CNET Smart Home
Alexa introduces voice calling and messagingAmazon aims to turn the Echo into a communication hub for the smart home
Alexa call Ryan Christ. Okay. [SOUND] Hey Dave what's up? That's right the Amazon Echo just became the new home phone. Amazon just surprised users by allowing Echo to Echo calling and messaging for the first time. It just takes a quick Alexa app update and you should be good to go. But it doesn't just make calls. Alexa, send Rich Brown a message. What's the message? Well, the message is that Amazon is repositioning the Echo, not just as a smart home controller, or as a digital assistant, but really as a communications hub for the whole home. That means Amazon believes that Alexa, on the Echo, the Dot, and the App Has reached a critical mass of users. So exclusive communication lines between them is actually worthwhile. Think of it like FaceTime or iMessage requiring users to have an iPhone. Now, the update doesn't work for all Alexa-enabled devices. For instance, Alexa won't let your Ecobee thermostat, or your Amazon Tap call your friend But will this new feature turn the Amazon Echo speaker into a fixture in homes like home phones were 20 years ago? Only time will tell.