For about a year, Assistive staff has been writing blog series on the Amazon Echo.  The most recent featured blog was on “Ask My Buddy” application for Echo users. 

By now, if we haven’t convinced individuals that the Amazon Echo is a powerful assistive technology (AT) device, one of their newer features will!

Not too long ago, Amazon added a phone-call feature to its line of Echo devices.  However, calls were limited to only calling other Echo devices (Alexa-to-Alexa).  Not anymore!  The Amazon Echo can now be used to call mobile contacts, and most landlines and mobile phones for free to the US, Canada, and Mexico.  No additional hardware is needed; however, the most updated/latest version of the Alexa app will be needed on a smart phone.

The fun part is the other end of the phone call will know an Echo device is being used to make a call.  The recipient will see it is coming from the user’s cell phone number.  There is an ability to opt out of sharing your number so the recipient will see the call is from an “unknown caller”.

·         Now Echo users can just tell their Echo to call anyone in their mobile contact list or speak out a specific number to dial.  Hands free!

·         If users have the same contacts in their Alexa app as in their phone contacts, a call will automatically default to calling the Echo/Alexa app if not otherwise clarified.  For example when just using, “Alexa, call John” it will default to their Echo. But if you say, “Alexa, call John’s mobile” it will call his cell number.

·         If a phone number is not in the phone’s contact list, the actual phone number can be spoken.  For example, “Alexa, call 333-333-3333” and it will dial that number.

·         An Echo cannot be used to call 911 unless an additional Echo accessory, Echo Connect is used.

·         If your Alexa app is only on a tablet and not on a smart phone, this calling feature will not work.

·         Echo users cannot receive regular (landline or VOIP) phone calls through the Echo.  However, I am sure this feature along with many others will be coming soon.

·         Learn more about Alexa in the Amazon Help website.

So, as Amazon continues to add a steady stream of features/capabilities to its Echo devices, it will make things easier for all.  And for people with disabilities it will make things possible!

“Alexa, call 800-895-4728”.  That’s the number for Assistive if you would like to learn more about AT or try AT, or ways to afford AT devices.

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