There’s no question that smart assistants like the Amazon Echo and Echo Dot (and more recently, Google Home) have become indispensable tools for millions of homeowners over the past few years. The devices can be easily integrated into existing smart home control systems and can be expanded with new “skills” that add functionality.
According to a new report, both Amazon and Google are looking to add the ability to place phone calls from their respective devices. The Wall Street Journal says that such functionality could arrive as soon as this year, but many roadblocks stand in the way of making such a move feasible.
The first big drawback is that all calls would have to take place over the units’ built-in speaker or connected Bluetooth audio device. That of course brings up privacy concerns with calls. There’s also the annoyance of yelling at a speaker that might be halfway across the room. There are regulatory hurdles to clear, as well as the need to implement mandatory 911 emergency services.
The report suggests that Amazon is considering allowing Echo users to sync their existing phone number, incorporate call forwarding, or allow an Echo to have its own phone number. Google, however, would have an advantage in incorporating such functionality given its already well-honed products like the Google Voice and Hangouts. Google also has expertise in this field from its Project Fi calling service.
What say you, HotHardware readers? Does the idea of adding calling functionality sound like a feature that you would welcome on a device like the Amazon Echo or Google Home? If not, what functionality would you prefer to see come in its place?