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Smart speakers aren’t just for listening to music and controlling your home tech. Alexa can also be used as an inexpensive intercom system.
In this article, I’ll show you how to use Alexa to listen to other rooms or communicate with your home remotely. I’ll also go over the security concerns and what you can do to protect your privacy with Alexa.
Can I Use Alexa to Listen to Another Room?
Yes, your Echo speakers give you a way to remotely communicate with other rooms. The only requirement is that you have an Echo speaker (or your phone) nearby and another Echo speaker in the room you want to speak to.
Alexa calls this intercom feature drop-in. There’s also a one-way feature called announcement that lets you send a message to all of your Echo speakers.
How to Listen in On Alexa
Dropping in on one Echo speaker from another is incredibly easy. The only thing you need is the name of your Alexa speaker, which you can get from the device page in the Alexa app or by asking, “Alexa, what is your device name?”
Once you have the name of the Alexa device that you want to speak to, just say, “Alexa, drop in on [device name].” So to talk to your kitchen speaker, you might say, “Alexa, drop in on kitchen.”
The speaker you drop in on will play a chime, and their Echo will flash green. This alerts the recipients that you are speaking to them.
There’s no way to disable that alert, but you don’t want to as it’s an important security feature. You wouldn’t want people dropping in unannounced!
Can I Listen in On Alexa from My Phone?
If you aren’t near one of your Echo devices, you can drop in from your phone, too. You just need to have the Alexa app installed and tied to your Amazon account.
Go to Devices -> ‘Echo & Alexa’ and select the speaker you want to drop in on. Then, just press the Drop In button to initiate the call.
Can I Use Alexa to Listen to My House Remotely?
Yes, there are two ways to drop in on your Alexa speakers while away from home.
First, you can just use your phone. As long as you have the Alexa app installed and logged in to your Amazon account, you don’t need to be on your home network for it to work. You can drop in from anyplace to any of your Echo speakers that allow drop-ins.
Second, you can give another person’s Echo permission to drop in on your home. That way, you can extend your home intercom system to other homes.
Just make sure you only give this permission to people that you trust. People can already call you on your Alexa, so the drop-in feature should be reserved for special use cases like close relatives.
It’s also a great way to use Alexa in an emergency. If your elderly relative gives you permission to drop in on their Alexa, you can check on them remotely even if they aren’t able to speak to their Echo device.
How to Turn Off Drop In on Alexa
If you’re worried about privacy, you can disable the drop-in feature on one or all of your Echo speakers.
I highly recommend doing this if you won’t be able to hear the drop-in chime or are doing anything that deserves complete privacy, even from your own household.
- Open the Alexa app to Devices -> ‘Echo & Alexa’.
- Select your Echo speaker.
- Click the gear icon in the upper right to open the settings menu.
- Select Communications under the General section.
- You can disable all communications by clicking the Communications toggle. Alternatively, click Drop In and select Off to just turn off this one communication feature.
In the drop-in menu, you’ll notice that there’s also an option to limit drop-in to your own household. This feature can be handy when you need to maximize privacy without completely losing your intercom system.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you drop in on Alexa without them knowing?
You have to give someone permission to drop in on your device, so you are always safe from people trying to spy on you with Alexa.
Even if you give someone permission, you want to know when they are dropping in. That’s why your Echo will alert you with a ringing sound and a flashing green light when someone with permission is dropping in on you.
There is no way to silently listen in on someone with an Alexa. And that’s a good thing.
Does Alexa spy on you?
We’ve all become wary of companies spying on us. With Alexa, you’re putting a microphone in your home, so of course, we’re worried that Amazon could use it to record us.
Fortunately, Alexa only records after it hears its wake word. You can go into the Alexa app and view the voice history to see everything they’ve heard recently.
Let me say one other thing to put this in perspective: In many ways, your phone is probably a bigger security concern than your smart speaker. After all, it is the microphone you are carrying around all day, every day.
Combine drop-in with a few cheap Alexa speakers, and you have a pretty awesome home intercom system. You can also connect your Blink cameras to Alexa and use them alongside drop-in to see and hear (and speak to) what’s going on in your home.
The only limitation of these setups is that they don’t work when your Alexa is offline or experiencing other technical issues. Since your Echo has to be plugged in and Alexa needs to be on Wi-Fi to communicate with its servers, you’ll lose your Alexa intercom when the internet goes down or when the power goes out. Unfortunately, there’s not a good solution for that just yet.
Zak has spent 12 hears in the tech industry focusing on automation, analytics, and cybersecurity. His passion is tech education; he uses his industry expertise and STEM PhD to break down complicated concepts into simple step-by-step guides. When he’s not writing or coding, you can find him binging anything Star Trek or Marvel or reading far too many sci-fi novels.