Amazon Echo, Google Home To Get Ability To Make And Receive Phone Calls

Both the Amazon Echo and Google Home digital assistants could be set to receive the ability to make and receive telephone calls during the course of 2017, according to a new report by The Wall Street Journal. The piece, which cites the ever popular “people familiar with the matter,” claims that both Amazon and Google have been working to bring calls to their respective devices for some time, but that they have hit various roadblocks thus far.

As the story goes, those roadblocks include regulatory and privacy concerns relating to the usage of always-listening devices as telephony hardware and software.

Beyond those issues – likely to be overcome given time and work – Amazon is said to have been working to bring calls to Alexa since 2015, with something as mundane as employee turnover being partly blamed for the feature having failed to arrive thus far.

Amazon has declined to comment on the speculation surrounding telephone capabilities coming to the Echo, with Google simply saying that the company “continue[s] developing new experiences for Google Home.” Whether those experiences include being able to talk to someone via phone calls is anyone’s guess at this point.

Should either company decide to make such a feature a focus, both have products already available that could be tweaked to work with their digital assistants. Amazon’s recently announced Chime is a combination of Skype and GoToMeeting, with VoIP calls part of that new service. Google also has Google Voice up its sleeve, which itself recently received an overdue overhaul to make it look like something that wasn’t added to Gmail as an afterthought. Finally, Google!

It’s clear that there are still hurdles to overcome if calls are to come to the Amazon Echo or Google Home devices, be they regulatory or technological, but if there are two companies on this planet that we think are capable of doing just that, it’s Amazon and Google.

(Source: The Wall Street Journal)

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