I have been interested in using the Amazon Echo Spot and Show devices to make video calls using voice control for a while. Adding video can make calls much more fun and both of those devices have cameras for that purpose. For someone that does not have an iPad/iPhone and can’t use FaceTime the Echo Show and Spot work well as an another means of video calling.

One thing to note though is that to make video and regular calls with an Echo device you have to register a phone number with an Alexa app that can receive text messages. This is done when setting up the Alexa app (again on a phone/tablet only) and the number is only needed one time (as far as I know) during the setup. The phone number used cannot already be associated with another account so if you are setting it up for someone without a cellphone you cannot use your number which is a stumbling block. I recently discovered that using a “burner” number does work for this. This is a number that can be created using apps such as “2nd Line” and “Burner”. These apps will generate a new phone number for you which can be used for calls and text messaging but I think they have a monthly fee which might be around $5. As a test I tried using a free Google Voice number and it was successful. I was able to have an Echo Spot call an Echo Show using an Amazon account that had the Google Voice number attached to it.

Something this exercise does demonstrate is that not having a smartphone nowadays can be a significant impediment in participating in a variety of activities and in getting the advantages of modern technology in general.