Amazon is reportedly going to launch a new hardware product, or perhaps more than one, that will let users make and receive phone calls through the use of its Alexa voice assistant service. The new products, which could also serve as intercoms, are rumored to be released sometime later in 2017.
A few weeks ago, The Wall Street Journal reported that both Amazon and Google were considering adding voice call support for their Amazon Echo and Google Home connected speakers. Today’s story, from Recode, claims that Amazon has decided to move forward with the new Alexa-based voice call hardware, and added that the product is currently in beta testing. There’s no word on exactly when Amazon will launch these new devices, nor is there a price point. Amazon is currently selling its Echo speaker for $179.99, while the smaller Echo Dot is priced at $49.99.
It looks like Amazon is going to launch these devices even though there are some privacy concerns surrounding voice calls made through a connected speaker like the Echo. It’s likely that the new Alexa product would use a VoIP-based online system for making and receiving calls. Recode says that one former Amazon employee claimed that CEO Jeff Bezos has been very interested in VoIP systems, even before the launch of Alexa and the first Echo speaker. The success of the Echo has reportedly made Bezos even more interested in offering that technology to Alexa-based devices.
If Amazon does indeed add voice calls to a new version of the Echo later this year, you can bet that Google won’t be far behind with a similar update of the Home speaker, which uses Google Assistant. Both companies are becoming fierce rivals in this small but growing market, and that will likely continue for some time to come.
Would you like to make or receive voice calls at home with a connected speaker like the Echo or Home? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!