Amazon Echo Calling and Messaging Guide

Amazon has just added calling and messaging features to all of their Amazon Echo devices.  Over the past couple days, we have been testing out the features and it is really neat!  We have seen lots of questions about the feature, so we have put together an Amazon Echo Calling and Messaging Guide

Install/Update the App

You will need to install or update the Alexa app on your phone. The Alexa App is available from the iTunes Store and Google Play Store.

Once you open the app, they will walk you through some steps to setup the calling feature, including registering your phone number.  The app will also ask you for permissions to access your contacts – this will allow your contacts list to automatically populate as your friends and family setup their Echo’s .  Once you complete the setup, you should see a text bubble in the bottom ribbon bar (iPhone version shown).

Update your Echo(s)

Your Amazon Echo’s will automatically be updated – you can test this by saying “Alexa, what are my messages?”.  If she doesn’t know how to handle that question, unplug your Echo and plug it back in.  This will force the Echo to do an update.

Setting Up Your Household

An Amazon Household can consist of 2 Adults and 4 Children.  If you have Amazon Prime, the Adults get their Prime Benefits shared between accounts.  You can also share all of your purchased media (Books, Videos, Music) with everyone within the household.

For our intent, the Amazon Household will allow us to call anyone in the household from our phones and it will start ringing any of our Echo devices.  You can manage your Amazon household via a web browser.  For step-by-step instructions, you can follow the latest instructions on Amazon’s website.  Once an adult is added, if you remove them, you can only add a new one 180 days after the fact, so if you are testing this, create a dummy account for the main account!

Adding children are even more simple and you have the ability to control their content and devices right from the online app.  Once you’ve added everyone to your household, make sure you setup the Alexa App on all of their devices that want to receive calls on.

Sending your first message with an Echo

Amazon has added some new commands:

  • “Alexa, make a call.”
  • “Alexa, send a message.”
  • “Alexa, play my messages.”
  • “Alexa, answer.”
  • “Alexa, hang up.”
  • “Alexa, call {name}.”
  • “Alexa, send message to {name}.”

The name must be someone that is in your contacts list which is taken from your Phone’s address book.  At this time, it doesn’t look like there is any other way to add new contacts unless they have a phone number.  You can see a list of contacts from the Alexa App by first clicking on the Text Bubble Icon in the bottom ribbon bar.  This will bring up a list of all of your messages, both sent and received.  You can then see a list of your contacts by pressing the Person Icon in the top ribbon.

All of the names you see can have messages and calls made to them.  So in my example, I said “Alexa, send message to Laura”.  Alexa then responded and asked me what the message should be.  I stated my message and stopped talking.  After a few seconds, my message was sent.

Because Laura is in the same household as me, not only did her phone send her a notification with the transcribed message, but all of the Alexa devices in our house had a Green pulsing ring to indicate there was a new message.  By stating “Alexa, play my messages,” the Echo told me who the message was from and who it was to and then the message was played.

You can also send text and voice messages from the app and Alexa will read them out loud to you.  In the app, once you click on a contact, it gives you the ability to message or call the contact.  By clicking the text bubble icon, your message history shows up and a Blue Microphone button shows up at the bottom.

By pressing and holding that button, you can speak your message and it will send.  You can also press the small keyboard icon in the bottom right of the screen and send a text message.  To listen to a message from the app, just click the Blue Play button.

Making your First Call

Making a call is just as simple as sending a message.  Once I said “Alexa, call Laura”, all of the Echo’s in the house started ringing and stating “Call from Jesse”.  You can say “Alexa, answer” and you are instantly connected.

We did this test with multiple Echos and Phones.  The Echo you originally asked to make a call will be device 1 and the device you ask to answer on will be device 2.  There is no way we have found to this point to switch devices without hanging up and calling again.

If you answer on your phone, the call goes through the ear-piece or through a speaker phone function if you press the Speaker Icon button.  One thing that was tricky with the iPhone (unconfirmed on Android devices) – if we had the media volume turned all the way down, we had to turn it up to be able to hear sound.  Basically it does not reference your phone call volume setting like a normal phone call would.

Once you are done with the call, you can either say “Alexa, hang up,” or click the disconnect icon on the app.

Other Features

Amazon has put a lot of thought into this function.  While we won’t go into too much depth, we wanted to make sure we shared some of the more advanced features that you can set in the settings either in the app or at

  • Do Not Disturb with scheduling at a device level
  • Custom sounds for new messages

Limitations of the System

Let me preface this with saying this new feature is really cool!  We have Echo Dots scattered throughout the house and we can now be even lazier!  That being said, we have found some limitations that we hope Amazon will fix.

  • No way to specify a device you want to call/message to
  • No way to switch devices in the middle of the call
  • No group messaging capabilities

None of these missing features are a deal-breakers which will make us turn off the feature.  In fact, we don’t see a way to disable it at all unless you turn on Do Not Disturb mode on all of your devices.


Overall, we are excited for this new feature and can’t wait to share more guides with you on setting up some of the advanced functions.  Tell us in the comments below your thoughts on Amazon’s new calling and messaging features for the Amazon Echo.

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