Solution: How to Use Alexa for Group Calls

By: Frank Engelman.  Updated: December 23, 2020.

 

The Problem: Need Help Making Alexa Useful

I am setting up Alexa for my parent who lives at a distance. I am unsure what features to include, or how to set it up so it is as useful as possible..... More about the Problem


 

Solution: How to Use Alexa for Group Calls

Using Alexa for calls with your mother or father, and wish you could have a group call rather than just a one-on one? Well, you are in luck!

On December 18, 2020, Amazon released an Alexa Group calling feature that allows up to seven (7) callers to be on the same Alexa call. It works in Austria, Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain, the US, and the UK.

If your family members are already using Alexa Calling, you are off to a great start. If not, they will need to install Alexa Calling per our "How to" article.

 

Alexa Group Calls

 

If this sounds too good to be true, there are some restrictions.

First, Alexa Group calling works only on Echo devices.

Of course, Echo devices with no screen, such as an Echo Dot, can only do audio calls. In my testing, an Echo device with a screen, i.e., Echo Spot, Echo Show 5, Echo Show 8, Echo Show Gen 1 & Echo Show Gen 2, all work great doing Alexa video calls.

If you are familiar with making Alexa video calls to your mother from your phone via the Alexa app, you are out of luck, sorry its currently Echo Devices only. Amazon has stated they will add the Alexa app on mobile devices later

Second, whoever starts the group call, needs to create a "Calling Group." This involves creating a group in the Alexa app on your mobile device. Each member of the group wanting to start a group call can use the existing  group name. Just be sure to check to see that you have all the members of the group in your Alexa Contacts. You can easily add them. Not to worry, I'll show the steps below.

Third, there is one little question that your mother will get asked one time when the first group call is made. You will need to explain that when she receives the first group call.

 

The Instructions

Ok, so let's get started.

Assuming that you have Alexa calling set up for yourself, Mom, and your family members, follow these steps on your Alexa app using your mobile device to create the "calling group."

  • Tap Communicate on the bottom line
  • Tap person outline in upper right
  • Tap Add New
  • Tap Add Group
  • Tap the members of the group

If you don't see all the members you want, use the "<" to backup and add contacts

  • Tap Continue
  • I suggest you name the group "My Family" (be sure to give it a unique name that can’t be confused with a contact’s name)

Then you invoke it by saying "Alexa, call My Family"

  • Tap Create Group
  • Use the "<" several times to exit

 

Now, you may be tempted to try "Alexa, call My Family" from your mobile device because you have used Alexa Calling before, but it won't work. You can only call the group from an Echo device.

Now, remember that when you place a group call to your Mom for the first or anyone else in the group, they may have to agree to it on their Echo device.

group calls

A couple of usage tips:

  • When the call is over, EVERYONE needs to hang up separately. This is unlike the usual 1:1 video call where either you or your Mom can hang up. The good news is that your Mom won’t have to hang up if everyone else does.
     
  • Whoever wants to start the group call, needs to be sure they have all the group members in their Alexa Contacts.

 

More Like This

This is part of a series of "Problems" and DIY Technology "Solutions" to the challenges faced by older adults, by Frank Engelman. 

 


 

Discuss this solution

 

from HughD (member) at December 29, 2020

Frank, this is timely and useful information.  Thank you for the article.

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Target customers & users: 
Family of the aging
How important is it?: 
Moderate problem
Key words: