Amazon today announced that third-party devices using Alexa Voice Service can now use voice announcements to turn smart speakers into something like a home intercom system. The move makes announcements available for a number of devices, like Facebook’s Portal and smart speakers and soundbars from companies like Bose and Sonos.
Announcements are one-way voice messages that can be sent to Echo speakers so you can say things like “Alexa, tell everybody dinner is ready” or “Alexa, tell Sophia it’s time for school.” Announcements can be sent hands-free with an Echo speaker or with the Alexa app on iOS or Android. The ability to send one-way messages with native Amazon Echo devices was introduced in 2017.
Announcements must be enabled by the device developer, Amazon said today in a blog post.
Announcements are similar to Broadcasts, a feature with Google’s Nest smart speakers, but Google’s solution enables users to respond. In addition to announcements, Alexa’s Echo speakers can make phone calls and Skype calls, send text messages, and make calls or Drop in with other Amazon Echo speakers.
The news comes a day after Google’s Duo introduced group video calls on smartphones. Duo powers video calls on Google Assistant smart displays. Those are still limited to calls with up to two people but will likely support group calls in the future.