February 15, 2017

PLEASE, NO: Amazon, Google Dial Up Plans to Turn Smart Speakers Into Home Phones.

Amazon’s Echo or the Google Home could be used to make or receive calls, people familiar with the matter said, a functionality that would give them further control over consumers’ digital lives at home.

The tech giants could launch the feature this year, the people said—but the effort is hung up over concerns about privacy, telecom regulations and emergency services. And they are aware of the inherent awkwardness of having phone conversations on a speaker.

Amazon and Google are part of a broader race among tech giants to create and install digital assistants in everything from cars to homes. Adding phone capability is a way to tack on more functions, which could lead to greater adoption and more frequent use.

Such a feature would further disrupt traditional telecom firms like AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. The speakers could diminish the dwindling landline business and take attention away from smartphones.

I barely want my phone to act as a phone.

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