Amazon says you’ll import your phone number upon setting up the service, however, and that you’ll be able to see which of your Echo-using contacts has the calling feature enabled within the Alexa app.
As far as privacy goes, Amazon says it won’t store or have access to the content of any voice calls made over the service. Similar to other VoIP services, though, it will store your voice messages in the cloud; an Amazon rep says that’s done to help its voice message transcription service and “make the product better.”
The voice calling feature had been rumored for months, but it stands to make the Echo more useful for those who’ve invested in the product. Previous studies have found that most Echo owners mainly use the smart speakers for simpler tasks, as digital assistants like Alexa are still at a nascent stage in their development.
Amazon is far and away the leader in the voice-enabled speaker market, according to a recent eMarketer study. That market is only expected to grow as time rolls on and competition expands.