When the first smart speakers, led by the Amazon Echo, appeared, there was some confusion at what they’d really be good for. These devices eventually became commonplace inside more modern homes but they initially lacked one feature people presumed they would have: making and taking phone calls. That also eventually arrived in one form or another but now Amazon and AT&T are making it easier by linking subscribers’ accounts with their Echo speakers for convenient hands-free calls.
Smart speakers seemed perfect for using as phone loudspeakers but their connected natures meant they were designed more for Internet calls like Skype. Amazon did offer a way to turn its speakers into phones back in 2017 but it required a separate device to connect the two worlds. Now Amazon is offering Echo owners a more direct way but only if they’re on AT&T.
AT&T customers can simply link their account with Amazon Alexa in the mobile app to get this new feature. The Verge reports that Amazon has already offered this in other countries and carriers, specifically UK’s EE and Germany’s Vodafone, but this is the first time it is rolling out in the US. Whether it remains an AT&T exclusive is the next big question.
With the Alexa and AT&T tie-up, users can do more than just make or receive calls on their Echo speakers. They can snooze calls with Alexa’s Away Mode or even schedule that by using Alexa Routines. It’s definitely an interesting way of putting phone calls under control, giving your AT&T landline a smartphone feel.
Of course, you can also do basic things like calling someone already on your address book or dictating a number (hopefully Alexa won’t mishear those). The speaker thankfully won’t automatically answer calls until you tell it to and even provides caller ID to let you identify those calls first.