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 Diane Simmons (unverified) at February 01, 2021

Can you give me the steps to set up? I bought the Echo Show 8 yesterday and I put it in our the Living room where my mother is most of the time. I want to be able to call her when I am at my office or going somewhere. I also have an Alexa in that room as well connect to our tv. So if I get her own gmail number and account. I would just set up under her even though it is my house for her to have others call her as well, correct?

 

from faengelm (member) at February 01, 2021

Hello Diane,

Thank you for your detailed response, but I have a question. When you say, “She has an Ipad that uses a number,” do you mean a cell service where she can receive text messages? If that is the case, there is no need for a Google Voice number as her iPad could receive the confirmation text.

Assuming that is the case, just create a Gmail account for her and use that to create an Amazon account for her using that Gmail address and her iPad text number. There is no need for it to be a Prime account or add any payment method.

Be sure to add your contact information and other family members in her Alexa account and her contact information in your Alexa account.

You will be able to make a video call her using the Alexa app and even Drop In on her if you enable that in her account. She can also make a video call to your phone.

Frank

 

from Diane Simmons (unverified) at February 01, 2021

Thank you Frank, I just want to clarify, My mother lives at my house and I bought an Echo show yesterday and only 1 of them. So I need to set it up using information for her, not me and then I can program the tv for her in our family room and also her bedroom? I add the Alexa app to her Ipad, and get her google account and mail account. Then I go into my alexa app and it as her's and then I can call her and others can call her and I can manage it all. Correct? I have another echo in the family room where I want to put the show, so I can just move that one and use the show for the family room tv and everything. Correct?

Also, She has an Ipad that uses a number, could I use that number as her number since I will be setting up our Alexa show for her at my house?

 

from Salle Mostyn (unverified) at February 06, 2021

I set up an echo show for my dad linking it to my daughter’s mobile phone number. (She lives with me). I want to video call dad using Alexa app on my phone. We practised at our house - all working fine. Posted Alexa to dad and the telephone engineer set it up and running for him, obviously on dad’s wifi. Video call between dad’s show and my phone Alexa app working fine both with me calling him and vice versa. One day later and the devices won’t connect. It looks like I am calling the echo show on the app ( it’s named as my daughter’s Alexa device on the app) but the call fails. My poor dad had spent the whole evening saying ‘Alexa call Salle’ and my phone never registered the call. Do the apps need to be permanently open on our phones for it to work? The only difference I can think of is that my daughter enabled drop in and then tried to give my number permission to drop in but that’s not working either... not sure if we’ve confused the device. I’m not especially tech savvy myself, I just want to be able to video call my dad. Have we set this up wrong? My daughter is already getting annoyed at being roped in to try and sort it out

 

from faengelm (member) at February 09, 2021

Hello Salle,

I just want to be sure I understand how your Dad’s Echo Show is setup.

  • I assume that he has his own Alexa account, and your daughter’s phone number is linked to that account.
  • Your daughter enabled drop-in on your Dad’s Alexa Echo Show, giving your Alexa account (your mobile number) permission to drop in.

If that is the case, it should work fine. I just need to be sure that your Dad has his own Alexa account, not that you added him to your account. If he is on your account, there are other ways to call him that I can describe, if needed.

Calling your Dad:

When you make an Alexa call to your Dad, be sure to say “Alexa, call XXX’s Alexa devices”, where XXX is whatever name you entered for Dad’s Contact info in YOUR Alexa app. You can also say “Alexa, drop in on XXX”

Dad calling you:

Be sure he says “Alexa, call YYY’s Alexa devices”, where YYY is whatever name you entered for your Contact info in Dad’s Alexa app. He won’t be able to drop in on your phone, as that is not supported.

Even if your Alexa app is not getting the call on your mobile phone, she should still be able to call your mobile phone (audio only) through Alexa by saying “Alexa, call YYY’s mobile device”

Alexa may ask him a few times until she learns his calling preference for you, then he can just say “Alexa, call Salle”

Regarding whether the Alexa app needs to be open on your phone:

If you power down your phone and later turn it back on, you need to open the Alexa app once, but it does need to remain open full screen. Both iPhone and Android phones let the Alexa app run in the background, even when you close the Alexa app.

If you added your Dad’s Echo Show to your Alexa account, you may want to read this article (Should I add my Dad to my Alexa account or create one for him?)

 It can still work like that, but there are some downsides.

Frank

 

from Salle Mostyn (unverified) at February 14, 2021

Hi Frank thank you for your reply. I set up the echo device with an Amazon account set up for my dad specifically for this purpose. I linked the device to my daughter’s number. We found that despite adding contacts and asking our mobile Alexa apps to call dad, or dad asking his echo to call us, it has not made the connection. The only way I could video call him was by using the drop in feature from my daughter’s phone. Even though she enabled drop in for me, my Alexa app tells me that my dad’s device is not available. We have got round this problem as follows: on my phone - signing out of my Amazon account and re-signing in as dad. A passcode was sent to my daughter’s phone to give permissions, so I am now able to drop in on dad using my own phone. Daughter happy. This is working ok as we have arranged the same time every day for me to drop in, which fulfils the purpose of ´seeing’ dad. Still unclear as to why asking Alexa to make a call isn’t working, but I will try it again and see if being logged in on my phone will make the difference. Thank you for your advice and great articles. Salle

 

from faengelm (member) at February 15, 2021

Hello Salle,

First, I want to compliment you on your excellent troubleshooting!

I'm glad that you found a workaround, and I think there may be a way to making Alexa Calling work now that you have drop-in working.

I just ran a test on my own devices, and I can both drop-in AND call a specific device on my account. In my case, the device's name is Dad's Echo Show.

For drop-in:            I say "Alexa, drop in Dad's Echo Show" and it drops in on that Echo Show

For Alexa Calling:  I say, "Alexa, call Dad's Echo Show" and it calls that Echo Show

Please note that for Alexa Calling, I MUST say the device name. I can't say "Alexa, call Frank Engelman"

Please be sure you are using your Dad's device name when calling, not his Alexa Contact name

If you find that it's a problem keeping your phone logged into your Dad's Alexa account, you could do what several other readers and I do. We dedicate an old phone (no cell service required) or old tablet to our loved one's Alexa account. It can be on your Wi-Fi network. That way, you can easily make changes to your Dad's devices, such as adding Alexa Routines.

Frank

 

from Pamcakes (member) at February 17, 2021

This was exactly what I needed! Thank you for the step by step guidelines. It tested successfully, and I'm going to take it to my mom's residence for the final test. 

 

from tomoregon (unverified) at February 20, 2021

I bought 2 Shows - one for my mother who lives far away; one for me. I also bought a Jetpack since she has no wifi. Also, she uses a flip phone, not a smart phone. I set up both Shows with your instructions. I've sent the Show to my mom. When it arrives she will plug it in along with the Jetpack for wifi. I expect things to go OK. A friend who has some tech ability will be over in a few days. My question is this: I used a Google voice number for the set up. The GV number is on her Alexa account at present. When the techy friend is there I would like to change the phone number in her Alexa account to her flip phone number. Hopefully the friend will be able to respond to the text on her phone. Do you foresee any problems? Is there any advantage? Lastly, her device has the name, "Mom's Show". Will my cousin, for example, be able to call my mom's device by calling "Mom's Show" from her Alexa contacts with mom's flip phone number? Thank you.

 

from faengelm (member) at February 21, 2021

Hello tomoregon,

You have done excellent work planning this solution for your mom. I understand that this was up with Google voice because you didn’t have access to your mom’s flip phone during setup.

While staying with Google Voice would work fine, it would be better to convert to the flip phone number for a couple of reasons:

  1. In case Google or Amazon ever requests another confirmation in the future.
  2. You can also make phone calls to your mom’s flip phone through Alexa Calling by saying “Alexa, call XXX’s mobile” where XXX is the Alexa contact name for your mom’s number.

There should be no problem switching to the flip phone number if your friend signs into your mom’s Alexa account. Instead, you might want to do that remotely at the time to make this easier for them.  All they would only have to tell you is the code they receive on the flip phone.

Please be sure to let your mom know if there are any steps required to restart the Jetpack after a power outage.

Regarding your cousin calling your mom, they should say “Alexa, call XXX” where XXX is their Alexa contact name for your mom’s number.

Alexa will ask if they want her “Alexa devices” or “mobile” a few times until it learns their preference.

If you want Alexa drop-in privileges, you will have to remotely enable that in your mom’s account on the Echo Show and in Alexa Contacts under your name and your cousin’s name.

Frank

 

from John Frazee (unverified) at March 04, 2021

Thank you so much for this extremely helpful article! After a couple hours chatting with Amazon support last night, and no success at setting the device up, I was ready to send the Amazon Show 10 we bought for my 94 year old mother back. But I found your article today and by this evening she was calling and receiving video calls! Donation has been made to help continue your great work!

 

from faengelm (member) at March 05, 2021

Hello John,

I am so happy to hear this worked out for your mother. You might be interested in some of our articles on other ways to make Alexa useful for her

Frank

 

from Tahoe Mom (unverified) at March 25, 2021

Thank you for this article and instructions. We want all grandparents (3) to have this device. Can you configure by using one cell phone with Google Voice or find other cell phones to set up the Echo device?

 

from faengelm (member) at March 28, 2021

Hello Tahoe Mom,

Each Echo Show needs its own phone number as that is used by Alexa Calling to contact the device. It's not actually used for calling, just as a reference in their Alexa Contact. If you have tried Google Voice, you probably know that it requires a different smartphone for each Google voice number when setting it up. If you try to set up a second Google Voice number with the same smartphone, it will say it already assigned.

If any of your grandparents have a flip phone that receives text messages, that could be used to set up Alexa calling.

Another solution is to use the textnow service which uses a browser rather than a smartphone number for set up.

Lastly, you could get the cheapest burner smartphone with the cheapest plan

I'm sorry that Amazon is making this so hard as I belive they could have used an Amazon account email address as a reference.

Frank

 

 

from Patrice Cunningham (unverified) at March 28, 2021

Wow! Thank you so much! I’ve been trying to get Alexa to work in my mom’s ALF to no avail. She does not have and can’t work a smart phone. Thes instructions eliminated that need. These instructions also worked great for an standard Echo ( no Echo Show needed). The concept of setting up a free Google phone number and installing/uninstalling the Alexa app, made the difference. Thank you so much!!!

 

from faengelm (member) at March 29, 2021

Hello Patrice,

I'm so glad it works for you.  I have never heard of anyone doing an audio-only installation... a great idea.

Regards,

Frank

 

from Ian (unverified) at May 17, 2021

Google Voice is not available in Canada. Is there another solution?

 

from faengelm (member) at May 17, 2021

Hello Ian,

We have posted an update to the original instructions (above) to add TextNow for those who are unable to use Google voice:

Step 3a: Create Your Mother's Alexa Account

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.

 

 

from Meagan (unverified) at July 18, 2021

I absolutely appreciate this post and how to guide!! I am attempting to set this up for my mother in law - I went the route of using Google Voice, and attached my cell number. However, now, when someone calls my MIL's number, my cell rings and not Alexa. Not really sure what I did wrong, or how to go back and fix it? Suggestions?
Thank you so much!

 

from faengelm (member) at July 20, 2021

Hello Meagan,

You didn’t do anything wrong.

Please note that the Google Voice number that was assigned to your MIL’s Echo device is only to be used as a means for Alexa Calling to connect to her Echo. It was not to be used to receive incoming phone calls.

Your MIL can receive Alexa calls from other Echo devices or phones that are using the Alexa app, but NOT actual incoming phone calls.

I know this can be confusing, as even before you added Alexa Calling, her Echo device was able to make outgoing calls to phone numbers.

Amazon currently supports only two ways that an Echo device can receive incoming calls from a phone number.

The first is from a discontinued device called an Echo Connect which requires either a Landline or a VoIP connection.

The second way is using an AT&T service called NumberSync which works with a mobile number.

 

from TextNow not Google Voice (unverified) at August 28, 2021

Does the phone number need to stay current or is it basically only used for set up? The TextNow number will only stay active if it's used almost everyday.. Otherwise, the number gets recycled.

 

from faengelm (member) at August 29, 2021

It does need to stay current as Alexa Calling uses that as a reference for the two accounts to connect a call. 

TextNow has recently started enforcing their “use policy” and is offering a “number lock in service at $4.99/year to prevent this from happening".

https://help.textnow.com/hc/en-us/articles/1500003971461-How-Can-I-Lock-In-My-Number-

"Lock In Number will allow you to keep your number no matter how much you use it. You will not lose your number due to inactivity and it supports receiving verification codes. “ 

 

from Anonymous (unverified) at October 11, 2021

Each of my parents have an Echo Show 8. Mom at an assisted living facility and Dad at a nursing home. We were satisfied customers of the Soundmind service, which provided these ES8s, helped set them up with an assigned phone number, and provided a web portal so a family member (me) could remotely manage contacts and a few other features on their ES8s. Unfortunately, Soundmind recently announced they are discontinuing service on October 15th. As part of their announcement, they referenced a website for Alexa Together, a similar service that Amazon will be providing soon, but are not yet. In the meantime, I plan to follow Frank's instructions above to connect each device to a new Amazon account for each of my parents. Finally, my question... since I can only create one Google Voice account with my mobile phone, can I use my Mom's iPad Pro (Gen 2) to... (a) request a Google Voice number (she already has a gmail account); (b) enter that number while using her iPad to create Mom's Alexa account; and (c) receive a verification code via text message?

 

from faengelm (member) at October 11, 2021

You can use TextNow.com to provide the additional phone number on your phone that you need that allows you to receive that text message. Be sure to get their “number lock” service.

If you run into any issues setting up Alexa Calling, be sure to post them here.

 

from Kelly (unverified) at October 14, 2021

Thank you for the detailed answers. My parents live in Greece speaking only Greek and I live in the US. Is this going to work in this case?

 

from faengelm (member) at October 14, 2021

Yes, you can do it for them remotely.

If you log out of the Alexa app on your phone, you can log in as them to make changes to their Alexa settings.

  • More
  • Setting
  • Sign out

You can create the TextNow account for them on your phone

 

from Jon (unverified) at November 20, 2021

We followed the instructions provided to set up my Mom's echo show 8. When I call from my Alexa app, it shows up on her echo with my wife's name, not mine. I'm not sure where it is getting that association since my wife's name isn't on our amazon account other than credit cards as far as I can tell. I have my name listed as the only contact in my Mom's echo show and I have my Mom's google voice number listed under her name in my Alexa contacts and have allowed for drop in on both accounts. However, when I ask to drop in, it tells me that my Mom has not given me permission to do so. Where do I go from here?

 

from faengelm (member) at November 20, 2021

Hello Jon,

If you don’t have local access to your Mom’s account, you can connect remotely by logging out of your account on the Alexa app to check a few things on her account by taking these steps:
•    Tap More
•    Tap Settings
•    Tap Sign Out

Then sign in on the Alexa app with your mom’s account
•    Tap Communicate
•    Tap profile icon in upper right
•    Tap on your Contact name
•    Be sure “allow drop in” is enabled for your Contact name  
•    Tap Edit
•    Be sure your name is there and not your wife’s name

You may also want to add a nickname for your contact and add it as a favorite

 

from James2 (unverified) at November 23, 2021

Hi,
This is a great guide, and I am about to set this up for a loved one. I do have one question I am confused about. This person does have an amazon account but only has a flip phone, not a smartphone, So I will be adding or setting up the device through my smartphone. Can Someone else, that's not me Video Call the Echo Show I setup? How do others add, or video call the echo show I setup, is this possible?

 

from faengelm (member) at November 24, 2021

Since your loved one already has an Amazon account, you will just need to add their flip phone number to their Amazon account. They do not need a smartphone with the Alexa app as long as they are able to read the code sent by Amazon when adding it to their account.

Setting up that number as a Contact:

* Add their name and that flip phone number as a Contact in your Alexa app

* Ask anyone else wishing to call them to do the same

Since you are setting up the Echo Show for your loved one, you will need to log in as them on YOUR Alexa app to setup their Contacts:

Log out of the Alexa app on your phone:

  • Tap More
  • Tap Settings
  • Scroll down and sign out
  • Login as your loved one
  • Tap Communicate
  • Tap the person profile in upper right
  • Tap on their name
  • Tap Edit and enter that flip phone number
  • Tap Save
  • Tap back arrow
  • Tap Add New to add your Contact info and other who may call them

 

If you plan to use Drop In:

Be sure to enable drop in for each person’s Contact name that you want to have that feature

BTW, check that drop in is enabled on your loved one’s Echo Show in the Alexa app

  • Tap Devices
  • Tap the Echo Show name
  • Tap Settings (gear)
  • Tap Communications
  • Enable Drop in

 

from Eric M (unverified) at November 27, 2021

Hi,
I want to say that the amazon OTP verification service does not work.
I'm in Canada and tried voip.ms, Google Voice (n/a in Canada), Textnow, Textme Up, TextMe, Textplus all with no luck. I even tried buying a one month trial on Textme and all fail to receive a OTP code needed to setup drop-in with the Echo Show. Very frustrating. I'm considering getting a payasyougo sim for an old phone I have just to do the setup. Ridiculous.

Hopefully all this effort will be worth it.
Thanks

 

from faengelm (member) at November 28, 2021

Hello Eric M,

Thanks for the feedback. The requirement for a number capable of receiving an OTP text message is a big problem with Alexa Calling.

I know that reader Allynn has had success with TextNow.com in Canada. Maybe she can provide some details on how to get it to work.

I also found an article (www.creditwalk.ca/free-long-distance-set-up-google-voice-in-canada/) on how to set up Google Voice in Canada, but I don’t have a way to test it

 

from Eric M (unverified) at November 29, 2021

Hi,

I want to say thank you for this page.
It shows the full potential of how you use a Amazon Echo Show with a elderly family in ideal US market conditions.

I have a slight concern for non-US residents such as myself.
It would be super appreciated if it included info about limitations outside the US (i.e. if a key feature, like call captioning, is available outside the US - Side note in Canada, I can't seem to activate call captioning, or find any info for it on amazon.ca, except for the Echo Show 15 - to be heard if adding a cellphone number will enable the menu option on the Echo Show 8),

Thanks again for this page, it gives me hope that I can help break the loneliness of some of my luddite, hearing impaired family member(s).
Eric M

 

from faengelm (member) at November 30, 2021

The non-US problem shows up a lot on the Amazon User Forum and the best information that the staff suggests is this site

https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=202207000

But this is not a comprehensive list.

A Canada-based YouTuber Automate Your Life, who is a friend of mine, suggests this method for changing your account to the US

On the Amazon shopping website

  • Accounts & Lists
  • Content & devices
  • Preferences
  • Country/Region Settings
  • Current Country/Region

You can find his full description here @ 8:17

 

 

from Mark Edinburgh (unverified) at December 02, 2021

Hello Frank,
This is a brilliant resource and I’m definitely going to refer to it when setting up my mother-in-law’s show 8!
One question, whilst we’re going to enable the drop in feature, we were keen for her to be able to easily chose to use the show to connect with us too - bearing in mind that she has Alzheimer’s and that any menus are totally confusing for her, is there a way that we can set up some clearly named ‘buttons’ so that she can simply click on a button with the name of the person on it?
Much appreciated,
Mark

 

from faengelm (member) at December 02, 2021

Hello Mark,

If you feel she will be able to touch buttons on the Echo Show screen, there is an Accessibility feature called “Tap to Alexa”. It’s under Settings- Accessibility

It puts a small button on the screen that she would tap to get a list of on-screen buttons that you can configure to make Alexa Calls.

The button can do almost anything that you can speak to Alexa as a command.

For example, “Alexa, call Mark”

If you prefer physical buttons, here is something I set up as a Use Case for someone wanting to do Alexa Calling with a button on a Fire TV.

In the second video, you can note the button being used to make an Alexa Video Call

I’m also looking into a solution with a button with four large pads that could hold names or pictures for calling different people.

 

from faengelm (member) at December 03, 2021

Hello Mark,

Here is a YouTube video I did a few years ago on "Tap to Alexa".

The layout has changed a bit, but it can give you an idea of its features.

It can perform many useful functions for your loved one in addition to Alexa Calling

 

from Mark Edinburgh ternative (unverified) at December 07, 2021

The buttons look good, but I’m afraid that for my mother-in-law who was a technophobe before the arrival of her Alzheimer’s, the requirement to go back using a menu, or the risk of her clicking ‘add new’ is going to be too risky. The physical buttons might work. The echo button isn’t available so I was looking at the Flic2 as an alternative - what do you think of these, perhaps you have a better alternative I should consider…?
Much appreciated,
Mark

 

from faengelm (member) at December 08, 2021

Hi Mark,

I really like the old Echo Buttons that have been discontinued, as they are large and don’t require a hub. You can still find them on eBay.

If you are willing to add a hub, there are a couple of options:

The Flic 2 buttons are small, but there are holders available on eBay.

The BroadLink Smart Button offers a large pad with four buttons

 

from Rui Belo (unverified) at December 13, 2021

Thank you so very much, Frank. Your article is by far the best and most helpful (most informative) thing I've seen on the web for setting up Alexa Communicate call options. I've only had my two Alexa Show 10s (3rd and 2nd Gen. - couldn't pass-up a great sale on the 2nd Gen.) for a less than a week and really wanted to learn everything I could to prepare to set one Echo Show p for my Mom who is the retirement home, and is in the early stage of dementia.

If I read and recall correct, I think your article mentioned uninstalling the Alexa App and then reinstalling it again as a way to setup a different Amazon account on the smartphone, but unless I'm mistaken (and I could be) I've seen the Sign Out (of Amazon Account) option under general settings that seems a way to deal with setting a different account using the same smartphone (then logging out of the 'other' account and logging back into your own). Haven't actually tried it yet (almost afraid to) but I'm sure I will at some point soon, and in the meantime, thought I'd share this tip with you.

 

from faengelm (member) at December 14, 2021

Hello Rui,

Thank you for the tip on signing out of the app. That is a much better way to gain access to a loved one’s Alexa app. I have tried it and it’s safe to do it. Just be sure you log back in with the same profile and don’t create a new one.

Some readers have even dedicated an old tablet or phone (no cell service required) to their loved one’s account so that they can make easy changes.

The new Alexa Together service is providing a means to change a few of the loved one’s settings through Remote Assist while staying logged into your own Alexa app.

 

from Carey N (unverified) at February 09, 2022

Thank you for the article. Just in the process of getting an Echo Show for my mom (who is resistant to technology but loves her independence). This article showed me I've selected the correct device, shares additional software/tech I need and will be a reference I come back to later. THANK YOU. Amazon should pay you!!!

 

from faengelm (member) at February 11, 2022

Please let me know how it goes and if you have any issues

The TextNow.com number with the $5/year "number lock-in" is a good choice for those without a permanent mobile number

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Last Updated: September 10, 2021.