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Calls from the Echo and Home

With yesterday’s Chime announcement, media are already speculating that voice calls will be coming to the Echo or Google Home. This is likely — but maybe not too soon.

One of the killer apps you can make with the Ubi Portal skill is initiating phone calls. It’s definitely much more convenient than having to dial. One of the experiences that kills the Google Home product is that when I want to make a voice-initiated call on my Android device via OK Google, it gets stopped by the Google Home if it’s in earshot.

There are a few ways that Amazon or Google could make voice calls work well on their devices:

  • Use it to launch 2-way Bluetooth calls from cellphones (this should be straightforward and is done with many BT speakers)
  • Have it launch conference calls between two numbers (like with Amazon Chime, Google Hangouts, or the Ubi Portal skill)
  • Have it connect to a landline (awkward)
  • Embed a SIP client

For the latter, it is theoretically possible for an AVS-enabled device to have this capability. Nucleus and Triby do something like this. Adding it so that it’s native to the Echo or Home makes sense.

The difficult part, beyond regulations on emergency services (which seems solvable), will be to add contacts or control device access. Google might be a bit ahead seeing as it has voice contact search.

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