazon Echo Show has a couple of higher powered services as well. For instance, there is one called Drop In that allows you to make a call to someone and have it picked up without them needing to answer it. So, say you are calling someone else’s Echo Show and they are not around to answer the call, you can still hear/see what is going on at their place.
If you feel this is kind of creepy, well, we can relate to you and so, it seems can Amazon. The company has clarified that it is an opt-in service only and it will serve as a bridge between very close friends and family members only. So, you can use the feature to stay in touch with your parents and so on. You can also place one in your kid’s room and keep an eye on what he is doing from time to time by, dropping in, and hence the name of the feature.
As far as the free calling is concerned, you can get onto a free call with a friend provided that both of you have enabled the feature on your respective smartphones using app. Free calling on landlines is not supported quite yet but who knows. Meanwhile, messages received by you will show up on the screen for Amazon Show and be recited by the Amazon Echo speakers.
Meanwhile, calling and messaging will of course make Amazon’s devices all the more useful. Instead of a landline, you can now have an Echo! The company could eventually open it to landline and mobile calling even when the other person does not have the app on his/her phone and charge a monthly subscription, opening up yet another revenue stream for the company.