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How to use your Alexa device as an intercom

Are you tired of having to yell upstairs to summon your spouse from their study? Fortunately, for those of us with more than one Alexa-powered smart speaker, you can use the Alexa app and voice commands to intercom with the different devices throughout your home. It’s all through a useful Alexa feature called Drop In, and it’s pretty simple to use. We’ve assembled this guide to teach you how to use Drop In with your Alexa gear, as well as how to make announcements to all of your devices at once.

What is Drop In?

The Drop In feature (available in the Alexa app and through Alexa voice commands) is a communication tool that functions like a two-way radio. When you “drop in” on a compatible Alexa device, such as an Amazon Echo speaker or Echo Show, the caller will be able to hear and speak through the Echo device they’ve pinged. If it’s an Echo Show you’re pinging, you’ll be able to see through the device as well.

Likewise, the receiver of the Drop In will be able to respond to the caller, as well as hear the audio from the caller’s room. If it’s two Echo Shows that are sharing the Drop In, the receiver will be able to see the caller, too.

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For example, let’s say that you’re trying to fall asleep, but your spouse is playing guitar downstairs, and it’s much too loud. Using your bedroom Echo Dot, you can say, “Alexa, drop in on living room.” Your bedroom Dot will then activate a two-way link with the living room Dot, where your partner is playing music. You’ll then be able to say, “Darling, that’s enough for one night,” and your partner will be able to hear your plea through the downstairs Dot. If they know what’s good for them, they’ll say, “Sorry!” which you’ll be able to hear through your upstairs Dot.

How to Drop In on an Alexa device

Let’s begin with the app. Grab your phone or whatever mobile device you’ve got the Alexa app on. Launch the app and select the Communicate tab, located at the bottom of the homepage. At the top of the next page, you’ll see four different talk options, including Drop In and Announce (more on this option later).

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When you tap Drop In, a sub-screen should pop up that says Drop In On My Alexa Devices. All of your Alexa devices that are capable of receiving a Drop In call will be listed. Select the device you want to chat with, and your Drop In call will begin. To end the call, simply press the End Call button or just say, “Alexa, hang up.”

If you’d prefer to launch your Drop In session through voice commands, just say, “Alexa, drop in on [name of speaker],” next to whatever Alexa product you want to start the Drop In with. If Drop In permissions are enabled on the device you’ve requested, Alexa will initiate the call for you. To end the call, just say, “Alexa, hang up.” Pretty simple, right?

When using voice commands, it’s important to know the names of the compatible Alexa devices you’re trying to chat with. What if you don’t remember the names of your Alexa devices, though? No sweat — we’ll teach you where all your device names are located, as well as how to change them.

How to change communication settings

Fire up your Alexa app and select the Devices tab at the bottom of the homepage. At the top of the next screen, select Echo & Alexa. These are all the devices in your home that are capable of receiving Drop In calls and announcements. Non-Amazon brands with built-in Alexa capabilities, like Sonos, cannot make or receive Alexa Drop Ins or other chat options.

On the Echo & Alexa page, you’ll see all of your Alexa groups listed, along with all the specific Alexa speakers and devices in those groups. If you want to change the name of the speaker, tap it, and you’ll jump to the Device Settings for that particular speaker. You can also access Device Settings by tapping the top-left Hamburger Icon on the Alexa app homepage, then going to Settings Device Settings.

Select Edit Name and change the device ID to whatever you see fit. We do recommend keeping names concise and memorable so it’s easy to recall what your Echos are called when you’re trying to Drop In on them.

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By default, your primary Alexa devices should all be enabled for Drop In chatting. If that’s not the case, or if you’d like to change these preferences, go to Device Settings > Communications. The slider at the top of the page should be highlighted blue and in the On position. This means Drop In and announcements are enabled for the specific device. To disable, simply drag the slider to the left. Now that particular speaker will be barred from receiving Alexa intercom chats. This also means you will not be able to initiate Drop Ins from the selected device.

How to make an announcement with Alexa

What if you want to send a message to all your Alexa speakers at once? The best way to do so is through another Alexa communication option called Announce. To make an announcement using your Alexa app, launch your version of the app, tap Communicate, then tap Announce at the top of the next page.

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Type or say your message, then tap the Go arrow. You’ll hear a chime from every Alexa speaker in your home, and what you’ve written or said will be broadcast to each device. You can also make an announcement to all speakers using voice commands. Get near your device of choice and say, “Alexa, announce,” and she’ll respond, “What’s the announcement?” Say what you want to say, and presto, Alexa will fire off that message to all enabled devices.

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Michael Bizzaco
Michael Bizzaco has been writing about and working with consumer tech for well over a decade, writing about everything from…
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