Amazon’s Alexa wins with exciting new messaging features.
When it comes to home virtual assistants, Amazon was first with the Amazon Echo. The Echo introduced Alexa to our homes, and quickly set the standard for future competitors. Of course, when those competitors arrived, they came from heavyweights Google and Apple. I’m sure I’m not the only Alexa user that was afraid my device would soon be left behind.
Well that hasn’t happened yet. Not even close.
Amazon continues to push the boundaries of the Alexa echo system. Amazon has brought multiple form factors for essentially any need. From the premium (yet affordable) Echo, to the unobtrusive and low priced Dot. From portable speakers like the Tap to the more Echo Show which brought a screen and a camera. And lets not forget it’s little brother the Echo Spot. But it’s not just the form factor that Amazon continues adding to.
One would think that being able to answer and respond to questions would be enough to make an assistant. Apple certainly seems to think so. Luckily, Amazon isn’t playing that game. Alexa product owners are constantly being given new features and abilities. Not too long ago, we were given the ability to make voice calls to our friends that are also Alexa users. Then we were given the ability to make regular domestic phone calls through the devices. Now, video calls are available to all Alexa users.
Video calling became a possibility, and a reality, with the introduction of the Echo Show, and later the Spot. Of course, most Alexa enabled devices do not have a screen or a camera, so the ability was extremely limited. Amazon has now fixed that. Amazon Alexa video calling has now been enabled for Android phones, tablets, iPads, and of course Amazon’s own Fire tablets. Upon hearing the new, I had to check it out. It’s very easy, and very good.
Simply open the Alexa app, head over to the Calling & Messaging tab, and click on your contact. Hit the telephone in the upper right hand corner, and choose either Video Call or Audio Call, and hope your contact answers. Audio calls can be answered on the receiving Alexa device, or the receiver’s linked phone or tablet. This means of course, that you don’t even have to be home with your Alexa device to be able to use it.
While Apple brings the highest priced product in the category, Amazon just keeps adding functionality to their devices, at no additional cost. That’s a great business strategy. Apple could learn from it.