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Google Home, Amazon Echo Could Soon Handle Voice Calls

16 February 2017

From PC Magazine:

This could be the year that Amazon Echo and Google Home replace your smartphone—at least when you’re at home. Reports indicate they might soon be able to handle voice calls.

According to the Wall Street Journal, adding the ability to make and receive calls is high on the list of forthcoming features, and it could happen this year.

The big difference between Google and Amazon in this regard is that Google does have an advantage in the form of Google Voice. Voice already offers voice calls, text messaging, voicemail, and call forwarding features, so Google could just hook Voice up to Home devices. Amazon does not have an equivalent service to simply bolt on.

Link to the rest at PC Magazine

While PG is a big fan of both the Echo and the Echo Dot and has a few sprinkled around Casa PG, he’s not certain if he wants his cell phone hooked up to them. He thinks he prefers to call up Alexa when he wants something rather than having Alexa initiate contact.

But he could be wrong and will check out the service when it appears. Amazon may add some compelling features that PG doesn’t anticipate.

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15 Comments to “Google Home, Amazon Echo Could Soon Handle Voice Calls”

  1. “Well, yeah, I should call Debbie sometime before Friday and –”

    [call Debbie]

    “Hello?”

    “Who?”

    “You just called me!”

    “Sorry Debbie — I seem to have ‘Echo dialed’ again …”

    • Usually you have to say a recognized prompt, or the device name prior to it initializing.

      Like, “Ok Google” in the case of Google’s AI. And “Alexa,” prior to whatever your command to the AI unit is.

      • I guess I should have added that they were talking to someone else who ‘had’ activated Alexa, but I take your point. (unless Alexa can tell which voice ‘activated’ her and will ignore all other voices.)

        • I don’t know about Alexa. Google Now can certainly do that. You can set it up to recognize only a single user’s voice, if you want. Of course, that won’t work with a multi-user device, such as the Echo.

  2. What I got from this is that you would be able to MAKE and RECEIVE calls on the Echo. IN otherwords:

    PG: Alexa, call Mrs. PG.
    ALEXA: Ok, I’ll call her right now.

    Then you have a conversation with Mrs. PG.

    • Without a cellphone, right?
      Something like Magic Jack…

      • Kind of. You wouldn’t be talking on any handset, though. The devices have a speaker and microphone built into them. It would be like talking on speakerphone.

        That’s why they said Google has a leg up, because they already have VoIP technology developed. Google Voice. And its free.

        Google also already has th software developed to connect the AI to your address book, with all your phone numbers. I do it every day on my android.

        “Ok, Google, call Pizza Hut”

        It first looks to see if there’s a phone number in my address book on gmail for Pizza Hut. If not, it searches the internet for the closest Pizza Hut and dials the number for me on my phone.

        • It would likely work through the new Amazon Chime service so Google’s lead isn’t much of a lead.

  3. You don’t need this.

  4. Another use for this, in my house would be:

    ———

    Wife is starting to make dinner, notices we are missing cheese for the pizza. Takes out the onions and starts chopping.

    “Alexa, text Tony”

    “Sure, what’s the message?”

    “Please pick up cheese for the pizza on your way home from work. Thanks,” she says as she continues to chop onions.

    “Ok, message sent.”

    She goes to the sink and begins to wash her hands, and the green peppers.

    “You have a new message from Tony.”

    “Alexa, read message.”

    “The message is: ‘Will do babe.’ Would you like to send a response.”

    “No, Alexa.”

    She turns the water off and begins chopping green peppers.

    ———–

    The point is convenience, not necessity. Its in the little time savers.

    • The last episode of this season of The Grand Tour (the Top Gear guys) examines the horror of voice recognition texting.

      • I do it all the time. About 75% of my texts and google searches are by voice. Haven’t had much trouble.

  5. I’ll give it try, too, PG.

    Last night something weird happened. Out of the blue, Alexa began saying “Emergency, Emergency, Emergency” with what sounded like alarm. Anyone else have this happen. I have no clue what it was supposed to mean, and my other Echo remained silent.

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