(Pocket-lint) - Amazon has a new Echo accessory that turns your Echo speaker into a voice-controlled speakerphone: the Echo Connect.
Before it came along, you could only make calls from one Echo speaker to another Echo speaker, like an intercom system. Now, with Connect, you can call a contact from your phone's address book, another landline number such as local biz, and place international and emergency calls.
Here's everything you need to know about Echo Connect.
What is Echo Connect?
Amazon now offers "Alexa Gadgets", which are Echo-branded accessories. One of the first gadgets is Echo Connect. It connects to your existing phone line or VoIP and allows your Echo speaker to act as a speakerphone. You can ask Alexa via your Echo device to call anyone, and it'll dial him or her through your Echo Connect using your phone landline. It even handles international and emergency calls.
Does Echo Connect require anything?
If you want to use the Echo Connect, you need three things:
A phone landline or VoIP, a compatible Echo speaker (such as the Echo, Echo Plus, Echo Dot, Echo Spot, or Echo Show), and the Amazon Alexa app on your smartphone (this lets Alexa stay in sync with your device's address book, so it can call people and announce who is calling).
- Amazon Echo (original) vs Echo Tap vs Echo Dot vs Echo Look vs Echo Show vs Echo (2017) vs Echo Plus vs Echo Spot: What's the difference?
How does Echo Connect work?
With Echo Connect and a compatible Echo device, you can ask Alexa to call anyone using your phone landline at home. Echo Connect routes call through your number, either landline or VoIP, so that friends and family recognise who is calling on their caller ID.
- Open the Amazon Alexa app and sign up for Alexa Calling and Messaging. Learn more about that from here.
- Turn on Echo Connect. First, plug the included power adapter into Echo Connect and then into a power outlet. The power LED light on the top will be solid when it has power.
- Connect Echo Connect to a phone jack. You need to plug one end of the included telephone cable into the back of the Echo Connect, and then plug the other end of the cable into a standard telephone jack (for landline phone service), or a Wi-Fi router (for digital phone service), or a analogue telephone adapter (for VoIP phone service)
- If you want to share a phone jack between Echo Connect and a handset, use the included splitter. You can plug the splitter into your Echo Connect. One port of the splitter will connect to a phone jack (on the wall, VoIP adapter, or the router), and the remaining port will connect to your home phone.
- Complete Wi-Fi setup in the Amazon Alexa app. Learn more about that from here.
Place a call
With Echo Connect and a compatible Echo device, you can ask Alexa to call anyone using your phone landline at home. All you have to do is say, "Alexa, call [contact's] mobile" or "Alexa, dial [phone number]". The contacts on your smartphone will stay in sync, thanks to the Amazon Alexa app, so you'll never have to look up a number. As long as you're using the app, Alexa will remember your contacts.
- Make call: "Alexa, call [contact name]."
- Place call a contact's specific phone type (such as home, cell, and work): "Alexa, call John's cell phone."
- Call a phone number: "Alexa, call [number]."
- Call 911 in the US: "Alexa, call 911."
Answer a call
You can not only place calls through Echo Connect but also receive them on your Echo speaker. When you receive a call, your home phone will ring, Alexa will announce who is calling, the light ring on your Echo device will turn green, and a ringtone will sound.
Here are some Alexa commands you can say:
- Answer the call: Just say, "Answer" or "Answer the phone".
- Ignore the call: Just say, "Ignore.”
Are there any fees?
No. Amazon doesn't charge you to place or receive a call with Echo Connect, though you will still need to buy a home phone landline or VoIP package from your local telecom provider.
How much is Echo Connect?
Echo Connect costs $34.99 in the US.
When will Echo Connect be available?
The Echo Connect launched in the US in December 2017. It won't launch in the UK until sometime in early 2018.
- Go here to sign up for a notification of availability from Amazon UK.