How to Set Up Alexa Calling for a Loved One

By: Frank Engelman.  Updated: September 10, 2021.

 

Setting Up Alexa Calling

 

Are you looking for a way to setup video chats with your loved one who lives independently or in a facility?

This article tells you how to do that, using the Echo Show, without requiring your loved one to do any of the "setting up".

 

New to This Topic?

This is a Deep-dive "How To" article. If you are not yet sure if the Echo Show is the right product for your situation, you probably want to start with one of these related pieces of research.

 

 

Setting the Stage: Common Questions

Let’s listen on in a conversation between two seniors: Bob, whose mother just moved into a nursing home, and Frank, who just completed an Alexa Calling setup for his Mom.

 

Alexa Calling for Staying in Touch with Mom

Bob: I have been reading that Amazon Alexa Calling is the easiest way for me to have video chats with my Mom, but I have no idea how to get started for her.

Frank: Amazon Alexa Calling is a great way to do video chats with your Mom. You can have a video call with her even if she is unable to say the proper Alexa command to answer the call or unable to tap the icon on the Amazon Echo Show screen. That is accomplished using the “drop-in” feature. Here are the various Echo Show sizes (fig 1).

Echo Show Variants

Figure 1: Different versions of the Amazon Echo Show.
L-R: Echo Show 5; Echo Show 8; Echo Show (Gen 2).

 

But I Can't Visit Mom to Set It Up

Bob: Great. I actually setup an Echo Show in my own home and have done video chats with other family members, but they each setup their own Echo Show… How can I setup one for my Mom, especially since she doesn’t live nearby?

Frank: Amazon recently offered some advice (Reference 1) on how to do that remotely.

I suggest you follow their advice and configure your Mom’s Echo Show at YOUR home, using YOUR Wi-Fi, then the only thing that will have to change at her home is the Wi-Fi.

 

Can't Mom Just Use My Amazon Account?

Bob: Ok, but as I read their setup procedure, I see she would need her own Amazon account. Can’t she just use mine?

Frank: I recommend getting her a free Amazon account. That way all her preferences such as music and contacts are separate. You will still be able to log into her account when you are home to later make any changes necessary. In fact, if you keep an Echo device, say an Echo Dot, at your home logged into her account, you can remotely help her troubleshoot problems. And… you will be able to remote “push” family photos to her Echo Show as a slide show.

 

But She Doesn't Have a Cell Phone. It Says She Needs One.

Bob: Hmm, they also mention using “her cell phone” to complete the setup. She does not have or want a cell phone and I don’t want to buy a “burner” just for this setup.

Frank: Not to worry. There is a way to do this using her Amazon account and a free Google Voice account, which creates a free mobile number that Amazon needs to complete the Alexa Calling setup. You can log into her Amazon account with YOUR cell phone to complete the setup, including Contacts. I’ll give you details later on how to perform this step by step.

 

I Don't Want All MY Contacts in HER Alexa

Bob: Ok, I get it, but I read that if I use MY cell phone, that all my contacts be in there!

Frank: No, you can add the contacts your Mom needs one by one.

 

The Retirement Home Might Not Let Me Connect to Their WiFi

Bob: Oh, I forgot to mention that she is now in a nursing home. I know an Echo Show device needs Wi-Fi to work. What if they won’t allow it on their network?

Frank: Aha, there is a way around that using a paid cell service with what the carriers call a mobile hotspot.

 

Her TV is So Loud. She Will Not Hear the Call.

Bob: Oh, one more thing. She plays her TV very loud and I’m afraid she won’t be able to hear me calling her.

Frank: I have a fix for that! You also install a Fire TV Cube for her TV. If she is watching TV when your call comes in, it will actually pause the TV! (Reference 2). She will also have other benefits using the Fire TV Cube such as voice control of her TV shows and family pictures.

 

Do My Siblings Also Need an Echo Show to Video Chat with Mom?

Bob: Oh, one last thing. My brothers and sisters will also want to do video chats with Mom. Will they all need an Echo Show?

Frank: They can just use an Alexa app on their cell phone. They will be able to call Mom and she can even call them! If they have the Alexa app running when she calls, they will be asked to answer the call. If the Alexa app is not running at that time, they will get a regular cell phone call and can then call her right back in the Alexa app. One of the benefits of using an Echo Show is that it will show you when Mom is nearby her Echo Show and that might be a good time to call her.

 

OK. You Convinced Me. :)

Bob: Ok, OK… I’m convinced. Please give me all the step by step info you mentioned.

Frank: Of course. Here are some detailed setup instructions.

 

 

List of Equipment, Software, and Applications Required

 

Equipment needed:

Amazon Echo Show device for your home and your Mom’s home.

  • Be sure to order hers as a “gift” so that Amazon does not pre-configure it for your settings.
  • You could reset it to “Factory Default”, if you ordered it configured (see below).

 

Wi-Fi at both locations.

  • Add a portable Wi-Fi hotspot, if Wi-Fi is not available if at your Mom’s location.

 

You need a mobile phone other than your own.

  • If your Mom does not have one, see the Google Voice workaround below.

 

Software needed:

  • Separate Amazon accounts for you and your parent.
  • Alexa app on your mobile phone.
  • Setup a Google account and a free Google Voice for your Mom — if she has no mobile phone.

 

 

Setup Instructions: Step by Step

 

1. Set up YOUR Echo Device

  1. Plug it in and wait for the prompts. (If you have previously ordered Amazon Echo devices, it may already have the steps below performed.)
  2. Select a language by tapping the screen.
  3. Select your Wi-Fi network name.
  4. Enter your Wi-Fi password.
  5. Enter your Amazon account email and password.
  6. Sign in.
  7. Confirm the time zone.

 

2. Set Up your MOM’s Echo Device

  1. Plug it in and wait for the prompts.
  2. If it was delivered with your settings, you can perform a Factory Default Reset (see below).
  3. Select a language by tapping the screen.
  4. Select YOUR Wi-Fi network name (this will be changed later).
  5. Enter YOUR Wi-Fi password and Tap CONNECT.
  6. Enter your MOM’s Amazon account email and password and Tap DONE.
  7. Sign in with your MOM’s account, tap CONTINUE.
  8. Set the correct time zone & address, tap CONTINUE.
  9. Choose a room location or skip.
  10. Rename the device to your preference, e.g. Mom’s Echo Show.
  11. Choose some wallpaper, e.g. Nature.
  12. Watch the video tutorial that pops up during setup for some usage hints.
  13. Select which "Amazon offers" you want (if any). NOTE: Your MOM does NOT need a Prime account, nor a payment method for this to work. And in general we recommend keeping things simple to start.
  14. When you bring this Echo Show to your Mom’s house, you will need to change the Wi-Fi settings.
  15. This would be a good time to review all the messages that will be popping up on her screen… some people are annoyed by too many messages. See next section.

 

Review Her "Settings" 

  1. Swipe down from the top of the screen.
  2. Tap the “Settings” gear in the upper right.
  3. Scroll to “Home Content”.
  4. Choose which messages you think she will find appropriate. (Note: you can only set these messages up while at her Echo Show… they are not remotely changeable.).

 

Notes on "Settings"

  • Drop-in is useful, if your Mom has trouble speaking to Alexa or tapping the answer button on a call.
  • Weather is always useful.
  • Shared with You can give you a means to send her pictures to automatically display.

 

Adjust Her Accessibility Settings

  1. Scroll to “Accessibility”.
  2. Choose the settings you think might be helpful.

 

Notes on Accessibility Settings:

  • Closed caption may be helpful.
  • Alexa Captioning helps by displaying the text of Alexa’s speech on the screen.
  • Communication Without Speech is useful. It transcribes voice messages into text.
  • Tap to Alexa adds an icon on the screen that your Mom could touch to call up Alexa actions you determine. For example:
    1. Music
    2. News
    3. Call your Alexa devices

 

Factory Default Reset (needed only if the Echo Show comes with your settings and you want to reset them)

  1. Swipe down from top of the screen.
  2. Tap “Settings” gear.
  3. Scroll to “Device Options” and tap it.
  4. Scroll to “Reset to Factory Defaults” and tap it.

 

 

3. Configure Alexa Communications for Your MOM’s Account

There are two different ways to create and configure your mother's Alexa Account, depending on whether or not she has a mobile phone capable of running the Alexa App.

 

The basic issue here is that the Alexa App needs some type of phone number to use as a reference to your mother's Alexa.

If she has a cellphone modern enough to run the Alexa App, then Alexa can use her cellphone number to remember her. However, if she does not have such a cell phone (or if you can't get your hands on it because she is locked way), then you can create a separate Google voice number in your mother's name, and give that to Alexa to use as a reference. In that case, she does not need a cellphone at all.

  • If she does have a mobile phone capable of running the Alexa Appp, and you can access that phone, then jump to "Scenario B".
  • If she does NOT have a mobile phone, or if you cannot access it, then there is an extra step first, as explained in Scenario A below.

 

 

Step 3a: Create Your Mother's Alexa Account

Scenario A: She does NOT have a mobile phone, or you cannot access her mobile phone.

You will need to perform these extra steps using YOUR cell phone by adding a Google Voice number. Google Voice will need to use your cell phone number to setup the new number.

NOTE: Alexa Communications really doesn’t “call” this number… it merely uses it as a reference to find your Mom’s Alexa Echo Show.

UPDATE: Since this was first published, reader Allynn made a great suggestion about using TextNow to receive the SMS text setup message. I tested it on a few systems and it works great as an alternative to Google Voice. However as of September 2021, TextNow requires you to use a paid version in order for the number to stay allocated to you for a period longer than a few months. You need this, so you need the paid version if you want to use this approach.

  1. Sign up for a Gmail account in her name (here is the link to signup for a Gmail account).
  2. Sign up for a Google Voice number in her name (here is the link to signup for Google Voice).
  3. Sign into the Alexa app on your phone, using your MOM’s Alexa account. (You will need to delete and re-install the Alexa app to do this). [Don't worry. Your settings are stored in the cloud, so when you have reinstalled the App and logged in again as you, your old settings should still be there!]
  4. Proceed to Step 3b.

 

Notes about setting up Google Voice:

  • Search a new number… do NOT use your phone number. Select any location & number.
  • Google will need to use YOUR mobile phone number to complete the setup with a text message.
  • Be sure to use your Mom’s Gmail account.
  • When you see the “Enter your phone number” prompt, enter YOUR cell phone number. (This will be used to receive a text code for confirmation of setup). 
  • Enter the code you received.
  • Note: Your cell phone number can have only ONE Google Voice Number assigned.

 

Scenario B. If your Mom has a mobile phone capable of running the Alexa app:
  • Install the Alexa app on her phone.
  • Log into the Alexa app (as your mother).
  • Proceed to Step 3b.

 

 

Step 3b: Enter the Phone Number Alexa will Use to Identify your Mother's Alexa

Once logged in (as your mother) you should see a screen that looks like this:

Alexa screen 1

Figure 2: Screenshot showing "Communicate" Icon.

 

  • Tap the “Communicate” icon on the bottom left (fig 2). Then:
Scenario A:
  • Enter the Google Voice number, then grant permissions for calling and messaging.
  • Your phone’s Google Voice app will receive a verification code.
Scenario B:
  • Enter your Mom’s mobile phone information, then grant permissions for calling and messaging
  • Your Mom’s mobile phone will receive a verification code via text.

 

 

Step 3c: Add Your Contact Info So She Can Call You.

In figure 3 below you see the "Person Silhouette" in the upper right.

Person button on Alexa

Figure 3: Screenshot showing "Person Sillhouette"

  • Tap the “Person outline” in upper right (fig 3) A different screen will appear showing a "Contact List" as in figure 4 below.

 

Dots

Figure 4: Screenshot showing Contact List

  • Tap the 3 vertical dots in the upper right (Fig 4).
  • Add YOUR contact info so that Alexa Communications can reach you

 

Step 3d: Avoid "Importing your contacts"

Alexa will suggest you "import your contacts" but we don't recommend that.

Importing contacts

Figure 5: Decide whether to "Import Contacts"

  • Do NOT import all contacts (fig 5)

 

 

Step 3e: Set up "Drop-in Feature"

  • If your Mom approves, you could also enable Drop-in for your contact. (This can be enabled later, by signing into her Alexa account if conditions change).
  • Save and close the Alexa app.

 

 

4. Configure Alexa Communications for YOUR account

  • Log back into your Alexa app. (If you had to use your phone to complete your Mom’s setup, you will need to delete & re-install the Alexa app).
  • Tap the “Communicate” icon on the bottom left (Fig 2).
  • Tap the “Person silhouette” in upper right (Fig 3).
  • Tap the 3 vertical dots in the upper right (Fig 4). Then Add your Mom’s contact info so that Alexa Communications can reach her from YOUR Alexa App.
  • Don’t import all contacts (Fig 5).
  • Save.

 

 

5. Test the Installation

You can test this even before delivering to your Mom’s house.

  • Move your Mom’s Echo Show to another room to reduce audio feedback. This also enables you to talk to one of the Alexas without the other one responding to your voice.
  • On your Echo Show say “Alexa, call Mom” (or whatever name or nickname you put in your Alexa Contacts). (Note: the first time Alexa may ask if you want her mobile phone or Alexa devices… choose Alexa devices.)
  • Your Mom’s Echo Show should offer her the option to answer.
  • After hanging up, try calling your Echo Show from her Echo show.

 

Final steps

If everything worked, bring the Echo Show to your Mom’s home and change the Wi-Fi settings when it boots up.

 

Q&A

Please leave any questions in the comments below, and I will try and respond. 

In addition, we are collecting common questions and answers people have sent us on the page: "Alexa Questions & Answers" (also here on Tech-enhanced Life).

 

 

References

(1) Amazon advice post on setting up Alexa "for your loved one".

(2) See my DIY Solution: FireTV Cube to pause TV when Alexa calls.

 

Disclaimer: This article represents the opinions of the author. This article was NOT sponsored by Amazon or any other corporation. 

 

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Reader Comments: "How to Set Up Alexa Calling for a Loved One"

 

from Sanross (unverified) at December 03, 2020

Thanks for your reply Frank. Google voice is not available in Canada and she doesn't have a smart phone. My understanding is that you can use the Alexa app on windows 10 to set it up? I don't really want to set up her device on my account as my siblings and their children would like to access her amazon account to upload photos. I don't want to give them my account information.

 

from faengelm (member) at December 04, 2020

Hello Sanross,

I understand the reason for not sharing your Alexa account, and that’s one reason many people choose to get their loved one their own Alexa account.

I was surprised to hear the Google voice isn’t offered in Canada.  I found this rather complicated workaround if you are interested. I don’t have a way to check to see if this really works.

You are right, there is an Alexa app that runs on Windows 10, and it does support Alexa Calling. But, you would first need to configure your Mom’s Alexa account with a unique phone number. That phone number needs to be able to receive a PIN from an SMS text for set up of Alexa Calling

Amazon has chosen to use the mobile phone number assigned in your Amazon account to reference the person you are calling via Alexa. That person also needs to have a different phone number assigned to their Amazon account

If you think the Google Voice workaround for Canada is not what you want, I suggest you buy a cheap smartphone for your mom with the smallest possible plan. She won’t need the phone after the account is set up, so you could keep it as a backup for yourself

Frank

 

from Sandra Ross (unverified) at December 07, 2020

Hi Frank
Thanks so much for trying to help me through this. I received the Alexa show yesterday. Such a beautiful device but I lost sleep last night trying to figure this out. I do have a spare phone as the work around is just too complicated. Does the spare phone need a data plan or just ability receive text? Also I live in BC and she lives in Ontario. I guess it would be ok for her number to be a BC number? I am trying to get this set up and off to her so we can video call each other on Christmas. Cheers, Sandra

 

from Allynn (member) at December 05, 2020

Hi Sanross.  Frank might have better info but here is my 2 cents:

You need a cell phone to receive a text message to set up the app in your Mom's name but this is a one time thing. I just found www.textnow.com which is a free service (no credit card info required).  I logged in to it using a Google account I set up for my parrot (!) and I used the Canadian area code 413 to get a valid number.  I texted it from my phone and the message went through!  So this is definitely an option.  Be sure to set up a Google account for you Mom and add all of her contacts.  Contacts are, I believe, the only other thing Alexa would need from a cell phone number.  Hope this works for you.  I'm setting up a whole "Alexa-verse" for my 89-year-old Dad for Christmas and there is so much to learn!

 

from faengelm (member) at December 06, 2020

Hi Allynn,

Thanks for the TextNow.com tip. That is a great idea! I just tried it on two Amazon accounts that did not have mobile numbers and it let them do Alexa Calling. 

For anyone trying this,  I suggest using the Google account and your web browser.  This removes the need to install the TextNow mobile app

Frank

 

from sanross (member) at December 07, 2020

Oh wow. I created a number using text now. It wouldn't let me use her actual area code so picked a Vancouver code so at least it is famiiar. So next question. I already started setting up the Alexa show and would like to do a factory reset to start over now that I have a unique number. Is that a bad idea? Will it let me use her Amazon account again?

 

from faengelm (member) at December 07, 2020

Hello sanross,

I would not recommend doing a factory reset just to change the phone number.

This phone number will not be called by you. It's just an internal reference number used by Amazon to connect your Alexa account to your Mom's Alexa account.

So when you call your Mom, you will just call her by name, not by the number

For example, I just say "Alexa, call Aunt Bernice"  and it uses her assigned number as an internal reference to make the connection

Frank

 

 

 

from sanross (member) at December 07, 2020

Thank you, thank you, thank you! It works. Got a $10 month prepaid plan on an old phone and we are in business. Appreciate all your help so much. Will be able to sleep tonight.

Cheers

Sandra

 

from sanross (member) at December 07, 2020

Hi again. I set up a Canadian number and I was able to send and receive to it from my mobile. When I went in to my Mom's Alexa profile to add a mobile number it would not send the OTP to textnow. 

 

from Sandra Ross (unverified) at December 07, 2020

Hi, thanks I will definitely look into this!
Cheers
Sandra

 

from Rhea (unverified) at December 03, 2020

Thank you so much for taking the time to put these detailed instructions together. I was able to setup an Echo Show for my grandmother by following your instructions. We are now able to connect with her while we are unable to visit her in person.

 

from Joann (unverified) at December 08, 2020

Thank so much for this setp by step set up. I got my Dad (96 years old) a echo show 2nd gen.
I got it working. I can drop in on him from my phone. My problem is when he calls me it goes to my echo dot at home not my alexa on my phone. What did I do wrong.
Thanks

 

from faengelm (member) at December 08, 2020

Hello Joann,

I assume he is not asking to “drop-in” on you because that is not supported on phones

When your Dad says, “Alexa, call Joann” it will respond with “Calling Joann’s Alexa devices”. 

This will cause ALL of the Alexa devices on your account to show the incoming call, not just your phone.

For a phone to act as an Alexa device, it needs to have the Alexa app running in the background. This means that you have to open the Alexa app at least once after rebooting the phone and never close the Alexa app. It can be in the background as it does not have to be the active app on the screen

I have found that Android phones will keep the Alexa app active in the background, but iPhones seem not to handle incoming call requests well.

The best way to handle this is if your father gets the response (after a lot of rings) that “the contact is not available", then he should say this to Alexa

“Alexa, call Joann’s mobile device”

Frank

 

from Joann (unverified) at December 12, 2020

Thanks so much wil try that!

 

from Amanda (unverified) at December 09, 2020

Thank you so much for the step by step guide. I do have a question. If my grandmother has a cell phone, a flip phone that can receive text messages, would that work or does it need to be able to download the Alexa app? Thank you!

 

from faengelm (member) at December 12, 2020

Hi Amanda,

You bring up an interesting case. Since your Mom's flip phone can receive a text message, there is no need to get a Google Voice number.

But, her flip phone can't install the Alexa app, so you must follow the steps where you use your smartphone logging in as her.

Take look at the step 3a where it talks about her having no phone... you can skip the Google Voice part

Step 3a: Create Your Mother's Alexa Account
Scenario A: She does NOT have a mobile phone, or you cannot access her mobile phone.

Frank

 

from JeffLo50 (member) at December 09, 2020

First of all Frnak, thanks very much for all the information you have put together for us. This is fantastic. I have the same questions some other have about the phone. My mother has a flip phone that can recieve text messages. Can I use that for the Alexa number assigned to her? I am unclear how that number applies to the whole setup.

 

from faengelm (member) at December 10, 2020

Hello JeffLo50,

Since your Mom’s flip phone can receive text messages, it will work fine. Just enter that number into her Amazon account.

All that Alexa Calling uses that number for is a way to connect your Amazon account with your Mom’s Amazon account to route the video call over the Internet versus the phone carrier’s service

If for some reason you wanted to make a “voice call” to your Mom, say if she was away from home, you could tell Alexa

“Alexa, call Mom’s mobile phone”

Frank

 

from Tim (unverified) at January 15, 2021

Code to flip phone then used app on my phoneto set up and enter contacts worked great.
Thanks

 

from faengelm (member) at January 15, 2021

Hello Tim,

Thanks for verifying this solution. A flip-phone that can receive the one-time-code is a great solution

Frank

 

from Cammie (unverified) at December 19, 2020

Thank you sooo much for all the detail. This has been wonderfully easy because of your article. I just want to be clear on one thing. Ive set up mom's echo show 10. From my Alexa app on my phone I can video chat and drop in to her echo show.
From her echo show she can make a "voice" call to my cell just by saying call Cammie's mobile. However, it is not possible for her to "video" call or "drop in" to my cell phone. Is this correct?? Thanks so much for your help!

 

from faengelm (member) at December 19, 2020

Hello Cammie,

You Mom should be able to make a video call to your cell phone, but NOT a drop-in call, as that is not supported on mobile devices

When she says "Alexa, call Cammie" Alexa should ask her "do you mean mobile or Alexa Devices". If your Mom previously called your mobile, Alexa may assume she wants to do that again, so have her try this:

"Alexa, call Cammie's Alexa Devices"

Please note that Alexa will be also making a call to the Alexa devices in your home. so someone there may also pick up before you do

You should NOT need to have the Alexa app open full-screen on your phone, but I suggest that you launch the Alexa app and keep it in the background

Frank

 

from Alicia (unverified) at March 12, 2021

Hi Frank and Cammie,
We're having the same issue with my grandma's Echo Show 10. I've walked through this article for set-up using a Google Voice number (THANK YOU so much for this article!!) but each time we try to make a video call from Grandma's Show to either my mom's or my sister's Alexa devices (they only have the app on their phones, they don't have Alexa devices themselves), it doesn't ring through - it goes directly to voicemail/leave a message after 2-3 seconds. They can call to her, and we can make mobile calls to their phones, but no luck video calling them. They've tried having the app open full-screen, no DND on, we've reset the devices, logged out/logged in...2 hours on Amazon's support chat and still no luck. Any other recommendations you'd try for this? Thank you!

 

from faengelm (member) at March 15, 2021

Hello Alicia,

I'm having the same problem with this feature and I'm in discussions with Amazon Tech Support.  This used to work for me as far back as 2018.

But until I can get Amazon support to recognize this as a bug, I’d like to suggest the following as a workaround for your mother when initiating a call with your sister.

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

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

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

Then she will just have to say "Alexa, call XXX"

Frank

 

from Jeanne R (unverified) at December 21, 2020

Again, thank you. One issue- I set up mom's echo with my cell number and got her a google voice number. But every time my brother calls my cell phone rings... I am not sure what I did or didn't do? I need to disconnect my cell from her Echo Show.

 

from faengelm (member) at December 21, 2020

Hello Jeanne,

I believe the problem is that your cell number is currently assigned to your Mom's Amazon account. Try logging into your Mom's Amazon account (the shopping account) and see what phone number is assigned to her account. It should be the Google Voice number, but I suspect it's your number. You can also check the number assigned in her Alexa account as shown below.

Here are some additional details in the FAQ we recently created  Alexa Calling FAQ  under this heading:

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

Frank

 

from rrl (unverified) at December 24, 2020

Hello, I tried using the Google Voice for my elderly parent. During testing, I was also getting phone calls from others. I went online into the Google Voice account for my parent and saw that my cell phone number was linked (because I needed to be able to receive text code). When I deleted my cell phone number as a linked number from my parents' GV account, the calls stopped.

 

from faengelm (member) at December 26, 2020

Hello rrl,

Thanks for sharing your solution.

I have a question about those phone calls you were getting. Were they from strangers or from family members who are contacts on your parent’s Alexa account?

If the calls were from strangers, that was because Google will re-assign phone numbers after it detects non-usage. I believe prior users of that number may have still thought it was active. Those phone calls would have been forwarded to your cell by Google Voice as your parent’s Alexa can’t receive incoming phone calls to a number.

If the calls were coming from family members, it could be that they were saying “Alexa, call Dad’s mobile” when they should have said “Alexa, call Dad’s Alexa devices”. The other possibility is that they believed that the Google Voice number assigned to your Dad was a real number that they could dial. It’s really only used to link the Amazon accounts, not for incoming phone calls.

The only ways for an Echo Show to receive incoming phone calls are 1. An Echo Device with a landline or VoIP, 2. A Skype PAID number, 3. AT&T NumberSync with a cell number

I’m glad you found a solution, but I’m interested in what caused the problem so that I can share it with others

Frank

 

from Joao Melo (unverified) at December 26, 2020

Hi there, thanx for your wonderful post.
I have one or two questions, and hope you may help me.
I bought an echo show for my mother. Is it mandatory that she has a smarthphone with the alexa app installed? Or can I do what is needed thru my smartphone? She has a basic phone that reads and writes text messages and makes calls.

I still can't understand how the echo show system works.. Does it rely on gmail for the contacts? On what does it rely if not google? How is the identification of each echo show device made? I just cant solve this puzzle in my head.
Thanx in advance

 

from faengelm (member) at December 26, 2020

Hi Joao,

Your Mom does not need a smartphone to set up Alexa Calling. However, although you can use YOUR smartphone with HER Alexa app to set up HER Echo Show, she needs a different phone number capable of receiving a confirmation text during setup.

This is handled either by getting a free Goggle Voice Number or a free TextNow.com number. These are Internet phone numbers capable of receiving the confirmation text message during the Alexa Calling set up.

This number is then tied to your Mom's Amazon Shopping account as a phone number and is used by Alexa as a reference to find your Amazon account when placing a call

It won't really be used to make actual phone calls, it's just used as a way to locate different Amazon Accounts when using Alexa Calling

Now since she has a phone that can receive text messages, that will work just fine. There is an added advantage to this approach in that if you say "Alexa, call Mom's Mobile device", your Alexa can place a voice call to her phone. You can so add an Alexa Skill so that she can say "Alexa, Find my phone" to have it ring if misplaced

Regarding your question on Contacts, its better to manually enter them when you set up Alexa rather than importing all your phone's contacts.

Frank

 

from Louise (unverified) at December 26, 2020

I wished I had found this a week ago. It would have saved me hours and hours and hours. Glad I found it. Thank you soooo much

 

from Louise (unverified) at December 28, 2020

Shared with You can give you a means to send her pictures to automatically display. Can you explain how to get Amazon photos to grandparents show. My son picked 400+ photos to put on their echo shows.

 

from faengelm (member) at December 28, 2020

Hello Louise,

I've had other requests for this. I think its a great feature and there a few ways to do this.

Some methods require you to make some settings on the Echo Show locally, before you can remotely post pictures

I'm working on an article to be published here with the goal being that you could set this up remotely

Frank

 

from Chitra venkatraman (unverified) at January 05, 2021

Hello Frank, we set up echo show for my 90 year old mom. But, she has a hard time even to say Alexa , call chitra. Is there a way to set up echo to just show a small picture of me so that if she touches, it will generate a call to me ? It seems very easy to do( I am also a Retired EE). I have been using the video door bell Ring for her to reach me for years. works great, except no video for her. Mom does not really speak English and had a stroke.

 

from faengelm (member) at January 05, 2021

Hello Chitra, my fellow retired EE,

Unfortunately, Echo Show does not offer a “touchable picture” button. However, there is a feature that may work for your mom, but it requires TWO touches

On the Echo Show under Settings- Accessibility- enable Tap to Alexa. This will put a small “hand” on the screen that you can reposition.

Tap that on-screen button and Tap “Add New.” You can add an icon to cause Alexa to receive a command you would normally speak, such as “Alexa, call frank engelman’s alexa devices”

You can increase the button size so that only three appear when the “hand” is tapped.

If that is too difficult for her, consider using the “Custom Actions”  as described in this Alexa Routine article with a big Echo Button with your picture on it 

BTW, there is a way to change Alexa’s language under Settings- Device Options- Device Language

Frank

 

from Chitra (unverified) at March 08, 2021

Sorry I did not get back. I will look into the Alexa Routine. As for language, my language spoken version is so different that it does not lend itself to any of these. We have an interesting Alexa problem. Mom thinks there is this Alexa woman always hanging around when we talk, she is not crazy about talking to me on Alexa, LOL! It may help to put Alexa on mute when we are talking.

 

from faengelm (member) at March 08, 2021

Hello Chitra,

It's a common problem with Alexa always listening when you mention her name. Many of the Alexa YouTube Channels try to suppress her name when they are demoing Alexa commands as they don't want your Alexa to respond. Some even call her Miss “A” or “She who shall not be named” when discussing her.

Maybe you should change the wake word to "Computer" so that is what your mom would say it she really wants to talk to Alexa

Frank

 

from Tom Eggleston (unverified) at January 16, 2021

This is a great article - I wish I had read it before I setup the echo show for my wife's mother.
Two things to add:
1. Mom kept hitting the mute/privacy button on the top of the echo show 10. I taped two washers (one larger to fit around the button and a smaller one to fit over the button to shield it). Now she cannot press the button. No more problems with her being muted!
2. We setup an old phone with mom's Amazon account & email & Alexa sign in. Much easier to troubleshoot! One time she somehow enabled the 'Do Not Disturb' feature and it took me 2 days to figure out why her device wouldn't work. Having the old phone setup with the correct account makes remote admin easy.

 

from faengelm (member) at January 17, 2021

Hello Tom,

I really like your idea of the washers around the mute button.

Just like you, I use an old iPhone (with no service) with my Aunt's account so that I can remotely make Echo device and Alexa changes for her.

This method makes it easy to add Alexa Routines 

Frank

 

from John P (unverified) at January 26, 2021

Hi Frank --

The solution you detailed (including using Google Voice) worked great for my mom. Thank you so much!

Recently, though, Amazon has asked for authentication/authorization when she attempts to buy something, and it's sending those validation requests to the Google Voice number. This is NOT the "Two-Step Verification (2SV) Settings"... which are not set up for her account.

I can remove the Google Voice number from her Amazon account settings, but I fear doing so would disable her ability to use the Echo Show for calls. I don't see any way in the Amazon account settings to turn off these authorization attempts, or to direct them to her email only.

Worst case scenario - I can authorize on her behalf via Google Voice. Just hoping to find a solution that doesn't add me as a potential blocker.

Thanks again!

 

from faengelm (member) at January 27, 2021

Hello John,

I assume you are describing a problem with voice purchasing. 

I personally haven't used voice purchasing, but in looking at the Alexa app, here is what I see:

  • Tap More
  • Tap Settings
  • Tap Account Settings
  • Tap Voice Purchasing
  • Tap Purchase confirmation

It appears to give you several choices using a voice profile, voice code, or no confirmation.

I didn't see anything about sending an SMS text to the assigned number for confirmation.

But you are right; do NOT remove the Google number from her account or you will lose Alexa Calling.

Frank

 

from John P (unverified) at January 27, 2021

Really appreciate the response, Frank.

No, unfortunately, this is not voice purchasing. This is for regular purchases through my mom's web browser. Before proceeding with a purchase, Amazon sends a "text" to the Google Voice number. I receive the alert of a new text through the Google Voice app on my phone. I follow a link in the text and click a button to "approve" the transaction, and she's then able to proceed. Not a problem if I'm near my phone and monitoring for incoming messages, but that's not always possible.

Two-factor authentication has not been set up on her account (I confirmed this by logging into her account and checking myself).

I think I'll need to walk her through logging into the gmail account I created for the Google Voice account, as that gmail also receives the incoming texts and the links to the "approve" button. She can then handle the approval herself without waiting for me. A simple enough thing to do, but for her, a baffling and stressful extra step. I may also try calling Amazon support on her behalf to see if they can help modify the security settings.

Regards,
John

 

from Melinda Leitch (unverified) at January 28, 2021

Thanks for the wonderful article. Hoping you can give me some advice or reassuance before I attempt to fix my issue. I got an echo for my mother and set it up using my amazon account because she didnt know her amazon password. I was able to call her once and after that was never able to connect again. I now have her amazon password and gmail and all the other things I need but I am 700 miles away and dont want to mess it up entirely because she plays music all the time on it.

So questions is -- if I deregister it from my account can I complete the set up 100% remotely or do I have to wait until I can have face-to-face contact again. She is able to follow instructions if there were any easy to do steps.

Thanks

 

from faengelm (member) at January 28, 2021

Hello Melinda,

I think the best way to handle this is to keep your Mom’s Echo Show on your own Amazon Account until you visit her.

You still can do video calls with her by saying “Alexa, call ‘XXXX’ ”  where XXX is whatever you named your Mom’s Echo Show.

You can even drop-in on her. If you haven’t enabled that feature, you can do that in your Alexa app under:

  • Devices
  • Your Mom's Echo Show name
  • Communications
  • Drop in

Your Mom can also call you. You might want to rename your device to something like “Melinda” so that she can just say:

“Alexa, call Melinda”

Now you might be wondering why everyone doesn’t use this simple setup for their loved one’s devices like this. Here is a discussion and the +/- of doing it like this.

Frank

 

from Melinda Leitch (unverified) at January 29, 2021

Thanks. I will go back to trying to trouble shoot why it no longer works to call her with Call XXX. The linked discussion mentions when he calls someone it will show she is calling. I could live with that, but we also had issues with when someone would call me or her it would ring us both. Is there a way to fix that? If not, it should definately be added to the negatives of doing it this way. Thanks again Melinda

 

from faengelm (member) at January 31, 2021

Hello Melinda,

You are right that when someone makes an Alexa call to YOU, it will ring on ALL devices in your account that have Communications enabled, including your mother's device on your account.

That is something I will need to add to the negatives on this list "Should I add my Dad to my Alexa account or create one for him?"

Regarding your original question of changing her device to her account, she would have to do a factory reset and login with her account and handle the SMS code sent to that phone number you have set up for her.

Rather than making the 700-mile trip, have you considered buying another Echo Show 8 and setting it up at your home under your Mom's account? While it is at your home, it will be connected to your Wi-Fi, but you can add your Mom's Wi-Fi settings before you ship it to her.

Frank

 

from Pam Gallego (unverified) at January 30, 2021

Having a difficult time getting the OTP code via Textnow in order to complete the set up. I'm in Canada. Any advice is appreciated

 

from faengelm (member) at January 30, 2021

Hello Pam,

I'm in the US and was able to use textnow to set up a couple of test systems. Allynn who is in Canada is also using it.

If you can describe what step you are having trouble on, maybe we can help.

If nothing else works for you in Canada, you could try what another reader has done which is to get a cheap mobile phone and plan for your loved one. 

Frank

 

from Diane Simmons (unverified) at January 31, 2021

Frank, I just bought an Alexa Echo Show for me to be able to check on my mother that live with me. How do I set up the Alexa show at my house for her? She has an Ipad but no cell phone. Do I need to get her a gmail account and a voice number? Do I set it up to my account or do I get her own for the echo show at our house for her.

 

from faengelm (member) at February 01, 2021

Hi Diane,

While it’s the easiest to just add your mom’s Echo Show to your own account, there are some issues that we list in this article “Should I add my Dad to my Alexa account or create one for him?” which deals with the case of adding a loved one to your account, when they live at another house.

Some of these issues would apply when adding your mom’s Echo Show to your account within your own house.

There is an additional issue that reader Melinda raised that anyone making an Alexa Call to your mom would also ring all your devices.

I suggest that you start by adding her Echo Show to your own account and see if you run into any of these issues.

Frank

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Last Updated: September 10, 2021.