I love my Amazon Echo Show device for a lot of reasons. It cycles through my favorite photos to remind me of better times. It lets me watch shows and movies while I’m cooking or doing chores. I can even get video news briefings, check the weather, and watch YouTube through an actual web browser like Mozilla’s Firefox or Amazon’s Silk (hello Google/Nest?). However, hands-down, one of the neatest things it can do is easy peasy, hands-free video calling with Alexa. I’ll show you how simple it is to make a video call on an Echo Show device in the steps below.
How to set up Alexa calling and messaging
Before you can start making video or audio calls on your Echo Show device, you’ll need to set up the capability within the Alexa app itself.
- Open the Alexa app on your smartphone.
- Please tap on the Communicate button on the bottom menu bar (it looks like a chat bubble).
Tap on the people icon at the top right of the screen.
- Tap on My Communication Settings.
- Tap on your Mobile to enter and verify your phone number.
- Grant Amazon permission to use your phone’s calling and messaging capabilities.
Import your phone’s contact list when prompted so that Alexa can call who you ask her to.
Now you can start communicating with your contacts from the Alexa app or your Echo or Echo Show intelligent speakers.
Calling isn’t just for smart speakers. It’s also worth pointing out that once you’ve enabled these communication features in your Alexa app and imported your contacts, you can make free voice calls to any mobile phone or landline to anyone between the U.S., Mexico, and Canada.
So even if grandma doesn’t have an Echo or a smartphone, you can still ask Alexa to call her if your hands are full while washing dishes or folding laundry. The only catch here, and it’s an important one, is that you can’t use Alexa or an Echo device to call emergency services (i.e., 911). There are a couple of caveats here, though. On Amazon’s support forums, some users have said that if you add 911 to your phone’s contacts, Alexa will be able to dial that number for you upon request. Alternatively, Alexa can contact emergency services on your behalf with Amazon’s new Alexa Guard Plus service.
Now that you’ve set up your communication preferences within the Alexa app, let’s make that first video call.
How to make a video call on an Amazon Echo
- From your Echo Show device, ask Alexa to call one of your contacts.
- The person you are calling will see an image/card of you with the option to accept or reject the call by tapping on their Echo Show home screen buttons or saying “Alexa answer” or “Alexa ignore.”
- When the call starts, say “video on” or press the video camera icon on the screen.
- If at any point you want to turn off the video only, you can say “video off” or press the video camera icon again.
- When you are ready to hang up, say, “Alexa, hang up.”
So easy, right? Any of your contacts who also have an Amazon Echo device with communication preferences enabled will be able to hear your voice during a call. If they use an Echo Show or the Alexa app on their smartphone, they can engage in a video call with you if they so choose.
The other neat trick you can do with the best Alexa speakers is to use an Alexa-specific feature called Drop-In. Drop-In can be used within your own home between multiple Echos as a sort of intercom system, where you could say, “Alexa, drop in on Amy’s room” so you can let Amy know that she still needs to do the dishes.
Alternatively, if your friends or family have the Drop-In feature enabled on their Echo devices and opt to accept Drop-In calls from you, you can ask Alexa to “drop in on mom” so that you can check in and make sure your mother is doing okay