Amazon Adds Alexa Voice Call And Message Blocking For Echo Speakers

Following the philosophy that some things are better late than never, Amazon has rolled out the ability to block calls and messages to its Alexa-powered Echo devices. For whatever reason, Amazon did not think to include call and message blocking from the start, which is a bit of a privacy concern—without that ability, anyone with your phone number and Alexa mobile app could leave a message that might get played over your Echo speaker.

Amazon Echo

Users kicked up a fuss over the privacy oversight. Amazon heard the complaints and promised an update to address the issue, which is now available, at least for iOS. The free Amazon Alexa mobile app for iOS devices has been updated to version 2.0.2511 and now includes the ability to block contacts from calling and messaging you—just scroll down your contact list and tap the "Block Contacts" button. It also includes bug fixes and performance enhancements.

The same app for Android devices that appears in Google Play has not yet been updated with the same feature upgrades, at least not at the time of this writing. However, Amazon said in a statement that "customers will begin to receive an updated Alexa app" today and over the coming days for both iOS and Android. it appears that iOS users are getting first dibs, with Android users having to wait just a tad longer.

Amazon Echo Show

Being able to block callers coincides with a relatively new feature that allows Echo owners to use their Echo devices to make hands-free VOIP calls (and messaging) to other Echo device owners at no cost. Unfortunately, the ability rolled out without a way to block unwanted callers, a shortcoming that quickly drew criticism among Echo device owners.

The calling feature is only available in the United States at the moment, though it is expected to be made available to Echo owners in the United Kingdom sometime soon. When a user makes a call or sends a message through Echo, it gets delivered to all supported Echo devices, including the mobile app.