(Pocket-lint) - Whether you have an Echo speaker or an Echo device with a screen, you can take advantage one of Amazon's coolest Alexa features: Drop In.
With Drop In, you're able to instantly connect to any of your Echo devices (or a contact's Echo device, if they've granted permission). There's no need for someone to answer the call, it just sounds on their speaker. This is handy if you can't get ahold of grandma and want to literally see or hear if she's OK.
Maybe you're at work and want to Drop In at home to check on Fido and make sure he hasn't torn apart the house. Either way, it's useful to be able to Drop In and say, "Hi", especially if the recipient isn't able to physically answer their Echo device.
But Amazon has also included plenty of safeguards for users so that they aren't caught in embarrassing situations or maybe want more control over their privacy.
What is Drop In?
Drop In is a feature that lets you instantly connect with an Echo device, including a contact's, as long as they have granted permission for you to do so. For instance, you can Drop In on any Echo device you own, or you can Drop In on a Echo device that your parents own. When you Drop In on an Echo device, the device's light ring will pulse green and then the device will bleep and bloop automatically connect.
You will be able to hear anything within the range of the device. Similarly, if you and your contact are using Echo devices with screens, you both will see anything within range of your devices.
You both will also hear an alert sound and then see a frosted glass video that transitions to a clear video shortly after connecting, which gives everyone time to prepare for the abrupt video call. (Phew!)
How do you set up Drop In?
Open the Amazon Alexa app on your iOS or Android device and go to the Communicate screen (chat bubble icon from the bottom nav bar). You can see the Drop In icon there and select from your own devices.
To contact others, you need to sign up for Alexa Calling and Messaging. You will need to confirm your name, enable access to your contact list, and verify your phone number through SMS. Alexa uses your phone's address book to find people you know who have the Amazon Alexa app or an Echo device, so there's no need to enter contacts.
You then need to enable Drop In for the contact you want and have that contact enable Drop In for you. Go to the Conversation screen (chat bubble icon from the bottom nav bar), select Contacts (person icon), tap one of the available contacts, and then toggle on the "Allow Drop In" switch at the bottom of their contact card.
Also, when you enable Drop In and grant permission to your Echo devices, it will apply to all your household members. In other words, if you grant permission to grandma, she will be to Drop In on you and anyone in your Amazon Household. So, if your Echo Show is on your husband's profile or your kid's profile for a moment, grandma can still Drop In on your device at any time to say, "Hi".
Note: You can also toggle the Drop In switch from a contact's card via the Echo Show.
How do you use Drop In with Echo devices?
Drop In on your Echo devices
- Say to your Echo device, "Alexa, Drop In on Home."
You can Drop In and call between all the Echo devices in your home or office. So, if you have more than two devices, you can specify the device you want to connect with by name ("Alexa, Drop In on [name of Echo device]"), or you can just say, “Alexa, Drop In on Home,” then Alexa will list all the Echo devices that are in your home, and you can choose which one you want to Drop In on.
Drop In on your contact's Echo devices
- Say to your Echo device, "Alexa, Drop In on [contact's name]."
Before you can use Drop In with your contacts who own an Echo device, you need to get them to download and open the Amazon Alexa app on their mobile device and then sign up for Alexa Calling and Messaging. They then need to Enable Drop In for you. Once that's done, you can simply say, "Alexa, Drop In on [contact's name]" - but say the name exactly how it appears in your contact list.
Drop In using the Amazon Alexa app
Open the the Amazon Alexa app, then go to the Conversation screen (chat bubble icon from the bottom nav bar), and tap Drop In. You will be presented with a list of your Echo devices you can Drop In on and contacts you can Drop In on at any time. Simply select one to initiate a Drop In. You will then be able to see or hear whatever is in range of the connected Echo device via the Amazon Alexa app.
What does 'recently active' mean?
If household members or contacts have been granted Drop In permission, they will see a recently active indicator on their Echo Show. This displays whether someone is nearby your Echo devices. You will see this same indicator for your contacts if they're nearby their Echo device. Amazon said it uses motion sensors on the Echo Show to determine whether the device has been recently active.
Can you turn off video at all?
Yes. If you're using an Echo Show or Echo Spot, you can turn off the video at any point during the Drop In by saying, "Video off" or by touching the screen and selecting the Video off button. You can also turn off video if you're using the Amazon Alexa app by selecting the Video off button. Many recent Echo Show devices now have a privacy slider - if this is closed then naturally video cannot be seen by the caller.
Can you block Drop In calls?
Yes. To block Drop In calls, you can say, “Alexa, disable Drop In for my household”. This will disable Drop In within the household. In order to disable Drop In for a contact, set Drop In to off on the contact card of the contact. To temporarily block call Drop Ins on a device, turn on Do Not Disturb (simply say, "Alexa, do not disturb"). Go here to learn more about how to schedule the Do Not Disturb function.