Alexa is a brilliant communicator – and is loaded with features for talking to your friends and family. Drop In and Alexa Announcements make a great home intercom system, and you can use Alexa Calling to make phone calls too.
Drop In enables you to speak to anyone in the home – to see what time dinner’s ready, whether the kids are in from school, or to demand the delivery of a cup of tea upstairs. You can Drop In from work or the pub using your smartphone, different rooms via different Amazon Echo devices.
And what’s more – it’s not even confined to your own home. You can Drop In on friends and relatives with Alexa, or if they’re not ready to have you appear in their living rooms unchecked, use Alexa Calling instead.
Alexa Announcements is a brand new feature, which lets you broadcast messages to your Echo speakers – without the right to reply.
Must read: The complete Alexa missing manual
What is Alexa Drop In and how do you enable it?
Drop In enables you call up one of the Alexa devices from within your household. It can be used to check in with home, rather than calling specific people, or as an intercom between Alexa devices in other rooms, which can be handy, especially in larger homes. If your contact has an Echo Show or Echo Spot, you can drop in via video as well.
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While Drop In has become somewhat of a catch-all term when it comes to calling Alexa devices, it generally only really applies to your Echo speakers registered to your Alexa app. However, friends and family can allow you to Drop In on them, too. That means you will connect to their device to chat via two-way audio/video at will, without them answering/accepting the call.
How do you sign up?
We’re going to assume that you’ve got the Alexa app downloaded and got your Amazon Echo all hooked up. So the next thing to do is sign up for Alexa Calling and Messaging, which you do in the Alexa app. At the bottom, tap the Conversations tab, denoted by that little speech bubble, and sign up.
Which Alexa devices support Drop In and Calling?
- Amazon Echo (1st and 2nd generation)
- Amazon Echo Dot (1st and 2nd generation)
- Amazon Echo Show
- Amazon Echo Spot
- Amazon Echo Plus
How to start a Drop In from your Alexa device
You don’t have to do all this from your smartphone, and naturally, you can ask Alexa to Drop In on a device. To do this just say “Alexa, Drop In on [insert the name of your speaker]” to start a call. This only works for devices within your home, and to Drop In on wider contacts, things are done slightly differently…
How to Drop In on friends and family...
Providing your contacts have approved you for Drop In, you can say “Alexa, Drop In on [contact name]”. Just make sure you name them as they appear in your address book.
How to start a Drop In from your smartphone
To Drop In to a contact from your smartphone, just head to the Alexa app and go to the Conversations tab. You’ll see a big Drop In menu, which you tap to see a quick list of all Alexa devices you’re cleared to access. If, for whatever reason, you can’t see the one you’re looking for, you can hit the contact icon at the top right, choose the person from your address book and Drop In from there.
Start an Alexa Announcement
Similar to Drop In, a brand new Alexa feature is the ability to broadcast to your Amazon Echo devices around your home. Like Drop In, Announcement mode enabled you to connect to other Echo speakers without someone answering, but it's not two-way audio. The idea is that you can send out a PSA to your home – "dinner's ready", "leaving in five minutes", "turn that music down now" – that kind of thing.
Essential guide: What is Amazon Echo Connect?
The feature is rolling out slowly, so you might not have access to it yet. But to make an Alexa Announcement just say to your Echo speaker "Alexa, announce that [message]." Your voice will ring out of your other Echo speakers.
Alexa Calling and Messaging
Obviously, just freely connecting to Alexa devices is fine in your own home, but you might not want your mum having the power to Drop In uninvited. Luckily, that’s an opt-in arrangement. However, you can still give your family and friends a ring on their Alexa device, using Alexa Calling. This enables you to make a call or send a message to the Alexa device of anyone in your contacts list (so long as they’ve set themselves up for Alexa Calling as well).
The Alexa Messaging service also delivers the message to your contact’s Alexa app, as well as their Echo device. Using the same voice detection technology as Alexa, your message will be transcribed into text and sent as a message within the Conversations tab.
How to make a call with Alexa
To call up the Amazon Echo of a contact, head to the Alexa app and tap on Conversations. Choose the contacts button (little person icon in the top right) and you’ll see a list of all your chums who have registered Echos. You might be surprised how many there are. Tap on a friend and then press the telephone icon. You’ll call their Echo, not their phone, as it’s slightly confusingly labelled.