Amazon’s new Alexa Calling feature lets you make a call without using a phone

Smart Home fails Amazon Echo Show

Who says you need a phone to make a call? Certainly not Amazon, which has not only debuted its new Echo Show with touchscreen, but also a handy feature to go along with it. Thanks to Alexa Calling, you’ll now be able to make free voice calls through the Show, as well as other Echo devices. And if you have the Alexa app on your smartphone, you can also rely on that to make phone calls.

The Alexa Calling page may say that the feature is coming soon, but according to an Amazon spokesperson, soon means now. A representative told TechCrunch that the eager public can expect the new functionality at some point on Tuesday, May 9, so even though you can’t get Amazon’s latest hardware offering for another few months, you can get this software to tide you over.

“Making calls with Alexa is easy. Just ask Alexa to place a call,” Amazon says on its product page. “Alexa will let you know when someone is calling, and a green light ring will appear on your supported Echo device. You can ask Alexa to answer or ignore the call.”

Once you do get your hands on an Echo Show, you can take advantage of an exclusive feature known as Drop In, which will let you “connect instantly with your closest family and friends.” Really, that means you can virtually “drop in” on them and chat any time, even if they don’t answer the phone.

But don’t worry — that doesn’t mean that just anyone will be able to randomly drop in on you at various points of the day — rather, you’ll have to opt in to the feature, and select who will have the luxury of saying hey whenever the mood strikes them.

Aside from making calls, Amazon will also let you send and receive messages through Alexa. Just ask the virtual assistant to send some text, tell her what you’d like it to say, and she’ll take care of the rest. When you receive a message, you’ll be alerted by way of a green light ring, whereupon Alexa can read the contents of the text aloud to you (or in the case of the Show, just show you).