Amazon Echo owners in the UK will now be able to make outgoing calls directly from their Alexa device for the first time. Available in the US for some time, the feature allows outbound calls to be made to any mobile or residential number in the UK, US, Canada or Mexico at no additional cost.
For the service to work, customers link their mobile number to their Alexa account, which will then provide the option to call a member of your contacts. This service is therefore not technically free as it will be linked to your existing mobile plan.
The feature will work in tandem with the messaging functionality already available on Echo devices.
Until now, UK users could only place calls to other Alexa devices, a feature which provides novelty yet has limited functionality considering the majority of households still do not own a smart speaker.
However, Vodafone Red customers in the UK will get the option of linking their smartphone contract to an Echo device - meaning they can make and receive calls with Alexa using their existing plan.
The service, known as OneNumber, will allow people to use their current mobile number, enabling seamless communication between devices. Vodafone Red plans currently start at £22 per month, which gets you unlimited calls and texts alongside 1GB of data.
People will be afforded flexibility in how they set up OneNumber, meaning they can choose which devices will ring during an incoming call, while disabling calls is simple to set up. The service will also function independently of the device where the number is registered, so an empty phone battery will not have any adverse effect.
It is the first time people will be able to make and receive mobile calls hands-free in their homes, and it is hoped that this functionality will help Alexa devices replace landlines in the future.
These services add to Amazon’s existing roster of communication services available through Echo devices, which include Drop-in, Skype integration and Announcements.