More reports on: Google, Amazon

Amazon Echo, Google Home could act more like telephones: report

16 February 2017

Smart speakers from Google and Amazon may soon get the functionality of placing and receiving phone calls, reports The Wall Street Journal.

The feature could be added to Amazon Echo and Google Home later this year, the report said.

However, privacy and regulatory concerns are coming in the way of deployment of the feature the report said citing sources privy to the matter.

Amazon had been developing a voice call feature for Echo since 2015, but it had been held up due to "employee turnover."

Privacy concerns, however, remain a formidable hurdle on the way to the companies turning their devices into home phones. According to the Journal, the Echo and Home's always-on microphones continuously recorded audio, locally saving a few seconds at a time, to monitor for activation commands like "Alexa" and "Hey Google."

Arkansas law enforcement had already requested access to this data to help with a murder investigation, which raised serious privacy questions about connected home devices.

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