Alexa brings free phone calls to iPad


Alexa Calling
iPads can now make video calls to Amazon Echo devices.
Photo: Amazon

Although people most often use Alexa to ask about the weather or play music, Amazon’s smart assistant is capable of much more, including connecting with friends and family.  A convenient Alexa calling feature is now available on a range of tablets, including the iPad. This allows the tablet to make voice or video calls to an Amazon Echo.

All that is required is the Amazon Alexa app for iOS (and giving Alexa access to your list of contacts).

“With the Alexa App, you can call and message Amazon Echo device owners and anyone with the Alexa App on their phone,” Amazon says in the App Store description of the app. “When you’re away from home, use the app to make a quick call or send a message to your family’s Echo. “

Echo devices can make calls to landlines. However, the Alexa app is currently limited to calling other gadgets with Alexa. Everything takes place over Wi-Fi, so you do not need cellular access (or to burn minutes on your data plan). You can make video calls if the receiving device has a screen, like the Echo Spot or the Echo Show.

When using an Echo device, all that’s necessary to make a call is to say, for example, “Alexa, call Mom.” The process with an iPad is more complex.

To make an Alexa call on iPad, first open the Alexa app. Then go to the Conversations menu and tap on the Contacts icon to bring up a list of available people. To make the connection, hit the Call button (or the Video button if available).

Or just use Alexa Drop In feature on iPad

Amazon also points out that users of the Alexa app can also use the service’s Drop In feature. “Use Drop In to instantly connect with your Alexa devices to … call home or to let the family know it’s time for dinner,” Amazon says.

Drop In allows an Echo to work like a walkie-talkie, making voice calls that connect automatically. An iPad can make these calls but not receive them.

All of these Alexa Calling features are free to use, as is the Amazon Alexa iOS app.

This assumes you haven’t locked your Echo in a drawer after Alexa terrified you with her creepy laugh.