Alexa FAQ Part 7: An Alexa Intercom System with Alexa Drop-In

The Alexa FAQ series continues with information about how to use Alexa as an intercom system with Alexa Drop-In.

Follow the links at the bottom of this post to view all other posts in the series.

 

Generation Gap

Note that the information provided here is accurate as of this writing, on 1/3/18, but is subject to change in the future as the Alexa service and devices evolve.

Also note that this post does not address calling via the Alexa Connect device, which is designed to work with landline phones.

 

What Is Alexa Drop-In?

Alexa Drop-In is a feature of the Alexa Calling & Messaging service that allows you to use one Alexa device to “call” another Alexa device. A smartphone with the Alexa app installed can also use Drop-In from within the Alexa app to contact Alexa devices, but other Alexa devices cannot use Drop-In to reach your phone.

The Alexa devices making and receiving the Drop-In essentially act like speaker phones, but the “calls” go over the internet instead of using your cell phone’s connection or any landline connection. Like all Alexa Calling & Messaging features, there is no fee or subscription service required to use the Drop-In feature.

You can limit Drop-In permissions to devices on your own network, in which case you can only use Drop-In to call one Alexa device on your own network from another device on that same network, mimicking a home intercom system. If you and another Alexa device owner grant one another permission, you can also use Drop-In to call Alexa devices on others’ networks. This is something you’ll probably only want to use with very close family members, or perhaps with elders or disabled family and friends you may need to check in on from time to time.

 

Q. How do I enable Drop-In for my devices?

1. Because the Drop-In feature is part of the Alexa Calling & Messaging service, you must enable that service first.

Click here to read Amazon’s Sign Up For Alexa Calling and Messaging help topic on its US site. Click here for the same topic on the UK Amazon site.

2. Next, if you wish to use Drop-In with Alexa devices outside your own network you must add any people whose devices you might want to Drop In on to your Alexa Contacts, and grant Drop-In permissions for any Alexa contact you want to be able to Drop In on you. Skip this step if you only intend to use Drop-In like a home intercom system.

From Amazon’s relevant help topic:


Before you add someone as a Drop In contact, add them in your Alexa contact list. For more information go to Add and Edit Your Contacts to the Alexa App.

To grant permission to contacts in the home screen of your compatible Alexa app:
a. Select the Conversations icon (Conversations Icon).
b. In the Contacts section, select your name or a contact from the list.
c. Toggle the option next to Drop In.

You can grant permission to contacts on the home screen of your compatible Echo device:
a. Say, “Show my contacts.”
b. Select your name or a contact from the list.
c. Toggle the option next to Drop In.

Important: When you grant permission to drop in, you (and your household members) or your contact (and their household members) can do so at any time.


3. Simplify the names of Alexa devices on your own network to make Drop-In easier.
The command to initiate a Drop-In “call” is, “[wake word], drop in on [Alexa contact name or Alexa device name].” That command will be much more intuitive and easy to remember if you give all the Alexa devices on your network names that make sense to you.

You can change the names of your Alexa devices in the Alexa app, under Settings > [device name]. Once you click through to details on a given device, you can edit its name. You can also change device names in the Your Devices & Digital Content page under your account on the Amazon site.

 

Q. How do I make a Drop-In “call”?

From Amazon’s relevant help topic:


For supported Echo devices:

To drop in on your device, say, “Drop In on [device name].” You can find a list of your device names in the Alexa app.

At any time in the Drop In conversation, you can say, “Hang up,” which ends the conversation.

Note: To use Drop In between devices, you will need to enable Drop In on your own profile. To learn more about granting Drop In permission, go to Manage Your Contacts & Settings.

For the Alexa app:
a. Select the Conversation icon.
b. Select the Drop In bar.
c. Select the name of the device you want to drop in on.

To end the Drop In, touch the screen and select the Hang Up button.

Note: You can use the Alexa app to drop in on other devices, but other devices can’t drop in on the Alexa app.


Click here to read Amazon’s Use Drop In With Your Devices help topic on its US site. Click here for the same topic on the UK Amazon site.

Click here to read Amazon’s Use Drop In With Your Alexa Contacts help topic on its US site. Click here for the same topic on the UK Amazon site.

 

Q. If I change my mind, can I revoke Drop In permissions?

Yes. From Amazon’s relevant help topics:


You can change which devices can receive a Drop In from the Alexa app:
a. Go to the menu and select Settings.
b. Select your device.
c. Under General, select Drop In.
d. Choose from the different permission options for your selected device.

Note: Repeat these steps for all your supported devices.

To revoke permission from contacts for Drop In in the Alexa app:
a. Open the menu and select the Conversations icon (Conversations Icon).
b. In the Contacts section, select a contact from the list.
c. Toggle the option next to Drop In.

You can also revoke permission for Drop In on the home screen of your compatible Echo device [with a screen, e.g., Echo Show, Echo Spot]:
a. Say the wake word followed by, “Show my contacts.”
b. Select a contact from the list.
c. Toggle the option next to Drop In.


 

Enjoy your Alexa devices, and be sure to come back here to follow the rest of this Alexa FAQ series.
I’ll be continuing the series with posts to cover the basics of using Alexa to control video on your TV, a look at the various Alexa devices and gadgets now available as well as the differences among them, the Alexa Flash Briefing, Alexa utilities like reminders, alarms and calendar integration, and a sort of catch-all mailbag FAQ at the end.

Click here to subscribe, so you’ll be notified when each new post is published. You’ll also want to bookmark any posts in the series you might need to refer to frequently in the future, and use the handy social media links at the bottom of this post to share with others who’ve received (or you know will be receiving!) Alexa devices.

Click here to read part one, Alexa Basics For Those Giving or Getting An Alexa Device.

Click here to read part two, Six Things To Try With Alexa.

Click here to read part three, Alexa With WiFi & Bluetooth.

Click here to read part four, Alexa Privacy and Security.

Click here to read part five, Alexa Music Commands and Services.

Click here to read part six, Alexa Calling and Messaging.

Click here to read part eight, Alexa Alarms, Reminders and Timers.

Click here to read part nine, Using Alexa To Control Your TV.

 

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