Amazon has a new Echo accessory that turns your Echo speaker into a voice-controlled speakerphone.
It's called Echo Connect, and before it came along, you could only make calls from one Echo speaker to another Echo speaker, kind of like an intercom system. But now, you can call a contact from your phone's address book, another landline number such as local businesses, and even place international and emergency calls.
Here's everything you need to know about Echo Connect.
What is Echo Connect?
Amazon has announced "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 speaker to call anyone, and it'll dial him or her through your Echo Connect.
Echo Connect 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 Alexa app on your mobile device (this lets Alexa stay in sync with your device's address book, so it can call people and announce who is calling).
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How does Echo Connect work?
Details are thin at the moment, but from what we can tell, you connect the Echo Connect to your phone line via a phone jack and then sync your contacts to the Alexa app on your phone. The app will also find and connect your Echo Connect with your Echo speaker so that you can simply ask Alexa to call a contact or a number.
Place a call
With Echo Connect and a compatible Echo device, you can ask Alexa to call anyone using your phone landline at home. Echo Connect uses your number, either landline or VoIP, so that friends and family can recognise who is calling on their caller ID. All you have to do is say, "Alexa, call [contact's] mobile" or "Alexa, dial [phone number]".
Again, the contacts on your mobile device will stay in sync with Alexa, so you'll never have to look up a number stored on your phone's address book. As long as you're using the Alexa app, Alexa will remember your contacts.
Answer a call
You can not only place calls through Echo Connect but also receive them on your Echo speaker. Your home phone will ring, but if you're cooking and want to talk hands-free, just say, "Alexa, answer the phone." When you receive a call from someone in your contact list, Alexa will announce who is calling, which is handy.
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 will cost $34.99 when it launches in the US.
When will Echo Connect be available?
The Echo Connect will ship to US costumers from 13 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.
Want to know more?
Check out Pocket-lint's guide for more about how the Echo's intercom feature - aka Alexa calling and messaging - works.