Alexa calling and messaging comes to tablet devices

Alexa calling, the feature that lets users place voice and video calls from Alexa devices, like the Echo, is now coming to tablets. Amazon announced this morning added support for calling as well as messaging features on tablets, including iPads, Android tablets and, of course, its own Fire tablets.

On the Fire HD 10, Alexa calling and voice messages will be available hands-free — you can just ask Alexa to take action. Meanwhile, on the Fire 7 and Fire HD 8 or older generation Fire tablets, you’ll instead press the Home button to place a call or send a message. The devices will also support Drop In — the feature that lets you use Alexa devices as an intercom system of sorts, where you can instantly connect with other devices around the home, or in friends’ and families’ homes, if you choose to enable it.

To use the calling and messaging features, you’ll need the latest version of the Alexa app and will need to verify your phone number and import your contacts.

The expanded support for voice calls and messaging is the latest example of how Amazon’s Alexa app is becoming more than a utility for managing the settings on Echo devices or Alexa’s smart home integrations.

Amazon had announced in January that the app would also be expanded to include voice integration, meaning users could speak to Alexa in a dedicated app instead of only through Alexa devices (or oddly, the Amazon shopping app, which got Alexa integration first.)

With support for calling, messaging and voice commands, Amazon has a way to establish a presence on mobile, where it had earlier failed with its own Amazon-branded Fire Phone smartphones. It gives Amazon a chance to dive into social and messaging, too, where it had never directly competed before.

The new calling support is available in the latest version of the Alexa iOS and Android application, says Amazon.