If you’ve ever felt the urge to ping an unsuspecting Fire HD tablet owner with a video call, good news: Now you can. Amazon today announced that starting this week Fire HD 8 and Fire HD 10 owners will be able to receive Drop In video calls from Alexa-enabled devices with displays and cameras, like the Echo Show and Echo Spot.
The new features are coming in a software update that’ll begin rolling out today. Previously, only the current-generation Fire HD 8, 2017 Fire HD 8, and Fire HD 10 tablets have been supported.
Drop In, you might recall, gives you a hands-free way to connect to Alexa devices instantly, without having to wait for the person on the other end to answer. It’s an optional feature and has to be enabled from the Settings menu — you’ll find it under Alexa > Hands-Free Mode, where you’ll also be able to specify which contacts and devices can use it.
As part of the above-mentioned update, Fire HD tablets are also gaining Announcements — messages recorded and sent via Echo products and other speakers, displays, and gadgets that tap the Alexa Voice Service, a cloud-based suite of tools that enable developers to add Alexa functionality to their devices. This feature must also be switched on from the settings menu (Communications > Calling and Messaging).
Both Drop In and Announcements are part of Show Mode, a setting that effectively transforms Fire HD tablets into Amazon Echo Show-style devices. Either standing alone or docked in Amazon’s Show Mode Charging Docks, Show Mode offers largely the same menus and features as the Show proper, including visual responses, video flash briefings, smart home controls, photo slideshows sourced from Amazon’s Prime Photos storage service, and access to Alexa’s more than 50,000 third-party voice apps.
Show Mode is activated with a swipe down from the Quick Settings menu and a tap of the corresponding button.
Updated at 2:46 p.m. Pacific: Additionally, Amazon revealed that Announcements are heading to the Fire TV Cube starting today, and that in December, Alexa on Fire TV Cube will support Announcements based on smart home device activity. The latter includes motion detection and doorbell rings, and users will be able to customize responses in the Routines section of the Alexa app.
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