PROGRESS? The Echo Show’s killer feature is next-level FaceTime.

Along with the Echo Show, Amazon is launching a new communications platform for Alexa devices, which allows for calling and messaging between Echo units and smartphones that have the Alexa app installed. A feature called Drop In lets the devices connect instantly, without requiring someone to “answer” the call. This allows the Echo Show to be an always-ready, internet-connected video intercom that I can call from anywhere in the world using my smartphone.

As a parent of two young children who takes a number of work trips per year, I make a lot of video calls back home to say good morning or wish them good night. Services such as Skype and FaceTime have completely changed how I can keep in touch with my family when I’m away, as a video call is always more intimate than text messages or a voice call, especially for young children.

But FaceTime and similar services have their own limitations: they need a smartphone, tablet, or computer open and available and for the other party to answer the call. A video intercom that’s always on and ready for a call has no such limitations.

Is not having someone’s uninvited face suddenly appear in your kitchen or den really such a limitation?