The Amazon Echo now doubles as a home intercom system

Amazon will officially release the Show in a few days, but in the meantime, the company is introducing a long-awaited intercom feature for existing Echo devices. The addition uses Drop-In, a teleconferencing feature introduced on the Show that lets close friends and family members call into one another’s device with little warning.

I really didn’t like the feature when I tested the device this week — I found it to be pretty intrusive compared to standard calling, but this implementation makes a lot more sense. This upgrade brings Drop-In to the Echo and Echo Dot, letting users communicate between devices in a network. So, you can, say, yell at the kids to come to dinner through the kitchen Echo. 

The feature works across the three devices. In order to take advantage of the intercom, users have to name their individual Echoes (by room probably makes the most sense) and enable the Drop-In feature via the Alexa app. Once everything’s set up, the feature can be fired up by saying “Alexa, call the kitchen” or “Alexa, drop in on the kitchen.”

The system works through household groups created during the setup process, rather than in-home Wi-Fi. That means the app can also be used to check in on loved ones from afar, for those who have kids or elderly relatives — or, one imagines, for more nefarious reasons. According to Amazon, the intercom ability was among its most requested features for the popular home assistant.

It’s also likely to raise the ire of the people behind the smart home intercom that seemingly inspired the creation of the Echo Show in the first place.