Last year, Amazon released the Echo Show with touchscreen, which allowed users to make voice calls for the first time through their Echo devices. Shortly thereafter, Amazon introduced another feature, Drop In, which allows users to visit the Echo devices of their friends and relatives as they please. This feature differs from your standard voice call because it allows you to automatically connect to a device, assuming that you and your contact both allow it.
For users who have multiple Echo devices in their home, this feature can work a lot like an intercom system or baby monitor. Although it involves a number of potential privacy issues, Amazon has done pretty well to ensure that you have as much control as possible when it comes to who allows you to invade your life. The feature is not enabled for contacts by default, so you must give users manual access to your device (s). This is how.
: Download the app
First, make sure you have downloaded the Alexa app on your Android or iOS device (which is the latest version). Drop-in should work with all available Echo devices right now, although of course you need two different Echo devices for Drop-in to work: the app can sometimes drop by other devices, but you can't drop -in call (however, you can still receive voice calls). After you have downloaded and started the app, you must be asked to set up Alexa Calling and Messaging. If this is not the case, tap the speech bubble at the bottom of the screen to log in and enter your important contact information.
Step 2: Enable Drop-in on devices
Typically, Drop In is automatically enabled with Echo devices, but it is important to check if this is the case is on your devices. Go to the icon at the top left of the Alexa app and select it to open the menu . Select Device Settings here and select each of your Echo devices in succession.
In the Echo device settings, search for the section with the text Communication and select it. The section Communication gets a section Drop In . Make sure that Drop In is enabled. You can select it and choose between On Off and My household only .
With Drop In enabled on all of your Echo devices, you should be able to initiate household Drop Ins by simply saying "Alexa, come in", and then say the specific name of the Echo device. If this is all you want to do, then you are ready to go! But you can also use Drop Ins outside of your home if you want.
Step 3: Enable your profile in Drop
Call drop-in via the Alexa apps and let others do the same, Drop-in in your profile. Fortunately this is very easy to do. Simply select the bubble Communicate at the bottom of the Alexa app and then select the icon Drop In at the top. Alexa appears with a message about enabling Drop by going to My profile . Make there the section Drop In is enabled and if this is not the case, select it to enable it.
Step 4: enable Drop-in of contact and ask them to do the same
Now it's time to enable Drop-in for other contacts that you have . Select the icon Communicate again and then choose Contacts in the top right corner and choose the contacts you want to talk to. You will notice that they have “ Alexa Calling & Messaging ” under their name if they have an Echo device or Alexa account, which means that you can enable Drop In for them. Make sure that under Permissions the option Allow Drop In is selected for the contacts that you want on your home device.
However, it is important to call your contact and have them do the same for your contact information, unless you only want the Drop In option to be a one-way communication tool. If you want to set up Drop Ins for your children or other family members instead of just devices, you can also create contacts here for them and enable Drop Ins so that you can name them when giving assignments.  Step 5: Start calling
Once you have finished setting up the function, simply say the wake-up message from your device and "Drop in on [person’s name]" to make a call. You can also start a call from the page Contacts .
When someone enters you, the light ring on your Echo blinks green, a tone sounds and is automatically connected so that they can hear everything that is within the range of your device. If you and your contact use devices that are equipped with a screen, the video may appear slightly distorted for a few seconds, giving you the opportunity to present yourself better if you are not. However, please note that you can turn off the video at any time during the conversation by saying "video off" or by touching the screen and selecting Video off .
If you don't want to be able to receive Drop In calls – after all, who wants their friends to know what they do every second of the day? – you can also enable the Do Not Disturb mode on your Echo, which blocks the Drop In function until you disable it.
David Cogen – a regular contributor here at Digital Trends – runs TheUnlockr, a popular technology blog that focuses on technical news, tips and tricks and the latest technology. You can also find it on Twitter about the latest technical trends.