Echo Show FAQ and Alexa Intercom FAQ

Publication Date: 6/27/17 – Echo Show starts shipping this week, and Amazon’s also been rolling out intercom functionality to Alexa devices via over-the-air updates. The time has come to post an Echo Show FAQ and Alexa Intercom FAQ.

The Echo Show and intercom update are not yet available outside the U.S., but don’t worry. By the time they get to Europe they’re sure to be improved based on what Amazon learns from us Americans.


Batslap Read The FAQ


People have a lot of questions about the Show and Alexa intercom features, so this is going to be a long post. However, to keep it manageable, I’m going to answer each question as briefly as I can and then provide a link to the relevant Amazon help page.

Also note that the information here is accurate as of this writing, but it’s a safe bet Amazon will be tinkering with the software to work out any kinks and make improvements as needed, so the answers to the questions here are subject to change in the future.


Echo Show FAQ

1. Is the Echo Show always on, like the Echo?
By default, the Echo Show is always on and the Alexa software it runs is always listening for the wake word, just like an Echo or Dot. However, the microphone and camera can be toggled off using a button on top of the Show.

The Echo Show’s display screen is always on. By default, when the screen is not in use it presents a customizable collection of Home Cards that show things like weather, trending topics, active timers, etc. The screen is dimmable via a spoken, “Alexa, turn off the screen,” command, which sets the screen to black with a clock display. The screen is still backlit however, so it will still emit a faint glow.


2. Can I use a photo slideshow as my home screen?
Yes, provided the images you want to use are stored in Prime Photos. See the “set an album as a background” topic on this help page. You can also find details for how to set a single photo as your Home screen background on that page.


3. Can I use the Show’s camera to take pictures?
Yes. The Show comes with a Photo Booth app built in. Your photos will be saved to Prime Photos by default, and from there you can download or share them as you wish. Click here to see the voice commands you can use with Photo Booth.


4. Can I watch videos on the Show?
Yes. As of this writing only Amazon Video (Prime videos or your Amazon Video library), Amazon Channels and YouTube are supported, but support for Netflix and other providers may come later. This feature makes the Show kind of like a hybrid television set / Echo. Voice commands are available for video search and playback on the Show.


5. Are there parental controls on the Show?


6. Can I pair the Alexa Voice remote with the Show?


7. Can the Show connect to external Bluetooth devices, like speakers and headsets?
Yes, both incoming and outgoing Bluetooth are supported.


8. Does the Show have a headphone or audio in jack?
No to both.


9. Is the Show portable?
No. Like the Echo, it’s designed to be put in your preferred location, plugged in, and left there.


10. If I want to use the video calling features of Show, does the person I want to call have to have a Show too?
No. Anyone who has the Alexa mobile app installed can also communicate with the Show using video and voice, or just voice. The Alexa mobile app is free and publicly available to anyone who wants it, it’s no longer limited to use by Alexa device owners only.


11. What’s the Drop In feature?
Drop In is an instant-connect call feature you can toggle on or off for each of your Alexa calling-capable devices and for individuals in your Alexa contacts list. I think Amazon explains the overall functionality best:

When you drop in on your device or a contact’s device, you connect automatically and can hear anything within range of the device. If you and your contact are using devices with screens, your contact also sees a frosted glass video that transitions to clear video shortly after connecting. {Note from Love My Echo – this slight delay is presumably there to give you time to turn off the camera or reject the call entirely if you want to.}

You can turn off the video at any point during the Drop In by saying, “Video off” or by touching the screen and selecting the Video Off button.

You can enable Do Not Disturb to block Drop In on specific devices temporarily.

Also note that you can set pre-scheduled Do Not Disturb periods for Alexa calling features to temporarily disable them, and these are also available for the Show. For example, you can set inactivity to start at 11pm and stay on until 8am.

Drop In figures into Alexa intercom functionality as well, so be sure to see that topic later on in this post. Click here to learn more about Drop In.


12. Is it true that anyone in the contacts list of the cell phone where I’ve installed the Alexa app can contact me through Alexa calling and messaging, if they also have the Alexa app or a calling/messaging -capable Alexa device?
Yes, though Amazon has implemented the ability to block individual contacts if you like.

Click here to read more about Alexa calling and messaging functionality.


13. Does the Show offer any accessibility features for the vision or hearing impaired?
Yes. Per Amazon:

With accessibility features, you can enable closed captioning, magnify the screen, toggle color inversion, and choose between color correction options on Echo Show. You can also enable the VoiceView screen reader to use gestures to navigate the screen and hear spoken feedback about the items you tap.

Click here for more details on enabling and using accessibility features.


14. Does the Show support all the other Alexa functionality and services that the Echo does?
Yes. There are some hardware differences, obviously. But in terms of software / Alexa functionality, whatever the Echo can do the Show can also do.


15. Is touchscreen shopping on the Amazon site enabled on the Show?
Of course.


16. Is it true that the motion sensor on the Show is always on, so the Show always “knows” when someone is in the room with it?
While Amazon is not explicitly saying this, they do say that one way the Show determines whether or not you’re available to accept a Drop In call is via motion detected by the Show’s motion detector, which appears to be built into the camera. Based on this, it would seem that turning off Drop In (either toggling it off completely for the device or turning it off temporarily via Do Not Disturb), or turning off the Show’s camera (via the top button) would also turn off the motion sensor.


Click here for the Echo Show main help page.


Alexa Intercom FAQ

1. Is it true I can now use multiple Alexa devices in my home like an intercom system?
Yes. With Alexa to Alexa calling and Drop In, you have two ways to use one Alexa device to “call” another on the same network. First, you must enable Drop In permissions. Once that’s done, go into the Alexa app and give each of your Alexa devices a simple, easy to remember name.

To make a Drop In (instant connect) call to the other device, say, “{wake word}, drop in on {name of other device}.” The light ring and tone will indicate when the connection is made, and you can immediately start talking to the person in the same area as the other Alexa device.

To make a regular call to the other device say, “{wake word}, call {name of other device}.” The other person will see a light ring and hear a call tone, and must say, “{wake word}, answer,” to pick up the call. When they do, your device will connect and you can start speaking. In my tests, the call keeps “ringing” indefinitely, so if the other person doesn’t answer eventually you have to say, “{wake word}, stop,” to end the call attempt.

For either type of call, either party can use the, “{wake word}, hang up,” command to end the call.


2. What if I only want to enable Drop In for intercom use, not for letting other people outside my household “drop in” on my Alexa devices?
There’s a special “only my household” Drop In permissions option for this.


3. Can I use Do Not Disturb to temporarily disable intercom functionality?
Yes. You can use voice commands or the Alexa app to toggle Do Not Disturb off or on at any time, or set scheduled Do Not Disturb times.


I hope I’ve answered all your most burning Echo Show and Alexa Intercom questions. If you know someone who’s considering an Echo Show purchase, be sure to share this post with them so they can get their questions answered too.