The Amazon Echo Connect, which went on sale last year in the US and is set to launch in the UK in the coming months, lets you take and make calls over your landline – using your Amazon Echo devices as speakerphones.
That’s the basic premise at least, although there’s a lot more to it.
Whereas your Echo speakers already support calling to and from other Echo speakers your friends and family have in their houses – check out our guide to Drop Ins and Alexa Calling for more info on that – the Echo Connect is intended to open up your Alexa calling to the whole wide world – landlines, mobiles, emergency services, international numbers, VoIP… the whole shebang.
Amazon Echo Connect: How does it work
The Echo Connect is a little square box that has a telephone line jack on the back. Using a regular phone line and connecter, you can plug the Connect straight into your landline socket and, after setting things up in the Alexa app, receive and make calls through your Echo speakers, using your landline phone-number. In the box, you’ll get a double-jack socket, so you can have both the Echo Connect and your landline phone plugged in.
It only works with Amazon Echo speakers mind, not the third-party Alexa ones – and if you’re rocking an ancient Amazon Tap speaker, you’re out of luck too.
Hey Google: Making voice calls on Google Home
To make calls, it’s as easy as saying, "Alexa, call/dial [name/number]." Through the Alexa app, your smartphone contacts are synced – even though this is all powered through your landline and that’s the incoming number that will show on your recipient’s phone.
When someone calls you, Alexa – through your Echo speaker – will announce who’s calling if the contact is saved in your contacts or simply say “Incoming call" and your speaker’s light will be glow green. You can pick-up by saying, "Alexa, answer." You can also instruct her to ignore that call.
When you’re finished on your call you just need to say, "Alexa, hang up" and you’re done. If your Grandma hears this part before she hangs up, it will no doubt confuse the heck out of her.
Amazon Echo Connect: Beyond the landline
That’s part one. That’s the basic setup.
But you can do things a bit different. You can choose to have your smartphone number as the outgoing number, for example, even though the call is placed through the landline.
Confused? Strap-in, it gets murkier.
Instead of plugging into your landline directly, you can instead go straight into your router for VoIP calling (if your router has the correct RJ11 port) and you can also use a dedicated VoIP device like the Ooma Telo. In the States Amazon offers a bundle of the Telo with the Connect for $86.99.
Do you need an Echo Connect?
Chances are… no. The strange thing is that Alexa Calling received an update recently that allows you to call the phones of contacts who have linked their number to their Amazon account, on Android, iOS and Amazon versions of the Alexa app.
Before this update landed you could only use Alexa Calling and Drop Ins on your smartphone or Echo device.
What Connect offers beyond this is international calling, calls to emergency services and the ability to link your landline number to calls.
Amazon Echo Connect: Price and release date
As mentioned up top, the Echo Dot is already on sale in the US – where it costs $34.99. There’s no word yet on when exactly it will arrive in the UK, nor how much it will cost.
We’ll keep this story updated though so be sure to check back for the all-important launch details.