AT&T calling with Alexa will make your Amazon Echo a full-fledged home phone

Miss having a landline phone? Alexa's got AT&T customers covered.

David Priest Former editor
David Priest is an award-winning writer and editor who formerly covered home security for CNET.
David Priest
Tyler Lizenby/CNET

AT&T and Amazon are announcing a new feature that will allow customers of both to make and receive phone calls via their Amazon Echo smart speakers and displays. While Alexa can already facilitate Echo-to-Echo calls and can call out to most phone numbers (aside from emergency services), this will be one of the first times people can register their existing phone number to their Alexa account and receive phone calls directly on their Echo devices.

This announcement comes as Amazon ramps up its focus on Alexa's communication capabilities -- Zoom recently announced its video chat platform will be coming to Amazon's smart displays. In a climate of increased pandemic-driven isolation, other smart speakers and displays are making similar moves.

When it lands, the new AT&T calling with Alexa feature won't add much: it mainly fills out a calling feature with an odd gap built into it. But for AT&T customers who enjoy using their Alexa-driven smart speakers and displays to connect with family and friends, the update will be welcome.

"This is a big step forward in how Alexa can help U.S. customers stay connected with friends and family," said Amazon's Director of Alexa Communication, Brian Oliver. "We're excited to team up with AT&T to bring this feature to our shared customers."