How to video call on a smart display 

Get face to face with ease thanks to your smart display.

Smart displays are essentially smart speakers with integrated screens, allowing for a visual display in addition to voice-based interactions.   

They typically have built-in cameras and microphones, which enables you to command them with your voice. While they have many uses – from accessing news and weather to using your smart display as a digital photo frame – they’re also a great way to make a video call. 

There are various ways to make a video call via your smart display, whether using popular platforms such as Skype or Zoom or dropping in on compatible smart displays.

An Echo Show 10 in the kitchen showing a group call to illustrate how to video call on a smart displayCredit: Amazon
Your smart display makes an easy and cheap way to make a video call with friends and family

As well as being able to quickly call up someone by asking the smart display to call them, you’ll also be able to see the person youre talking to, making the experience more engaging.

What’s more, making a video call is free, as it’s done over the internet, so if you want to cut down your phone bill, using your smart display is a great option

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Project overview

You’ll need to check your smart display has a camera, so the people you’re calling can see you, and that it’s connected to the internet.

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Overview

Unleash the power of video calls

To make a video call on a smart display, you’ll need to ensure that it supports video calling and is connected to the internet. The exact process may vary depending on the brand and model of the smart display, but typically, you can use voice commands or touch-screen controls to initiate a video call.  

It’s worth noting that both you and the recipient should have compatible devices or apps that support video calling for a successful connection. For example, if you’re using an Amazon Echo Show, you can call someone who has a compatible Echo device, or the Alexa app installed on their phone or tablet.  

If you have an Echo Show or a Google Nest, follow our step-by-step guide below. For all other smart displays, refer to the user manual to learn more about the video calling features and setup process. 

How to video call on an Amazon Echo Show

It’s as easy as saying ‘Alexa, video call Sarah’

One of the first things to ask your Echo Show is to video call a loved one. And it really is as simple as that – once you’ve done a couple of things. 

First up, you need to make sure that your phone contacts are synced with the Alexa app. To do this:  

  1. Open the Alexa app on your phone or tablet. 
  2. Choose Communicate. 
  3. Select the contacts icon on the top right-hand corner of the screen. 
  4. Select Add New. 
  5. Enter a name and phone number, and then select Save. 

When you want to video call one of your contacts, simply say: “Alexa, video call [their name]”. Make sure you call them the name you have saved in your contacts. If the name isn’t too different, though, Alexa will double check with you when calling, for example, Russell and Russ. 

You can also make a video call via the app, which is handy if you’re not near your Echo Show. To do this: 

  1. Open the Alexa app on your phone or tablet. 
  2. Tap the Communication tab. 
  3. Find the contact you want to call, tap their name. 
  4. Choose the Video Call button. 
A close up of an Echo Show with the camera cover closed message showing to illustrate how to video call on a smart displayCredit: Shutterstock/Hadrian
If you don’t want your caller to see you, you can choose to close the camera on the Echo Show

Other ways to make a video call on an Echo Show

Asking Alexa is the easiest way but if you want to make a call to someone who doesn’t have the app or isn’t in your contacts, there are ways to do it using third party skills.

You can use both Skype and Zoom to make calls via your Echo Show. You’ll need to be logged into the video calling software of your choice to make this work.  

You can also use the Echo Show’s drop-in feature to video call someone with another Echo Show device. It’s simply a case of saying, “Alexa, drop in on…”, and using the name of the device, not the person you’re calling. This will work automatically if the devices are all signed up to the same Amazon account. If it doesn’t, you may have to go into each device within the app and toggle on Allow Drop In.  

To drop in on a contact with a different Amazon account, both you and your contact must first grant each other Drop In permissions. You can do this via the Contacts section in the Alexa app. 

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Top tips for making calls on Echo Show 

  • Make sure that your Echo Show and the other person’s device are connected to the internet. The quality of your video call will depend on the speed of your internet connection. 
  • If you can’t see the other person, or they can’t see you, make sure you both have the Echo Show’s camera on.  
  • If you’re having trouble making a call, try restarting your Echo Show or the other person’s device. 
  • If you’re in a noisy environment, you may want to use the Echo Show’s microphone muting feature when the other person is speaking. 

Shop Echo Show smart displays

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Echo Show 5 (3rd gen, 2023)

RRP: £89.99

Echo Show 5 (3rd gen, 2023)

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Echo Show 8 (2nd gen, 2021)

RRP: £119.99

Echo Show 8 (2nd gen, 2021)

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Echo Show 10 (3rd gen)

RRP: £259.99

Echo Show 10 (3rd gen)

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Echo Show 15

RRP: £269.99

Echo Show 15

How to video call on a Google Nest Hub

Connect to Google Meet to get video calling

To make a video call, you need to connect your Nest Hub to the Google Meet app (formerly Google Duo). To do this:  

  1. Open the Google Home app. 
  2. Tap on the Settings icon. 
  3. Scroll down to Communication, under Services. 
  4. Tap on Video & Voice Apps. 
  5. Tap on Google Meet and follow the setup steps. 

Once you’ve followed these steps, you can then just say: “Hey Google, video call [their name].”

If you’re using the 2nd generation Nest Hub you’ll be able to see the person you’re calling, but they won’t be able to see you, as there’s no camera on that smart display. To ensure a two-way video call, you’ll have to buy a Nest Hub Max (£219).

You can also use this method to call a group of people. First up, create your group in the Google Meet app. Then when you make the call, say, “Hey Google, start a group call, and tap the correct group on the screen to begin your video call. 

Close up of someone doing a Zoom video call on a Google Nest smart displayCredit: Google
If you have a Zoom account, you can also use this to make video calls on your Google Nest Hub

Other ways to make a video call on a Nest Hub 

As with the Echo Show, you can also use Zoom to do a video call on a Nest Hub. Follow the above steps and tap on Zoom under Video & Voice Apps to set it up on your smart display.  

To make a call you can either say, “Hey Google, start a Zoom call”, or join via your Google Calendar. To do this, make sure you’ve linked the right calendar to your Google smart display. You can do this on the Google Home app. Go to more settings, choose Calendar and click on the one you want to use. 

Once you’ve got the calendar sorted, you can simply say, “Hey Google, join my next meeting”, and this will automatically take you to your Zoom call.  

Top tips for making calls on Nest Hub 

  • If you need to mute your microphone during a video call, you can do so by saying, “Hey Google, mute microphone.” To unmute, say, “Hey Google, unmute microphone.” 
  • During a call, you can easily adjust the call volume by saying, “Hey Google, decrease/increase call volume” to suit your preference. 
  • If you prefer manual control, you can use the touch screen on the Google Nest Hub to initiate calls, end calls, and adjust settings. Simply tap the screen as needed. 

Shop Google Nest Hub smart displays

Featured product

Google Nest Hub Max

RRP: £219

Google Nest Hub Max

Featured product

Google Nest Hub (2nd Gen)

RRP: £89.99

Google Nest Hub (2nd Gen)
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Jayne Cherrington-Cook

Written by Jayne Cherrington-Cook she/her

Published:

Jayne is the Senior Editor at Saga Exceptional. She cut her online journalism teeth 24 years ago in an era when a dialling tone and slow page load were standard. During this time, she’s written about a variety of subjects and is just at home road-testing TVs as she is interviewing TV stars. A diverse career has seen Jayne launch websites for popular magazines, collaborate with top brands, write regularly for major publications including Woman&Home, Yahoo! and The Daily Telegraph, create a podcast, and also write a tech column for Women’s Own.

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