Calling from HOME
Google is enabling hands-free phone calls using its Home smart speaker.
Amazon's Alexa voice assistant in the Echo speaker and other devices can make calls to other Alexa users. Home goes further in being able to call regular phone numbers. But it can't call other smart speakers, not even other Home devices.
It's free for phone calls to your contacts and businesses in the U.S. and Canada, with the exception of toll calls such as “1-900” numbers to psychic hotlines. For those, and for calls to other countries, you need to sign up and pay through Google Voice or Project Fi.
Google Home can distinguish between different users, so ringing “Dad” will call different people depending on who's speaking. But it's not a failsafe if you've fallen and can't get up. It can't dial 911, because it can't accept return calls required by emergency responders.
The market for voice-assisted speakers is small, but growing. The research firm eMarketer expects usage of such speakers to more than double this year, with nearly 36 million Americans using such a device at least once a month by year's end.