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Amazon Alexa devices now support hands-free calling

Vodafone customers can use their number to make and receive calls with Alexa

UPDATE: As if in tandem with the new hands-free calling feature, Amazon has started cutting prices on its Echo products. There’s 30% off the Amazon Echo Dot, and 22% off the regular Echo; you can save 17% on the Echo Spot, and a whopping 43% on the Echo Input. You can explore the full list of discounts over on the official Amazon Product page.

The original article continues below. 

Amazon announced today that all of its Alexa-enabled devices can now make and receive calls using a Vodafone mobile number. The new feature is part of a broader Alexa Communications initiative designed to bring Amazon’s voice assistant in line with the kind of hands-free calling experience offered by the Google Home series.

Of course, there’s a catch: Vodafone customers will need a mobile data plan that includes Vodafone’s OneNumber service. OneNumber allows users to share their data plan with a secondary device such as an Apple Watch; the service is a kind of optional extra, and as such can be added to an existing plan by speaking to a Vodafone adviser.

To enable the hands-free functionality, Vodafone OneNumber customers will need to pair their mobile number and sync their contacts with an Amazon account. Once that’s done, users will be able to call anyone they fancy just by muttering the magic words: “Alexa, call Mum/Dad/Steve/Karen.”

If you’re not on Vodafone, don’t fret: Amazon is also launching Alexa Outbound Calling, which allows anyone with an Echo device to make calls to mobile or landline numbers in the UK, US and Canada – but not receive them. You’ll need to download the Alexa app, navigate to “Communicate” and enter your number when prompted.

Vodafone OneNumber users have a slight advantage in that they can both make and receive calls via their connected Alexa devices. You’ll be able to choose which of your Echo devices ring when receiving a call, and the feature will continue to function even when your phone is out of charge or – God forbid – lost.

READ NEXT: Amazon announces Echo Show 5

The service offered by Vodafone is the first of its kind, and is available for OneNumber customers right now. Owners of Echo devices can also start making full use of Alexa Outbound Calling as of today.

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