Amazon rolling out free group calling, support for Zoom, and more for Echo devices

Back in September, Amazon announced a bunch of features coming to the Alexa app and devices powered by the smart assistant. One of those features included support for group calling. Today, the company announced that group calling is now rolling out to supported Echo devices, along with a bunch of other calling features for users in the United States, especially during the holiday season.

Users can now create groups of up to seven people that include friends or family members and name the group via the Alexa app. They can then initiate a group voice or video call from Echo devices just by saying “Alexa, call my family” or Alexa, call my [group name]” command. The feature allows any of the group members to initiate a call and not just the creator of the group. There is no information on any duration limits for group calls.

The e-commerce giant also announced today that it is rolling out support for Zoom and Amazon Chime conference calls on Echo Show 8 devices, as promised earlier this year. Users will be able to join video meetings on Zoom or Chime via Alexa using simple voice commands like “Alexa, join my Zoom/Amazon Chime meeting”.

Other enhancements coming to Alexa include a Call Captioning feature on Echo Show devices that generates caption in Drop In or one-to-one calls. This feature is useful for users with accessibility needs – such as those that are hard of hearing. Captions will begin rolling out today and currently supports U.S. English.

Lastly, the firm is also bringing Alexa Group Calling for kids through the Amazon Kids app on Fire tablets and Fire Kids Edition tablets. Children will be able to initiate or receive calls from contacts approved by parents on Echo devices or from the Alexa app on mobiles. The feature, however, needs to be enabled through the Parents Dashboard on Fire tablets.

The addition of group calling is a nifty one, especially during the holiday period. While the feature rivals the likes of Zoom, that offering too will remove its 40-minute call limits for free users on specific days during the holidays, which can be leveraged by Alexa users thanks to the support for the service.

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