Alexa Questions & Answers

By: Frank Engelman.  Updated: September 24, 2021.

 

After writing several "How To" articles, relating to Alexa and related products, I have been getting quite a few questions about things I neglected to cover in those articles. This page is to collect some of the common questions, together with detailed "how to" answers.

If you haven't yet read the original articles, I would start there (see below). If you understand the big picture, but are stuck on some details, scroll down and see if your question is answered.

 

The Big Picture (start with one of these articles if you are just getting started)

 

The Question Categories

Q&A's on this page are grouped into these categories:

 

 

Q&A: Alexa Calling

If you are just getting started with Alexa Calling see "How to Set Up Alexa Calling for a Loved One". Below are some additional pointers.

 

Should I add my Dad to my Alexa account or create one for him?

While it appears to be a simple solution to take an Echo device you have already setup in your home, running on your Wi-Fi and ship it to your Dad, there are some points you need to consider before doing that”.

  1. Any reminders and calendar events you set for him will also show up on your devices.
  2. Since this is on your Amazon Account, any commands that he misspeaks could turn on/off smart devices (if you have any) in your home or even order things by voice, if you have that enabled. I know that kids in families that have multiple echo devices enjoy pranking their parents with lighting or TV controls.
  3. Since he won’t have his own Alexa account, you can’t use the Alexa Care Hub features which can allow you to monitor his wake-up time, if that’s important.
  4. The lack of his own Alexa Account means you can’t set up Emergency Contact calling. This is not 911 calling, but it allows him to say a simple request for help and have it call your number.
  5. If other family members want to set reminders or post photos, they will need your account info to login.
  6. An incoming Alexa call to YOU will also ring your Dad's device, causing confusion.

 

 

How can I setup Alexa Calling if my parents don’t have a mobile phone to receive the SMS setup message?

See "How to Set Up Alexa Calling for a Loved One".

 

 

How can I troubleshoot my Dad’s Alexa Calling issues?

You can do this from your own home, on your own mobile device.

In the Alexa app

  • Tap More
  • Tap Settings
  • Scroll down and sign out of your account
  • Sign back in with your Dad’s account

The first thing to notice is if it asks you to add a mobile number to the account. If it does, it means that the Google voice number did not get in there and you will need to add it now.

  • Continue to sign in as your Dad

You should NOT get challenged to verify Dad’s phone number. If it does, it means that the Google voice or TextNow number did not get in there and you will need to add it now.

  • There is no need to teach Alexa your voice- skip
  • Tap Communicate
  • Tap the person icon in the upper right
  • Tap on your Dad’s name
  • It should show his Google Voice or TextNow number there
  • It should also show “People who can drop in”
    • If it doesn’t show anyone, use the back arrow in the upper left to add some contacts

Don’t forget to log out as you Dad and back in as yourself on the Alexa app to test.

 

 

How can I make drop-in work on Grandma’s Echo Show?

On your mobile device, delete and re-install the Alexa app
• Log in with your Grandmother’s Amazon account
• Tap Devices
• Tap Echo & Alexa
• Tap on her Echo Show 5 name
• Tap Communications
• Be sure “Drop In” is enabled
• Tap Communicate
• Tap on the “person” in upper right
• Tap on her name
• Under permissions- be sure “Allow Drop In” is on
• Under “People who can drop in”- be sure your name is in there

 

 

Why are calls that family members make to Mom’s Echo Show being sent to MY phone instead?

The reason that calls are going to your phone is most likely that your phone number was used when setting up your Mom's Alexa and is now assigned in your Mom's Alexa account. To verify this, log into your Mom's Alexa account and see what phone number is assigned... see steps below. That is why I recommended using a free Google Voice number or TextNow number in the setup instructions.

Rather than doing a complete re-install, let's try this as a workaround.

  • Create a free Google Voice number using YOUR mobile number to accept it
  • On your phone, delete the Alexa app and reinstall it
  • Login with your MOM's Alexa account
    • Tap Communicate
    • Tap the "person outline" in the upper right
    • Tap on your Mom's name
    • Tap edit
    • Tap on the mobile phone number and enter the Google Voice or TextNow number you created
    • Accept the text you receive from Google or TextNow

You can now delete the Alexa app and reinstall as yourself.

If it still doesn't work for your relatives, try logging into your MOM's Amazon account (the one where you buy stuff) and change the mobile number to the Google Voice or TextNow number.

 

 

How to get rid of extra contacts in my Mom’s Echo Show?

The first thing to do is go into your MOM’s Amazon account and remove the mobile phone number that was assigned. I’m assuming that it is your phone number.

Then in your MOM’s Alexa account, you need to make some changes. You can access her account from you or your phone by deleting the Alexa app and re-installing it and logging in with your MOM’s Alexa account.

Once you are in there:
• Tap Communicate on the bottom
• Tap the “Person” outline in the upper right
• Tap on a contact that you want to delete
• Tap Edit
• Tap Delete Contact
• Tap Delete

Sorry, I don’t know of a “bulk delete.” Some users have had success turning off “import contacts”. Also be sure when you later run my setup steps to NOT IMPORT contacts.

 

 

How Do I Use Alexa Group Calling or Zoom

 

 

 

Q&A: Alexa Care Hub

To learn the basics of setting up and using the Alexa Care Hub, see Alexa Care Hub: "How To" Advice. Below are some additional pointers.

 

Why is the Alexa Care Hub setup failing?

Please see the setup article (above) for detailed setup instructions. If you are running into a problem during installation where you get the message that “You are already in a Care Hub Relationship”, be sure that you have logged out of ALL your Amazon accounts!

This is different than logging out of your Alexa Account. Amazon account logins seem to confuse the Alexa Care Hub installer.

 

 

What is an “emergency contact”?

This is an Alexa Calling feature that can be setup when configuring Alexa Care Hub.

The calling for help phrase becomes easier when you enable Emergency Contact.

He can just say any of these

  • "Call for help."
  • "Call my emergency contact."
  • "Call my contact for help."
  • "Call my help contact."

 

 

 

Q&A: Configuring Echo Show for your remote parents

If you are new to the Echo Show, start with Amazon Echo Show: Older Adults Explore. For additional pointers, see below.

 

How to get a big screen clock on my Echo Show?

That is a great question and one where Amazon doesn't provide a good answer. There is no "direct" setting for making the "date" available on the Echo Show in "Wallpaper & Clock", except in the Echo Show 5... it has been a requested feature for years on Amazon forums.

The clock with date will show up as the screen "rotates" through displays of selections you have made in "Settings" (if you have Rotate Continuously enabled in Settings- Home Content).

For example, on the Echo Show Gen 2 & Echo Show 8 you should see the following rotating content: (Echo Show 5 is different)

  • Time & Weather in upper left corner
  • Time & Weather in upper left corner plus week's weather on center of display (if weather forecast is enabled)
  • Large Time & weather & date in lower left (It should actually spend most of it's time on this screen)

You might check for software updates under Settings- Device Options- Check for Software Updates. Mine is running Fire OS 5.5.4.1 (658657020)

One other thing that you could do if you just want this display-> * Large Time & weather & date in lower left , is to turn on "Do Not Disturb".

This is available in "swipe down from the top". You can still talk to Alexa, but others won't be able to call you.

 

Or, A Dementia Clock "Skill"

Reader Carol T. has suggested that the Alexa Skill “Screensaver” makes a significant dementia calendar-clock display. After doing some testing, I agree and would like to offer recommended Alexa Skill settings that you can enable when first starting the Alexa Skill:

  • Layout-> “For seniors with visual impairment.”
  • Background video-> off… you may prefer a video background.
  • Text color-> your choice of text color and brightness…default is white 100%, suggest “White- 50%”
  • Always start in interactive mode-> on (this gives you a chance to change settings when restarting the skill versus having to disable & re-enable the skill.

Please note that since this is an Alexa Skill, other Alexa actions such as asking Alexa for the time or weather will stop it from appearing. I suggest that you add some timed Alexa Routines to restart the Alexa Skill every so often. Here is an article Frank Engelman wrote about creating Alexa Routines.

As described in that article, you could also add a motion sensor in an Alexa Routine to restart the Alexa Skill when your loved one is nearby.

 

 


 

 

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Reader Comments: "Alexa Questions & Answers"

 

from Johnathan Reiker (unverified) at January 01, 2021

Hello Frank,
I have set up an Echo Show 8 to take over to my 96 year old mother so that I, and I hope siblings, would be able to connect with her by video. She does not have a cell phone. I have done all of the steps that you outline (with my Android Cell) using her individual google account with her own google voice number and with her individual amazon account.
I can video call her Show 8 and I can drop in on her Show 8 with my (Android)cell phone as expected. Here are some wrinkles that I cannot yet figure out.
When I attempt a call from her Show to my cell number, all of my alexa devices in the house ring, but nothing rings on my cell even with my alexa account app open . I can answer with any one of the house alexa devices for an audio only conversation, but thats it, no connection through my app.
I added one of my siblings cell phone numbers into mom’s new alexa contacts. I have confirmed on her Show that it is in her contacts correctly. When he trys to call her Show (Using the Google Voice number) through his IOS alexa app he gets a message that alexa calling needs to be authorized.
Any ideas?

 

from faengelm (member) at January 02, 2021

Hi Johnathan,

Thanks for checking in the FAQ section first.

Let me see if I understand the issues.

  1.  When you say 'Alexa, call Johnathan's mobile" to your mom's Echo Show, it rings all of your Echo Devices, but not your phone
  2. When you say that your sibling tries to call mom's Echo Show using her Google Voice number, he gets that Google Voice message.

I'll need to do some research on number #1 and will post an update here after some testing

As for #2, please note that the Google Voice number is NOT to be used to receive phone calls.

It's really just a way for Amazon to link Alexa accounts together; it's just a reference number. That means that your siblings should only make calls using this command "Alexa, call mom's Alexa devices" with their Alexa app on their phone

Although the Echo Show can make outgoing phone calls to real phone numbers, it has no phone number to receive incoming calls. If that is something that you need, you would either need to use one of these solutions:

  • Amazon Echo Connect with either a landline or a VoIP device
  • AT&T NumberSync with a post-paid (not a prepaid) account

Frank

 

from Kendall  (unverified) at April 04, 2021

I am having the exact problem as #1 above. I was excited to see the question, but then no answer! I cannot get Mom’s echo show to video call the Alexa app on my cell phone. All my echos in the house will ring, but not my phone. If we tell it to call my cell, it is just an audio call showing the google voice number as the caller id.
Your tutorial for setting this up for mom was so helpful. I can’t thank you enough. I would just like to fix this issue of mom not being able to video chat to my phone app.

 

from faengelm (member) at April 06, 2021

Hello Kendall,

This now shows up as a common problem on the Amazon User Forum. After several multi-hour calls with Amazon Support, I was able to get them to open a formal ticket on it.

Since I’m not sure I’ll hear back soon, please try this as a workaround:

Here is what I’d like to suggest as a workaround for your mother when initiating a call to family members.

She should say “Alexa, call XXX’s mobile”, where XXX is their Alexa contact name.

This will start a regular phone call with that person. If this is a convenient time for a video call, they can hang up and then start a video call to your mother.

After a while, Alexa will learn that your mother wants to call that mobile number and will no longer try to call the Alexa app on her phone.

You could solve the Google Voice number showing up by adding that phone number into your phone contacts.

Frank

 

from Tina Johnson (unverified) at October 16, 2021

I reside in Delaware. My mother in Maryland. I bought my mother and Echo Show and used your instructions (I believe last years instruction) to set her up in her Assisted Living residence. I acquired an email account, an amazon account and google voice number. It worked great. However, as of a month ago, whenever one of the four siblings call her, it doesn’t connect and drops the call. Same if she calls us. It disconnects. So I visited and took the unit home, however, hooked it to my WiFi, and to my surprise it worked perfectly. So I took it back, changed the WiFi address and password to that of the facility and again I won’t make calls, it drops them. The facility is being of no help. They say it’s not a problem on their end, it’s the machine. To me, doesn’t make sense since it worked perfectly at my house. I’ve done a factory reset and unplugged the unit, but no change. Can you come up with any idea as to what is wrong. Please know that Alexa will respond with a joke or time, etc. Just can’t make video calls.

 

from faengelm (member) at October 18, 2021

Hello Tina,
Please try a quick test to be sure the Google Voice number is still working. I assume you have the Google Voice app on your phone. Just call the Google Voice number from your mobile number to be sure it’s still working.

If it’s NOT working, I can provide a workaround that you can implement remotely.

If it IS working, then the facility did change something on their network.  Could you ask them to check and see if these network ports are open?
123
443
4070
5353
33434
40317
49317

If they are unwilling to do that, you could demonstrate that the Echo Show is NOT the issue by connecting it to your phone’s hotspot and making a video call.

If that still doesn’t convince them, you will have to get separate Internet access for your mother. 
Will they allow her own cable or another wired Internet provider?

If not, you can get a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot from a wireless carrier that has good coverage in her location. This is typically the way that RVers get their Internet connection when travelling.

 

from faengelm (member) at October 19, 2021

Hello Tina,

I just received a troubleshooting tip from Amazon support that may help.

Tip: Try saying, “Are you connected to the internet?” Alexa will provide network diagnostics for compatible Alexa-enabled devices.

This may provide the information the IT staff needs.

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