Amazon brings group video calling to Echo devices just in time for the holidays

Echo Show setup
Echo Show setup (Image credit: Clinton Bowman / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Amazon is upgrading Alexa's video calling capabilities in the U.S.
  • Alexa now supports group video calling on Echo devices.
  • Amazon has also added call-captioning for Echo Show devices, adding dynamic subtitles for users who are hearing impaired.

With Zoom and Google both making video calling easier just in time for the holiday season, Amazon's also working on improving its video calling support. The primary way you're meant to be using video calling on Amazon devices is through third-party services like Zoom. if you want to reach out to a wide variety of people who don't necessarily all have Alexa-enabled devices or supported Echo devices, this should be your first choice.

Accordingly, Amazon has improved that, saying:

Starting today in the U.S., we're launching a series of new calling features to help families and friends connect for holiday celebrations and beyond. With a few easy steps, you'll be able to say, "Alexa, call my family" or "Alexa, join my Zoom meeting" to join your family for a remote holiday get together, or catch up with friends for a virtual happy hour.

Specifically, it's rolling out four feature improvements line-wide. First, Alexa can now carry out group video calls if you have a compatible set of Echo devices like the Echo, Echo Dot, or Echo Show. If you bought a whole set of Echo devices for your family over the Black Friday shopping weekend, they'll now come in handy. You can name groups with the Alexa app, and once you've done this, simply saying "Alexa, call [group name]" is enough to start a video call with up to seven people.

Amazon has also brought video calling to more devices. Kids Edition Fire tablets now have Alexa powered video calls to approved contacts, and the Echo Show 8 now supports Zoom and Amazon CHime.

Finally, with call captioning, similar to live caption on Pixel phones, Alexa can now caption your phone calls if you're using an Echo device with a screen. It only works with one on one calls in the U.S., but it'll likely expand in the coming months.

All these features are rolling out from today in the U.S.

Michael Allison