(Pocket-lint) – Amazon lets you use Alexa to make calls and send messages on a Fire tablet, eliminating the need for an Echo device to talk to friends and family through Alexa. So if you have a Fire tablet, you have an easy and inexpensive way to stay in touch with loved ones without having to buy a smart display like an Echo Show.
It’s surprisingly simple, thanks to Alexa Calling.
What do you need for a video call?
- Fire tablet (fourth generation and later) with the Alexa app
- Or any mobile device with the Alexa app installed
- Or an Echo Show 10, Show 8 or Show 5
Rather than buying an Alexa smart display such as Echo Show, you can use the Alexa app on your Amazon Fire tablet or download the Alexa app on your Android or iPad tablet.
Your mobile device, with its beautiful HD touchscreen, can then act as a smart display. In fact, Amazon really wants you to think of your Fire tablet as a slimmed-down Echo Show capable of video calling.
The person you’re calling also needs a device running the Alexa app. They might even have an Echo Show, to accept video calls, while an Echo, Echo Dot or Echo Plus can accept audio-only calls – or just a mobile device with the Alexa app too.
Set up video calls on a Fire tablet or mobile device.
Open the Alexa app on your Fire tablet (or mobile device). Tap the Communicate/Communication tab in the navigation bar at the bottom of the screen. If you haven’t already enabled it, the Alexa app will ask for permission to access your contacts and save your phone number. (This is for caller ID; if you unsubscribe, your calls will appear as “Unknown” to your friends.)
You may need to confirm your name and verify your phone number via SMS.
Alexa can use your phone’s address book to find people you know who have the Alexa app with Alexa Calling enabled. Once you’re done, you’ll be able to call and message friends and family who have Echo devices, Fire tablets, or the Alexa app. You can even call most landline and mobile numbers not in your contacts by saying the number (“Alexa, call 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-0”).
Amazon said you can call to any country that supports Alexa-to-Alexa calling.
Make a Video Call Using a Fire Tablet
- Open the Alexa app on your Fire phone or tablet
- Select Communicate from the bottom navigation bar
- Select the Call button at the top
- Select the contact you want to reach
- Select their number or Alexa audio call or video call buttons
To start a video call from a tablet or compatible Fire mobile device, simply open the Alexa app, then select the Communicate/Communication tab and find your contact, then tap the video call icon . That’s it. Of course, to end a video call, just select the End button on the screen.
If you’ve ever felt the need to ping a Fire tablet owner without their permission, you can do that too right now. Fire HD 8 and Fire HD 10 owners can receive Drop In video calls from Alexa devices with displays and cameras, like Echo Show and Echo Spot. It’s a hands-free way to instantly connect to Alexa devices, without having to wait for the person on the other end to answer.
It’s a feature that needs to be enabled from Settings (Alexa > Hands-Free Mode), then you can specify which contacts can use it.
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Want to know more?
Amazon’s “Alexa-to-Alexa calling and messaging” is a free feature first introduced on the Echo Show. But Amazon wanted to extend this functionality to other devices, so it developed what we now call “Alexa calling” or “Alexa calling and messaging”. It works with compatible Echo devices and the Alexa app and Amazon Fire tablets. Here’s everything you need to know about it.
To note: If you’re using a chat app like Facebook Messenger, you can skip this whole process and video call people using that app if they’re using this too.
Written by Maggie Tillman. Editing by Chris Hall.