Amazon’s Alexa-powered hardware has been so successful and so well-received on a global scale that the company plans to introduce at least one new device this year with Alexa capabilities, which could include phone calling and more.

According to sources, Amazon is looking to expand the capabilities of what is currently possible by baking in additional features, such as allowing the new device to act as a two-way intercom system, and even allowing telephone calls to be invoked with a simple voice command.

An official Amazon spokesperson has declined to comment on the speculation, but inside sources have also gone as far as suggesting that the new hardware is currently in a test environment within Amazon, being put through its paces ahead of a potential official announcement in just a couple of months.

It seems that one driver behind the new hardware, and what could be new capabilities, is to try and entice consumers into interacting with Alexa on a daily basis. The company’s Dot and Echo hardware have proven to be extremely popular, especially in the United States, but Amazon has clear concerns centered around the fact that users aren’t classed as daily-active or daily-engaged users.

Hopefully, the new hardware, and the new intercom-type features which would allow an Alexa user to speak directly to another Alexa user with an Amazon hardware in a different location, will change those habits and bring about a usage change which would see the hardware and underlying assistant being used more frequently.

Once the initial appeal of the hardware and Alexa has worn off, it seems that a number of Alexa Skills are finding it difficult to gain traction with hardware owners. Those device owners frequently use Amazon’s voice assistant to find out the daily news digest or the weather on a frequent basis, but tend to shy away from exploring and regularly interacting with new skills.

This type of integration and extension of the Alexa family isn’t exactly new. The Wall Street Journal has already reported that Amazon and Google were both working on integrating telephone call functionality to Echo and Google Home, but it seems that Amazon could have Google beat by being the first to market with such a function.

(Source: Recode)

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