All Amazon Echo devices, including the Echo Dot, Echo Show, and the new next generation Echo models, can now make landline phone calls to the US, Canada, and Mexico completely for free without needing anything extra to buy. This is an expansion of the Alexa-to-Alexa calling capabilities released earlier this year which now lets you call regular phone numbers, whether or not the person you are calling has ever used an Alexa device.
When calling capabilities were first added to Echo devices, you needed to use an Echo device or the Alexa app to either send or receive a call. The person you were calling had to have at least set up the feature through the Alexa app and ideally owned an Echo device. Now anyone with an Echo device can call nearly any phone number in the US, Canada, and Mexico using the Echo device and the call is completely free.
To make a call to a landline, you need to first go through the calling setup in the Alexa app by selecting the conversations tab in the app. You will need to give the app access to your phone contacts, so that you can call people by name, and you may be asked to verify your phone number via text message. Number verification is required because when you call a phone number with an Echo device, the person you are calling will see your mobile phone number show up. There will be no indication to them that you are calling through an Echo device and not through your mobile phone. If you prefer, you can opt-out of showing your phone number to the person you’re calling, in which case they’ll see “unknown caller” appear on their phone when you call.
Once you’ve gone through the calling set up in the Alexa app, you’ll be able to simply ask Alexa to call anyone in your phones contact list by name. If the person you are calling has also set up Alexa-to-Alexa calling, it will default to calling their Alexa devices if you just say “Alexa, call [name]” without specifying which number/device you’d like to call.
It’s probably best to get in the habit of asking to call specific devices, so there are no surprises. If you want to call a person’s Echo device or Alexa app, you should say “Alexa, call [name]’s Echo.” To ensure you are calling a person’s mobile/landline phone number, you should say “Alexa, call [name]’s mobile/home/work/office.” Lastly, you can also speak out the number you want to call if it’s not in your phone’s contacts by saying “Alexa, call 2-1-3-5-5-5-1-2-3-4”. Just be sure to include the area code.
If there are multiple people in your home and they have each set up calling through the Alexa app, you will need to switch profiles on your Alexa device to ensure you are accessing the correct person’s contact list. You do this by saying “Alexa, switch to [name]’s profile.” Another reason to ensure you’re using your own profile, and not a family member’s, is that the person receiving the phone call will see the phone number of the profile that is currently selected on the Echo device show up on their caller ID.
While in a phone call through an Echo device, you can say “Alexa, turn the volume up/down” to adjust the volume of the Echo device. To hang up the call, you can say “Alexa, hang up.” Just realize that the person you are talking to will hear you give either of those commands. If you press the mute button on your Echo device during a phone call, it will disable the microphone so the person you are talking to will no longer hear you, but you will still be able to hear them.
You are currently not able to call a phone number through the Alexa app. You must use an Echo device for that. The Alexa app can only initiate Alexa(App)-to-Alexa(App) calls or Alexa(App)-to-Echo(device) calls to people in your contact list who have set up Alexa calling already. You also cannot use either the Alexa app or an Echo device to call “N-1-1” numbers (e.g., 911, 411, 211), “1-900” numbers, or international numbers.
Echo devices also can’t receive phone calls from landline/mobile phones. For that, you’ll need to buy the newly announced Echo Connect for $34.99 and connect it to your home landline. With an Echo Connect installed, your Echo devices will announce when someone is calling your landline, which you can then choose to answer through your Echo device or ignore the call. The Echo connect will also allow you to call 911 and international numbers through your Echo device, but you will be using your home landline to make those calls, and not Amazon’s free service.