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Amazon’s next Echo may include phone and intercom features

Amazon’s next Alexa-powered devices will have the ability to make phone calls, according to a report on Friday.

Recode sources say the firm is planning to unleash new hardware this year that could also be linked with other Alexa devices for use as an intercom.

The report says the efforts are geared towards encouraging more use of gadgets like the Echo, amid reports the increased availability of voice-based Alexa Skills (there’s now more than 10,000) apps isn’t necessarily translating to usage.

Communications tools could push buyers to make greater use of their smart speakers.

Amazon is currently testing the devices internally, the sources say, with an announcement expected in the coming months.

This isn’t the first time such an advancement has been mooted. Last month, the Wall Street Journal claimed both Amazon and Google were seeking to integrate tech that would make it possible to make and receive calls.

Related: Best Alexa Skills

Of course, the last time Amazon experimented with phone calls it didn’t work out too well. The disastrous Fire Phone could Amazon to write off $170m in losses, due to poor sales.

Earlier this week it also emerged Amazon is working on an in-home security camera a la the systems available from Google-owned Nest, among others.

The image of the device gleaned from Amazon’s servers featured a blue ring around the camera lens, suggesting Alexa functionality would be included.

The news comes as an increasing number of tech companies are including Amazon’s AI assistant within their hardware.

At CES we saw a slew of robots, LG refrigerators, Ford cars, light switches, power strips and speakers.

Is Amazon primed to dominate the Internet of Things? Or does Apple, Google and Samsung have a shot at reeling in Alexa’s lead? Let us know in the comments.

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