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Amazon and Google want to turn their smart speakers into phones

According to what the Wall Street Journal reports, both Amazon and Alphabet (Google) are evaluating new possibilities of use for their smart speakers: transforming them into real phones. Devices such as Amazon Echo and Google Home could be used to receive and make calls and the two companies plan to integrate these functions later this year.

Products such as Amazon Echo that allow you to control and interact connected devices and in general with technology inside the home environment and equipped with the Alexa assistant, are now part of the daily life of many people. The implementation of telephone functions would be a plus appreciated by many.

The two companies are reportedly working to overcome privacy issues, telecommunications regulations, implement emergency services and minimize the "clumsiness" of conversing on the phone through a speaker. Among the problems to overcome, Google and Amazon also know that some people are hesitant to speak to a speaker, seen as an exploitable element to record conversations. Recall that by their very nature, both the Echo and Google's Home device continuously record audio, in support of artificial intelligence functions.

According to sources interviewed by the U.S. newspaper, Amazon plans to collect only metadata from phone calls and not the entire conversation; instead it is not clear what Google intends to do but it could behave in the same way as it does with Google Voice which stores, processes and conserves the call history but not the conversations.

Among the functions on which both Amazon and Google are working, call forwarding features (useful, for example, to receive calls on the speaker when you are at home or, vice versa, divert calls from the speaker to the phone), synchronization functions with the phone book, the ability to take advantage of third-party services such as Skype.

Apple is also rumored to be working on a "smart" device of this type, a speaker with features similar to those of Amazon and Google that thanks to Siri could be used as a "hub" for home management and interact with Mac and iPhone for play music, movies, etc. Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing, speaking of this type of product, said: "People forget the value and importance of displays. Some of the biggest iPhone innovations in the past decade have to do with the display. The screens are not disappearing. We love taking pictures and we need to look at something; a device with only the voice does not allow to show images ". Reading between the lines in the executive's statements, a different vision of Apple seems to emerge on this type of devices compared to that of Amazon and Google.

Amazon Echo