Amazon may have the current leader of the digital assistant devices with their Echo hardware and Alexa assistant, but they aren’t sitting back letting their position go to their heads. They’ve continued to add features and skills to make Alexa even more helpful. Amazon has recently launched Alexa calling and messaging, allowing you to use your Echo, Echo Dot, or even your Alexa app to call or text your contacts.
This feature is rolling out with the newest Alexa app update on iOS and Android. Once you update, you’ll need to give Alexa access to your contacts for the feature to work. You’ll also need for your friends and family to do the same, Alexa will only be able to call or message contacts that have followed the same setup procedures and opt in.
Once those steps are out of the way though, you can call or text your contacts by simply asking Alexa. The secret code words will be, surprisingly enough, “Alexa, call Justin” or “Alexa, send Justin a message.” Answering a call or message is just as easy, with “Alexa, answer the call” and “Alexa, play my messages” handling those duties. Calling capabilities appear to light your Echo LED green, versus the default blue when Alexa is simply listening to your questions and requests.
This rollout could just be a precursor and live test phase before the video and voice calling reported in the new Echo Show. The huge install base of Echo and Echo Dot users should be able to give Amazon an idea of how these services will work, giving them some time to button up any issues before the Echo Show launch on June 28th. You can see these features in action in the video below.
If your contacts don’t have an Echo device, no problem. They can simply install and use the Alexa app. If you maybe want to get your parents up and going with Alexa, you can take care of everybody in one shot. Amazon is currently offering a $20 discount if you purchase 3 Echo Dot devices and enter the promo code “DOT3PACK” at checkout. Limit one 3-pack per customer, and the offer will end on June 10th. You may not be able to get your Dots in time for Mother’s Day this Sunday, but you’ll have plenty of time to get your order ahead of Father’s Day next month. Or, just add to your Echo collection with a few extra Dots with a nice discount.