Amid more Amazon announcements than anyone expected yesterday, a few little nuggets of information slipped into the background. Namely, that Amazon Echo devices will gain the ability to make Skype calls later this year.
Microsoft – the owner of Skype – says Echo users will be able to say “Alexa, call mum on Skype” in order to commence the call. Users will also be notified by incoming calls and can answer them by saying “Alexa, answer,” Microsoft says in a blog post.
While the speaker-only Echo devices are capable of making audio calls, those with an Echo Show or Echo Spot display-based device will be able to make video calls via Skype.
While the addition of both audio and video calling via Skype is newsworthy, the latter adds another important string to the Echo Show’s bow. Until now, video calls have been available on a device-to-device basis, or by using the Alexa app. Adding a ubiquitous platform like Skype helps to expand that functionality.
Related: New Amazon Echo devices detailed
Calls will be possible to other Skype enabled devices, like PCs, smartphone and even the Xbox One console. However, it’ll also be possible to call mobile and landline numbers via SkypeOut.
The rollout will be the latest integration between Microsoft and Amazon, which began with the marriage of Cortana and Alexa.
“Since then, we’ve added Alexa integration on Xbox and are continuing to work together to bring the best of Skype and Alexa together to enable intelligent communications for our users,” said Gaurav Sareen, Corporate Vice President for Microsoft.
On Thursday September 19, Amazon refreshed its Echo line up with new versions of the Show, Dot and Echo Plus speakers, while adding an Echo Sub subwoofer to the mix.
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