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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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Retired Intel Engineer wanting to share DIY technology tips for the children of parents wanting to remain living independently. I like posting ideas and answering technical questions. If a product or software has an issue making it hard for seniors to use, I try to offer workarounds and also try to contact the manufacturer for solutions. I write a column for this website in the Innovation- Homebrew Solutions & Ideas section