It is already possible to make calls using Alexa's own internet connection. But now you can link your cell phone to an Echo speaker and use that to make and receive hands-free calls.
Called 'carrier calling with Alexa', the feature has been offered for Vodafone and EE customers in the UK and Germany for a while, but is now available in the US for the first time.
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From today, AT&T customers can link their Alexa devices to their phone number. Once set up, you can ask Alexa on any nearby Echo device to call contacts by saying their name, or anyone by reading out the number you want Alexa to dial.
The call will then be made using your AT&T number, but through Alexa's internet connection. Incoming calls will be announced by Alexa, which will say who's calling (or read out the number if it isn't one of your contacts). Then just say "Alexa, answer" to take the call through your Echo speaker.
Because the call comes through the Echo's Wi-Fi connection instead of your phone's cell service, the system works even if your phone is switched off – which may be a blessing or a curse, of course, but it's a useful feature if your phone battery has run out without you realizing.
We can see the feature being most useful when someone calls while you are busy, or your phone is in another room. Just ask Alexa to take the call, and you can chat while continuing to prepare dinner, or whatever stopped you from grabbing your phone in the first place.
To set this up with your AT&T number and Echo device, follow these instructions:
- Open the Alexa smartphone app
- Tap on More in the lower-right corner
- Tap on Settings
- Scroll to the Alexa Preferences section and tap on Communication
- Tap on the + icon next to AT&T and follow the steps to link your number to Alexa
If you aren't an AT&T customer, remember you can still communicate with Alexa and your Echo speaker by using the Drop In function, or by calling your contacts through your Wi-Fi connection. This partnership with AT&T simply means calls to your cell phone can also be routed through Alexa devices.
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