Amazon launched their Alexa personal assistant in the Echo back in 2014 and they’ve been working on it non-stop ever since. We’ve seen a number of 3rd-party companies integrate Alexa into their products over the years and Amazon is constantly adding support for 3rd-party services as well. Google is working to catch up to Amazon when it comes to feature parity with Google Home, but that will take some time. However, a new report talks about both of these companies working to add the same new feature in a future update.
According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, both Google and Amazon are working to add voice-calling features to Google Home and the Amazon Echo. The report cites “people familiar with the matter,” and goes as far as to say this feature could be implemented before the end of this year. It seems there are three different things that are delaying the rollout of this new feature. The report claims that privacy, telecom regulations and emergency services are all concerns about these voice-calling features.
Google recently released a big update to their Google Voice application and there seems to be a lot of work going on under the hood as well. So integrating this service into Google Home actually starts to make sense if this is a feature they’re wanting to offer. People close to the Amazon project say the Echo could get a phone number of its own, if the feature is rolled out, which could use call forwarding to send a phone call to a person’s cell phone if they aren’t close to the speaker.
Another thing holding these features back is usability. Since you can’t switch from the Amazon Echo or Google Home to your smartphone in the middle of a conversation, the whole thing will have to take place on the speakerphone. Also, trigger words for when you need to hang up the phone need to be planned accordingly so the device doesn’t hang up while you’re in the middle of a conversation.