Starting today you can make calls and send messages through Alexa on your Fire, Android or iOS tablet as well as all the Echo devices in your home, making it easier than ever to ditch your landline or even your smartphone when you need to get in touch with someone.
Echos have been able to call each other since last year, using commands as simple as "Alexa, call Dad", but now the same functionality is heading to tablets with the Alexa app installed. Again, a simple voice command is all that's needed once you've granted the app access to your contacts.
Audio calls and messages are supported, as are video calls, as long as you're trying to reach someone with a screen at the other end (so an Echo Spot will work but not a regular Echo speaker). As all of this works over Wi-Fi, there are no extra charges.
For the time being this is only an Alexa-to-Alexa feature – in other words, the person at the other end of the call needs something with Alexa installed, whether that's an Echo Dot in the corner of the bedroom or a phone with the Alexa app on it.
Right now you still need an Echo device to make calls to landlines and mobile numbers, and you need to be in the US, Mexico or Canada too. Bear that in mind if you're desperately trying to get your iPad to put a call through to your local takeaway (in that situation you're still best off picking up the phone).
The Drop In feature is also coming to tablets running Amazon's Fire OS, Android or iOS, if it's enabled at the other end – so you can instantly connect an audio or video call from your tablet if you're on a pre-approved list of contacts.