But will they have their own numbers or simply act as an extension of your smartphone?
2017 could be the year that Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Home replace your smartphone, at least, when you’re at home. That’s because these chatty device are thought to be adding the ability to handle voice calls.
Both devices need to continue to earn their place in your home, and according to the Wall Street Journal, adding the ability to make and receive calls is high up the list of forthcoming features. If it happens, it’s going to happen this year.
The big difference between Google and Amazon in this regard is that Google does have an advantage in the form of Google Voice. Voice already offers voice calls, text messaging, voicemail, and call forwarding features, so Google could just hook Voice up to Home devices. Amazon does not have an equivalent service to simply bolt on.
It’s expected that Amazon would link your existing smartphone service to the Echo and Echo Dot devices, essentially turning them into voice-controlled extensions of a handset. Alternatively, Amazon could do a deal with land line providers to offer Echo integration as an extension of the home phone.
For consumers, the majority of whom now own a smartphone and/or have a land line, as long as the feature “just works” nobody is going to mind how it is achieved. However, before such a feature can launch there’s a few problems to overcome. The main ones being ensuring privacy and figuring out how to handle emergency calls effectively.
If either service ends up being an extension of your smartphone, then it’s also going to have to seamlessly deal with switching back and forth between the two, for example, when you leave or arrive home.
Not sure which smart device to pick up? Check out our guide Google Home vs. Amazon Echo: Which One Should Rule Your Smart Home? to help you decide.