How to … make free voice calls and send messages through Amazon Echo

Got an Amazon Echo? Then you could get free calls

Make free calls with the Amazon Echo

Make free calls with the Amazon Echo

 

Have you got onboard with smart speakers yet? Devices such as the Amazon Echo can control everything from your shopping lists to your smart home, all through voice control. But the Echo also has one other handy feature: it can give you free calls.

Well, within reason. The person you’re calling needs to have an Echo too, or have Alexa app set up on their phone. Then you can either call and message their Echo or their app.

The simplest way to do this is to use the Echo’s voice control. “Alexa, send a message to David”, and dictate your message, or “Alexa, call dad.” You need never touch your phone.

To make a call using the app, open the Alexa app and select the speech bubble from the menu options across the bottom of the screen. That opens the calling and messaging menu.

On the top right corner, you’ll see a person icon. Select that to open a list of contacts. Scroll down to the contact you want to call and select their name. You’ll get their name, phone number and three icons that correspond to messages, calls and video calls - provided that person has a video enabled Echo device such as the Show or Spot.

Simply select messages to start a text conversation, or the call icon to place a voice call. You’ll need an internet connection to do either successfully.

Once you’ve sent your message, your recipient can pick it up either on their mobile device through the app or on the Echo itself. The Echo will also display a light.

You may also have noticed an option on your contacts to allow them drop in on your Echo devices. Another thing you can do with the Echo is turn each Amazon smart speaker into a two way intercom system. In the same way you can “call” a contact, you can also “drop in” on speakers around your home, and let select contacts do the same if you wish.

When you drop in on an Echo, you get a bit of warning before the microphone kicks in. It takes a couple of seconds to connect, and a tone is played on the target speaker, before the microphone is activated. So once the volume is turned up, you’ll get a warning. Amazon has also put a warning light on the Echo when the drop in feature is activated.

If there is one speaker you never want anyone to be able to drop in on, go the app, select Alexa Devices, choose a speaker and under Communications, and set Drop in to off.

If it’s a temporary break, you can set it to Do Not Disturb. To do that, either use voice commands (“Alexa do not disturb me”) or go the app, select Alexa Devices, choose a speaker and turn Do Not Disturb to on.