Last year, Amazon released the touchscreen-equipped Echo Show, which allowed users to make voice calls through their Echo devices for the very first time. Shortly after that, Amazon rolled out yet another feature, Drop In, which allows users to drop in on their friends’ and family members’ Echo devices at will. This feature is different from your standard voice call because it allows you to connect to a device automatically, assuming you and your contact both allow it.
For users who have multiple Echo devices around their home, this feature can work a lot like an intercom system or baby monitor. While it does bring up some potential privacy concerns, Amazon has done a pretty good job to ensure that you are in as much control as possible when it comes to who it allows to drop in on your life. The feature is not enabled on any contacts by default, however, so you must manually grant users access to your device(s). Here’s how.
Step 1: Download the app
First, ensure that you have the Alexa app downloaded on your Android or iOS device (and that is it is the latest version). Drop In should work with all available Echo devices at this time, although of course, you will need two different Echo devices for Drop In to work: With the app, you can sometimes drop in on other devices, but you can’t receive a drop-in call (you can receive voice calls, though). Once you’ve downloaded and launched the app, you should be prompted to set up Alexa Calling and Messaging. If you aren’t, tap the speech bubble at the bottom of the screen to sign up and fill out your important contact information.
Step 2: Enable Drop In on devices
Typically, Echo devices will have Drop In automatically enabled, but it’s important to check that this is the case on your devices. Head to the icon on the top left of the Alexa app and select it to drop down the Menu. Choose Device Settings from here, and select each of your Echo devices in turn.
In the Echo device settings, look for the section that says Communications, and select it. The Communications section will have a Drop In section. Make sure that Drop In is turned on. You can select it and choose between On, Off, and Only my household.
With Drop In enabled on all your Echo devices, you should be able to initiate household Drop Ins just by saying, “Alexa, drop in on,” and then say the specific name of the Echo device. If this is all you want to do, then you’re good to go! But you can also enable Drop Ins outside your house if you want to.
Step 3: Enable your profile Drop In
To make Drop In calls via the Alexa apps and have others do the same, you also need to enable Drop In on your profile. Fortunately, this is very easy to do. Simply select the Communicate bubble at the bottom of the Alexa app, and then select the Drop In icon at the top. Alexa will pop up with a message on how to enable Drop by going to My Profile. Once there, make the Drop In section is enabled, and if it isn’t, select it to enable it.
Step 4: Enable contact’s Drop In and ask them to do the same
Now it’s time to enable Drop In for other contacts that you may have. Select the Communicate icon again, then choose Contacts in the upper right corner, and choose the Contacts that you want to talk to. You will notice that they will have “Alexa Calling & Messaging” under their name if they have an Echo device or Alexa account, signifying that you can enable Drop In for them. Under Permissions, make sure the Allow Drop In option is chosen for the contacts you want to have drop in on your home device.
However, it’s important to call up your contact and have them do the same for your contact info unless you only want the Drop In option to be a one-way communication tool. Additionally, if you want to set up Drop Ins for your kids or other family members instead of just devices, you can create contacts for them here, and enable those Drop Ins as well so you can call them by name when giving commands.
Step 5: Begin calling
Once you’ve finished setting up the feature, simply say your device’s wake word and “Drop in on [person’s name]” to begin a call. You can also start a call from within the Contacts page.
When someone drops in on you, the light ring on your Echo will pulse green, a tone will sound, and they will be connected automatically, allowing them to hear anything that is within range of your device. If you and your contact are using devices equipped with a screen, the video will appear somewhat distorted for several seconds, giving you the opportunity to make yourself more presentable, if you’re not already. Keep in mind, however, that you can turn off the video at any point during the call by saying “video off,” or by touching the screen and selecting Video Off.
If you do not want to be able to receive Drop In calls — after all, who wants their friends knowing what they are doing every second of the day? — you can also enable the Do Not Disturb mode on your Echo, which will block the Drop In feature until you turn it off.
David Cogen — a regular contributor here at Digital Trends — runs TheUnlockr, a popular tech blog that focuses on tech news, tips and tricks, and the latest tech. You can also find him on Twitter discussing the latest tech trends.