Google Home and Amazon Echo's next trick could be phone calls

One day, you may be able to chat with someone far away using just the smart speaker in your living room or kitchen. Specifically, you may be communicating through Google Home or Amazon Echo, if a new report is to be believed.

Word from Wall Street Journal sources is that Google and Amazon are working to add phone calling and receiving functionality to their devices, and it could arrive sometime this year.

This would effectively turn the smart speakers into landlines, letting users hold voice conversations without picking up a handset - great if you're cooking, busy around the house or using your smart speaker anyway and need to make a call. It would also add value to the Google Home and Amazon Echo, giving them one more function, and therefore one more reason for people to buy.

While the ability to make voice calls could arrive for one or both devices before long, there are a few kinks to work out. Amazon, for one, doesn't have an existing phone offering. Its rival, meanwhile, has the Google Voice service as well as Project Fi phone network, both of which could give it a leg up in developing smart speaker calls.

Privacy is another worry as any Home or Echo conversations you have would be audible to anyone within earshot.

Amazon is said to be looking into different ways to go about adding voice calling, such as letting users keep the phone number they already have, giving the Echo its own digits or by utilizing call forwarding. 

Time will tell whether voice calls are added to the market's top smart speakers, but it's certainly an intriguing idea that won't likely fade away soon.

Via The Verge