Amazon is taking a big step forward in its quest to turn Alexa into the operating system for the home. Starting today, the Seattle tech giant is rolling out an intercom feature for the Echo and Echo Dot smart speakers, as well as the new Echo Show, slated for release this week.
The intercom feature lets users access the speaker on one Echo device from another Echo device or the Alexa smartphone app. It builds on the Alexa voice calling and messaging technology rolled out last month.
Amazon says the device needs to be given a name associated with the room and have the drop-in function enabled. With those two features set, the Echo intercom tool can be activated using phrases like “Alexa call the kitchen” or “Alexa drop in on the living room.”
Within the home, families can use one Alexa-enabled device to call another, or access the intercom feature through the Alexa app on iOS and Android. The intercom feature can also be used to drop in on Echo devices from outside the home, using the app.
Amazon says the intercom feature starts rolling out today via the Alexa app, and will be available to all Echo owners in the coming days.
Intercom functionality gives Alexa devices a leg up on Google Home, Amazon’s chief competitor in the smart speaker space, which is making its own play for smart-home dominance.