In my explanation of the Drop In feature of the upcoming Echo Show I mention it can be used as an intercom, but all Amazon Echos and Echo Dots can already be used to call each other in the same house thanks to the new calling features. Here’s how it works.
To call someone using an Echo or Echo Dot, you just have to say “Alexa, call [name]” to initiate the call. Their Echo devices, and their mobile devices that have the Alexa app installed, will ring. If you ask to call yourself or someone else in your Amazon household, all of your own Echo devices will ring, even if you are using your own Echo device to initiate the call.
This ability to call yourself could be used as a way to talk to other Echo devices in the same house, but the issue is that the mobile devices that have the Alexa app installed will also ring. This means that, if someone in the house wants to make an internal Echo-to-Echo call while the account owner is not home, the account owner will see the call request on their phone and think they’re being called.
Amazon has thought of this issue and solves it by allowing you to say “Alexa, call home.” If you ask to call “home” instead of yourself, all of the echos associated with your account will ring but mobile devices with the Alexa app installed will not ring. With the other Echos in the house ringing, anyone in the home can answer the call through one of the ringing Echo devices and have an internal Echo-to-Echo conversation.
One way this could be improved is if Amazon allowed you to select a specific Echo to call, so all Echos do not ring. Unfortunately, that option is not yet available. However, it does seem like Amazon is thinking ahead and plans to improve internal communication between Echos. If you ask an Echo to send “home” a message, which is something you can do with contacts, Alexa responds with “you can’t message your home or other homes yet.” Emphasis on “yet.”
The perfect Echo based intercom would allow you to select exactly which Echo you want to speak with and not require someone on the receiving end to accept the call before the caller’s voice is heard. The auto-answering aspect of the drop in feature on the Echo Show has the potential to achieve this behavior, but we’ll have to wait until that device and/or feature is released before knowing exactly how it’ll work in this regard.