Amazon Plans To Release New Alexa Devices That Can Make Phone Calls and Work As Intercoms

Alexa is popular, but daily usage is key.

Amazon plans to unveil one or more new Alexa-powered devices this year that will allow people to initiate phone calls by voice, according to multiple sources.

The device, or devices, will also allow people to talk with others on the opposite end of another Alexa device through a feature that could serve as an intercom system, these people said.

As of last month, the new hardware was in beta testing inside of Amazon. Sources say they expect an announcement in the coming months. An Amazon spokesperson declined to comment.

While the Echo and Echo Dot have been arguably the hottest new consumer products in the U.S. over the last year, Amazon needs to give consumers more reasons to use them on a daily or semi-daily basis.

While some use cases like music streaming and weather updates are popular on the Echo today, thousands of the other Alexa “skills” — or voice apps — have had a lot of trouble gaining traction, according to a recent study.

Some see communication features as potential killer apps for voice devices, and phone calls and intercom-like functionality will be a start.

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SOURCE: Re/code – Jason Del Rey