Make tablet a phone

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Tired of burning mobile minutes or paying for long distance phone calls? If you’re on a limited plan or just want to save money, the steep per-minute charge for long distance and international calls can be intimidating. Fortunately, you don’t even need a phone to make a call.

If you have a portable device like a tablet, you can use your internet connection to make a call. Tablets use a technology called Voice Over IP to send voice and video calls to regular phones. This is the same kind of technology that lets computers talk to each other, only it can be used to talk to grandma without burning those precious minutes.

An iPad or Android tablet can make calls that sound just as good as a dedicated phone. Read on to find out how to make those calls for free.

Basic requirements for internet calls

To begin with, you’ll want a tablet running iOS, Android or the Amazon Fire operating system. Start by installing any updates or upgrades your tablet has available. This can solve any potential problems with compatibility and many apps require the latest version of the operating system to work.

You’ll also want to locate the microphone and speaker on your device. Most tablets have them built in and, if not, they may support Bluetooth speakers or headset devices. This can also come in handy if you’re looking for a little privacy.

If your tablet can use cellular data, go ahead and switch that off. You’ll want to make sure you’re using Wi-Fi and have a good, strong signal before making the call. The quality of any calls using the internet depends on your internet connection, so make sure you’re on a high-speed connection and not running a bunch of downloads or streaming videos.

Finding the right free calling app

Many apps can do free phone calls, but there’s a couple things to look for when you type “free calls” into the app store. Take a look at the number of downloads, the user rating, and the user reviews. A popular, well-reviewed app is going to be your best bet for quality, performance, and avoiding any tricks or malware.

Popular apps include Apple’s FaceTime, Google Voice (on Android devices), WhatsApp, Viber, and Bobsled. Sometimes instant messaging apps like Facebook Messenger can also make free phone calls.

Watch out for the catch

Before starting that download, check the app reviews from users as well as the description from the developer and find out what restrictions exist. Some apps will only allow free calls to other users on the same app, which means you’ll have to talk to anyone you want to call and get them to download it. Some apps have ads built in that show up when you’re using the app. Others are free for basic phone calls but require paid upgrades for long distance or international calls.

Learn how to stop those persistent robo-calls on your smartphone.

Using apps means no 911

If you’re thinking of making this your only phone number, be aware that calling apps can’t connect to the 911 emergency network. That means if you have to call 911 while using them, the police won’t be able to automatically track your location the way they can with landlines and mobile phones.

Look at the upgrades

Most free calling apps offer upgrades if you need features that we think of as “phone” services. This can include voicemail, texting, and even custom phone numbers. Some will even let you pick the area code they use, which is great if you need a local number but don’t live in a particular area. As always, check the requirements of the app you’re using and don’t be afraid to shop around for something that fits your needs.

Have a question about free phone calls from your tablet? Don’t be afraid to ask Kim!

There can be a number of voice calling issues in Android. If your Galaxy Tab A can’t make calls or has calling error, there’s a number of factors that you must check in order to fix the problem. Find out how to troubleshoot this particular network issue below.

How to fix Galaxy Tab A can’t make calls | unable to call or calling error

If your Galaxy Tab A can’t make calls and you have no idea how to fix it, follow this troubleshooting guide.

Galaxy Tab A can’t make calls fix #1: Check network signal

Voice calling may not work if your device has poor or weak signal. If you are in a building, try moving out or relocate to an open area before making a call again. Or, if you’re on the move, try stopping for a few minutes to check how strong the signal is and make your call. If the signal is okay (at least 3 bars) but you can’t still make calls on your Galaxy Tab A, proceed to the next troubleshooting steps below.

Galaxy Tab A can’t make calls fix #2: Check if texting works

If texting is also not working at this time, that can be a sign of a possible network issue. Again, check for the signal first and then try sending or receiving text messages. If the problem remains, you must skip all the rest of the troubleshooting and instead talk directly to your network operator. There’s high likelihood of an on-going network problem and the fix may not be available on your level.

Galaxy Tab A can’t make calls fix #3: Verify YOU are not blocked

If you’re having trouble making a call to a particular number only, it’s possible that you may be blocked on the other end. If possible, try to let the person you’re trying to contact that you can’t seem to make a call so he or she can verify that you are not put in a blocked list. You want to be creative in this by using other forms of communication to let that person know. If you are connected in social media, try to get hold of him or her through that to resolve the issue.

Galaxy Tab A can’t make calls fix #4: Troubleshoot Phone app

If you are not blocked at all, or if you can’t make calls to anyone in your contacts list, it’s time that you focus your troubleshooting on the Phone app. These are the things that you want to do:

  • Force quit app
  • Clear app cache
  • Reset app (clear data)

Force quit Phone app. This is a generic troubleshooting step for any app issue. Here’s how it’s done:

Method 1: Close an app using Recent Apps key

  1. On your screen, tap the Recent Apps soft key (the one with three vertical lines on the left of the Home button).
  2. Once the Recent Apps screen is shown, swipe left or right to look for the app. It should be here if you managed to run it previously.
  3. Then, swipe up on the app to close it. This should force close it. If it’s not there, simply tap the Close All app to also restart all apps.

Method 2: Close an app using App Info menu

Another way to force close an app is by going within the app’s settings itself. It’s a longer way compared to the first method above but it’s equally effective. You want to use this method if you plan on doing other troubleshooting for the said app like clearing its cache or data. Here’s how it’s done:

  1. Open Settings app.
  2. Tap Apps.
  3. Tap the More settings icon (three-dot icon, upper right).
  4. Tap Show system apps.
  5. Find and tap the app.
  6. Tap Force Stop.

Clear Phone app cache. If restarting the app won’t help at all, your next move is to delete the Phone app cache. This usually works if there’s performance or freezing problem with an app. Try clearing the app cache first and see if that will work. Here’s how it’s done:

  1. Go to the Home screen.
  2. Tap Apps icon.
  3. Open Settings app.
  4. Tap Apps.
  5. If you’re looking for a system or default app, tap on More settings at the upper right (three-dot icon).
  6. Select Show system apps.
  7. Find and tap the appropriate app.
  8. Tap Storage.
  9. Tap Clear Cache button.
  10. Check for the problem.

Reset Phone app (clear app data). Consider doing this troubleshooting step if nothing changes after clearing the app. This will return the app to its defaults. This is usually effective in fixing app bugs due to updates. Here’s how it’s done:

  1. Go to the Home screen.
  2. Tap Apps icon.
  3. Open Settings app.
  4. Tap Apps.
  5. If you’re looking for a system or default app, tap on More settings at the upper right (three-dot icon).
  6. Select Show system apps.
  7. Find and tap the appropriate app.
  8. Tap Storage.
  9. Tap Clear Data button.

Galaxy Tab A can’t make calls fix #5: Restart device

Rebooting your Galaxy Note10+ should be performed if it’s still unable to make calls. This is a troubleshooting step that can fix all sorts of issues so be sure to do it at this point. There are three ways to restart your Galaxy Note10+. Let’s see each of them below.

Method 1: Try restarting it normally first by pressing the Power button to access the boot menu. Then, select Restart option and see if that works.

Method 2: Another way to restart the device is by pressing and holding the Volume Down button and the Bixby/Power key at the same time for 10 seconds or until the device’s screen turns on. This simulates the effect of having disconnected the battery from the device. If this works, this may unlock the device.

Method 3: If doing the regular restart won’t help, then try this:

  1. Press and hold the Volume Down button first and don’t release it.
  2. While holding it down, press and hold the Power key.
  3. Keep both keys held down for 10 seconds or more.

The second restart procedure tries to simulate the effects of removing the battery pack. On older devices, disconnecting the battery is often an effective way in fixing unresponsive devices. If nothing changed though, proceed to the next suggestions.

Rebooting your device regularly at least once every week can be beneficial. If you tend to forget things, we suggest that you configure your phone to reboot on its own. You can schedule it to do this task by doing these steps:

  1. Open Settings app.
  2. Tap Device Care.
  3. Tap the 3-dot at the top.
  4. Select Auto restart.

Galaxy Tab A can’t make calls fix #6: Reset network settings

Clearing your tablet’s network configuration should be tried if the problem remains. Resetting network configuration can sometimes help in fixing network-related issues including app problems like the one you have. Here’s how:

  1. Open Settings app.
  2. Tap General management.
  3. Tap Reset.
  4. Tap Reset network settings.
  5. Tap Reset settings to confirm.

Galaxy Tab A can’t make calls fix #7: Toggle Airplane on and off

Airplane Mode can also block incoming and outgoing calls as well as other network functions. If calling service has mysteriously stopped working after going on a trip, it’s possible that you have simply forgotten to turn off Airplane Mode. Simply pull the Notification Bar down and turn off Airplane Mode to check.

Galaxy Tab A can’t make calls fix #8: Check for call barring

Call barring is a feature in most phones but may or may not be enabled by your carrier. Make sure that the person that’s trying to call you is not included in your call barring list.

Galaxy Tab A can’t make calls fix #9: Troubleshoot SIM card

Some forms of calling issues are caused by a bad SIM card. Try to troubleshoot the SIM card to see if it’s the cause of the problem. Also, when a SIM card is loose in the tray, or when its contacts is not properly connected inside, network issues may occur. Try to take the SIM card out, then put it back in to see if it will fix the problem.

Follow these steps to disconnect your SIM card from your device.

  1. Turn off your Galaxy Tab A. This is important. Inserting a SIM while the device is on may result to corrupted data.
  2. With your phone’s screen facing you, remove the card tray. You can use the insertion/removal tool (or a paperclip) to unlock the tray by inserting it into the provided slot. This small hole should be visible on the side of your device.
  3. Remove the SIM card from the tray. You can lift the card up from the bottom. To assist, use the opening on the opposite side of the tray to dislodge (using a fingernail or similar tool).
  4. Reinsert the card tray.
  5. Press in on the tray to lock it into place.
  6. That’s it!

Putting the SIM card back in is simply the reverse of the steps above. Be sure that the phone is still off when you insert the card.

Galaxy Tab A can’t make calls fix #10: Manually disconnect from network

If your Galaxy Tab A can’t still make calls, make sure that you try the next troubleshooting step which is to force the device from connecting to your home network. This is done by attempting to connect to another network, which you expect to fail. This can have the effect of refreshing the connection to your own network. This can sometimes work if there’s a bug that prevents the current configuration from working. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Open Settings app.
  2. Tap Connections.
  3. Tap Mobile networks.
  4. Tap Network operators.
  5. Tap Select manually.
  6. Wait for your device to search for networks.
  7. Once it’s done searching,, select another network to connect to. For example, if you’re on T-Mobile, pick AT&T or any other network.
  8. Your phone will be forced to return with an error because it won’t be able to register successfully.
  9. Afterwards, select your own network again and see if your device will now be able to re-register and fix the bug.

Galaxy Tab A can’t make calls fix #11: Try calling on Safe Mode

Another possible reason why your tablet may be unable to make voice calls is a bad third party app. To check, restart the device to safe mode. All third apps, that is, apps that you added on top of the original ones that came with the software, won’t be allowed to run on safe mode. They will all be greyed out so you won’t be able to launch them. So, if your Galaxy Tab A will have a steady signal and the situation improves, that can mean that one of the apps is to blame.

To restart your Samsung Galaxy Tab A to safe mode:

  1. With your device turned on, press and hold the Power button until the Power off menu appears then release.
  2. Touch and hold Power off until the Safe mode prompt appears then release.
  3. To confirm, tap Safe mode.
  4. The process may take up to 30 seconds to complete.
  5. Upon reboot, “Safe mode” should appear in the lower-left of the home screen.
  6. Check for the problem.

Safe Mode may be a useful trick in checking for a problem but it won’t pinpoint the exact app. In order to identify which of your apps may be behind the problem, you’ll have to do a process of elimination. Here’s what you need to do exactly:

  1. Boot Galaxy Tab A to safe mode.
  2. Check for the problem.
  3. If the issue returns or once you’ve confirmed that a third party app is to blame, you can start uninstalling apps one by one. You’ll need to do spend some time doing this if you have plenty of apps installed. We suggest that you begin with the most recent ones you added.
  4. It’s important that you only uninstall a single app at a time. After removing an app, restart the phone to normal mode and check for the problem again.
  5. If your Galaxy Tab A is still problematic, repeat steps 1-4 until the rogue app has been identified.

Keep in mind that there’s no shortcut to knowing which app is bad or buggy. Just be patient and keep repeating the cycle above if the problem returns after removing one app. Once the issue stops, the most recent app you deleted must be the culprit. Be sure not to re-install the bad app. You can add the rest of the apps you deleted previously afterwards.

Galaxy Tab A can’t make calls fix #12: Clear cache partition

An Android tablet may not work as expected if its system cache is corrupted or outdated. To see if you have a system cache problem, try to clear the cache partition. Here’s how:

  1. Turn off the device. This is important. If you can’t turn it off, you’ll never be able to boot to Recovery Mode. If you are not able to shut the device off regularly via the Power button, wait until the phone’s battery is drained. Then, charge the phone for 30 minutes before booting to Recovery Mode.
  2. Press and hold the Volume Up button and the Power button at the same time for 5 seconds.
  3. Release the Power and Volume Up buttons.
  4. The Recovery screen menu will now appear.
  5. Use the Volume Down button until you are highlighting ‘Wipe cache partition.’
  6. Press the Power button to select ‘Wipe cache partition.’
  7. Use Volume Down to highlight Yes.
  8. Press the Power button to go ahead with clearing of cache partition.
  9. After clearing the cache partition, press the Power button again for Reboot system now.
  10. That’s it!

Galaxy Tab A can’t make calls fix #13: Erase device

In most cases, calling issues are fixed without doing a factory reset but if your issue returns and reaches this point, you should not hesitate to wipe your tablet’s software. Before you factory reset, make sure to create a backup of your personal data to avoid losing them.

Below are the two ways to factory reset your Galaxy Tab A:

Below are the two methods on how to hard reset or factory reset your Galaxy Tab A.

Method 1: How to hard reset on Samsung Galaxy Tab A via Settings Menu

Under normal circumstances, factory reset under Settings menu should be the primary way for you. It’s simpler to do and does not require pressing hardware buttons, which some users may find difficult to do.

  1. Create a backup of your personal data and remove your Google account.
  2. Open Settings app.
  3. Scroll to and tap General management.
  4. Tap Reset.
  5. Select Factory data reset from the given options.
  6. Read the information then tap Reset to continue.
  7. Tap Delete All to confirm action.

Method 2: How to hard reset on Samsung Galaxy Tab A using hardware buttons

If your case is that the tablet is not booting up, or it boots but Settings menu is inaccessible, this method can be helpful. First, you need to boot the device to Recovery Mode. Once you successfully access Recovery, that’s the time that you begin proper master reset procedure. It may take some tries for you before you can access Recovery so be patient and simply try again.

  1. If possible, create a backup of your personal data ahead of time. If your problem prevents you from doing that, then simply skip this step.
  2. Also, you want to make sure that you remove your Google account. If your problem prevents you from doing that, then simply skip this step.
  3. Turn off the device. This is important. If you can’t turn it off, you’ll never be able to boot to Recovery Mode. If you are not able to shut the device off regularly via the Power button, wait until the phone’s battery is drained. Then, charge the phone for 30 minutes before booting to Recovery Mode.
  4. Press and hold the Volume Up button and the Power button at the same time for 5 seconds.
  5. Release the Power and Volume Up buttons.
  6. The Recovery screen menu will now appear.
  7. Use the Volume Down button until you are highlighting ‘Wipe data/factory reset.’
  8. Press the Power button to select ‘Wipe data/factory reset.’
  9. Use Volume Down to highlight Yes.
  10. Press the Power button to confirm factory reset.

Galaxy Tab A can’t make calls fix #14: Contact your carrier

If none of the suggestions above has helped, you can assume that the issue is outside your device. To resolve the problem, you must get help from your network operator. Not all voice calling problems are fixable on a user’s end so be sure to talk to your carrier’s technical support team so they can figure out the cause.

If you are one of the users who encounters a problem with your device, let us know. We offer solutions for Android-related problems for free so if you have an issue with your Android device, simply fill in the short questionnaire in and we will try to publish our answers in the next posts. We cannot guarantee a quick response so if your issue is time sensitive, please find another way to resolve your problem.

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How to use your tablet as a phone

You can make phone calls and send texts with a tablet—even if it’s not connected to a cellular network. Just connect to Wi-Fi and use one of these apps to turn your tablet into a phone:

Verizon Messages

Verizon Messages comes pre-installed on Verizon Android™ tablets, so you don’t even need to download it. If you use HD Voice on your phone, you can connect your number to the Verizon Messages app on your tablet—your phone and tablet will ring simultaneously. You can even alternate between your phone and tablet during a call.


With ooVoo, you can use your tablet to connect with family and friends. The app’s video-chatting capabilities include making group calls with up to 12 people at once in a four-way display. Create video messages and share them on your profile page.


The Tango app is another great way to use your tablet as a phone. It’s easy to navigate and has a simple design. Tango lets you make high-quality voice and video calls, and you can even import Facebook® friends or your phone’s contacts and group them (family, friends, coworkers, etc.), so it’s easy to find everyone on your list.


You can use Skype for video and traditional calls, and to exchange instant messages, all from your tablet (or phone, desktop computer, TV or gaming console—Skype is compatible with them all).

Vonage Mobile®

Keep in touch with your international friends with Vonage Mobile, which lets you make voice and video calls on your tablet to fellow Vonage Mobile users throughout the world. Use group messaging and video chat.

Hangouts™ Dialer

Google’s Hangouts Dialer app lets you make and receive phone calls when you set up a Google Voice™ number.

Don’t have your phone to hand? Did you know you can make phone and video calls, and send messages, from your tablet? Hurray for VOIP services!

This is how you do it…

If you’ve got an iPad you can use Apple’s FaceTime or Messages apps to make calls or send messages to other iPhone and iPad owners if you have an internet connection. These service route the calls and messages over the internet so you’ll need to be connected to wi-fi or 4G to send a message or make a call. To use FaceTime, go to Settings and then scroll down and tap FaceTime. Make sure the slider next to FaceTime is set to on.

Now return to the Home Screen and open the FaceTime icon. Tap Audio or Video, depending on whether you want to make a telephone call or video calls, and then use the search button to find the contact you want to call. If they have FaceTime set up, there will be a camcorder and phone icon next to their name. Tap the icon depending on which type of call you want to make, and they call will begin to connect.

Luis AlvarezGetty Images

If you want to call or message someone that has a Google Android device, you can use Hangouts, a Google App which can be downloaded from the iTunes App Store. Instructions on how to use it can be found below…

Android tablets

Android devices offer a function called Hangouts, which lets you make calls and send messages from a tablet when both parties have internet access. It can be used to contact other Google Android devices and even those with iPhones or iPads, providing they have the free Hangouts app. If you don’t have the Hangouts app, download it for free from Google Play Store, or Apple’s app store.

When you launch the app for the first time, you’ll be asked to sign in with your Google account. Once signed up, you can select a contact to call by pressing the person icon at the bottom of the screen. Tap the contact you want to call and then select send a message, video call or voice call. If you select Call you will be connected to the contact, or if you press message you’ll be able to type and a send a message to your contact.

Related Story

Windows tablets

Windows tablets, whether running Windows 8 or Windows 10, come with Skype already installed, which can be used to make calls and send messages from your tablet when you’ve got internet access. You can make a Skype call or send a message to anyone else with a Skype account, including those with iPhones, iPads and Google Android devices, as well as other Windows Phone and Windows tablets. If you don’t have Skype, download it from your app store for free. Open the app and sign in with your Skype details, if you don’t have an account already follow the steps on screen to create one. From the top of the screen swipe across until you reach People, this will list all of your contacts that using Skype. You need to connect with them on Skype before you can call them. Once you’ve connected, simply press the contact and then choose from voice or video call.

Amazon Fire HD 8 Tablet, 16 GB Amazon £79.99 Lenovo Tab E7 Tablet John Lewis £49.99 Samsung Galaxy Tab A (2019) 10.1in John Lewis £199.00 Acer Iconia One 8 16GB Tablet Argos £69.99 2019 Apple iPad mini, Apple A12 John Lewis £382.00 Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition Amazon £84.99 Huawei MediaPad T3 8in Amazon £99.99 Alcatel One Touch Pixi 3 10in Amazon £74.00

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The key difference between phones and tablets is their size, but also the fact they don’t natively support phone calls and text messages. But phones are getting larger with each new generation, and it’s easy to make calls or send text messages from a tablet without it supporting 4G LTE. We show you how to make free calls on an Android tablet or iPad.

There are a couple of obvious options you may already be using to make phone calls on a tablet. Skype is an old favourite, allowing you to make video calls to any device running the app, but also to call landlines and mobile numbers. When used for the latter it’s the only app here to allow calls from a tablet that doesn’t require the recipient to be running any special hardware or software.

As an example, FaceTime is a video-calling option specific to Apple’s family of devices. It’s a brilliant tool if you’re all iOS users, but no use if your recipient doesn’t have an iPad, iPod or iPhone.

Here are some other free tools you can use to make calls from a tablet:

Use Amazon Alexa to make free calls on a tablet

Alexa, the voice assistant found inside Amazon’s range of smart speakers, has been available in app form to Android and iOS devices for some time. But only since March 2018 has it been possible to use that app to make free voice- and video calls to your friends and family.

You’ll need to download the Alexa app from the Apple App Store or Google Play, then verify your phone number to import your contacts. On some devices you’ll be able to tap the Alexa button and ask it to call a particular contact; on others you may need to find that person in the contacts section of the Alexa app and choose either the call or video call option.

Note that Alexa calling works only when your recipient is also using the Alexa app.

Use Google Duo to make free calls on a tablet

Google Duo is another free app available to both iOS and Android users, and although it requires a phone number to configure you can use the same number on both your phone and tablet. Since it’s a Google app, you might find it’s already installed on your Android device, but you will need to link your phone number before you can begin using it.

Google Duo is relatively basic, but it’s simple to use and works very much like FaceTime. You pick a contact, start a video call and then tap the screen to bring up options such as switching between front and rear cameras, mute the microphone or end the call.

There’s no group calling, no instant messages, just person-to-person video calls. We do like the Knock Knock feature, though, which let’s you see the caller’s video stream before you answer.

Another Google app you can use for voice calls is Hangouts, which is also supported on tablets. This is a calling and messaging service, while Duo is simply for video calls.

Use Facebook Messenger to make free calls on a tablet

Messenger, the Facebook companion app for private messages, also supports voice- and video calls over the internet. You can install it free from the App Store or Google Play as you would on a phone, then tap the phone icon at the top of a conversation with a friend to begin a call. Of course, this option is of use to you only if your recipient also uses Messenger.

What about Google Assistant and WhatsApp?

With Amazon adding voice call functionality to its Alexa mobile app, and Google having recently added the functionality to its Google Home smart speaker family through the Google Assistant, we suspect it’s only a matter of time before Google follows suit and allows calls from the Google Assistant app on tablets. It’s possible to install the Google Assistant app on all Android devices now, and on a phone Google Assistant will happily call your contacts, but that’s not possible on a tablet just yet.

WhatsApp also supports phone calls over the internet, but it’s not technically available on a tablet. You can use WhatsApp Web to open the messaging service in Chrome and send text- and voice messages from your standard WhatsApp account, but the voice- and video-calling function is not supported.

Of course, you could sideload the full version of WhatsApp on to a tablet and use this as you would on a phone, but you’ll need a phone number to activate the service and it will break and require re-sideloading every time an update becomes available. Given the simpler options we’ve listed above, it’s probably more hassle than it’s worth.

Read next: Google Duo vs FaceTime vs Skype vs Messenger

Amazon now lets you place calls through Alexa-enabled tablets

Amazon now lets you use Alexa to place phone and video calls and send messages on tablets, so you no longer need an Echo to talk to other Alexa users. Compatible tablets include Android tablets, iPads, and Amazon’s Fire tablets, as spotted by Engadget. The update requires you to download the new Alexa app, which begins rolling out today.

To set it up on the Fire HD 10 tablet in Hands-Free mode, just ask Alexa to place a call. On other Fire tablets that don’t yet have the Hands-Free mode, first tap the home button and then ask Alexa to make a call. On all other devices, just open the Alexa app, head to Conversations, select a contact, and press call.

Alexa users can now receive calls on their tablets through the Alexa app as of today. Amazon’s Drop In feature lets you connect tablets and other Echo devices in the home, so now your tablets can be flat and wide walkie-talkies.

Update March 12, 12:30 PM ET: This article has been corrected to reflect that receiving calls on tablets was not available until today.

You may or may not be excited about the idea of a phone-less future, but it looks like it’s coming. Alexa users can use Amazon’s voice assistant to place voice or video calls on their iOS, Fire, or Android tablets from today.

Amazon had previously introduced the ability to make voice and video calls from Amazon Echos in May of last year, but that functionality was restricted to only calling other Echo speakers or smartphones with the Alexa app installed. Starting from today, March 12, Amazon has made it possible to use Alexa to place or receive a voice or video call on your tablet, too, expanding your options for staying in touch.

Getting going is as easy as downloading the Alexa app for Android or iOS and entering your Amazon log-in details. After that, you’ll be prompted to allow Alexa access to your contacts and to verify your phone number via a text message. If you’re on a Fire tablet, Alexa should already be installed and should be available for calling. Fire HD 10 tablet users can ask Alexa to make calls completely hands-free, but for other Fire tablets (Fire 7, HD 8, or older generations), you’ll likely have to hit the home button first before you can ask Alexa to make the call.

If you want to video chat you’ll have to be sure that your intended contact has an Echo device with a screen — an Echo Show or Echo Spot — or you’ll only be able to make voice calls. However, you can also set up opt-in “Drop In” support for instant video or voice if you want an instant connection with a loved one or friend. Landline support is also available, and you can ask Alexa to call a specific landline number, but both yourself and your recipient will have to be using an Echo Connect to receive the call. Similarly, users will only be able to place a call to the emergency services if they have an Echo Connect.

It’s still a little limited. You’re restricted to only being able to call Amazon Echo devices or your contacts who also have the Alexa app — so it’s only Alexa-to-Alexa for now — and it’s currently only available to users in Canada and the U.S.. You’ll also need a stand-alone Echo device to call landline numbers. However, the calls are sent over Wi-Fi, and so are completely free, and since getting set up is as simple as installing an app, it’s a great way to easily stay in touch.

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  • Chromecast vs. Roku Streaming Stick+ vs. Fire TV Stick 4K

If you’ve ever felt the urge to ping an unsuspecting Fire HD tablet owner with a video call, good news: Now you can. Amazon today announced that starting this week Fire HD 8 and Fire HD 10 owners will be able to receive Drop In video calls from Alexa-enabled devices with displays and cameras, like the Echo Show and Echo Spot.

The new features are coming in a software update that’ll begin rolling out today. Previously, only the current-generation Fire HD 8, 2017 Fire HD 8, and Fire HD 10 tablets have been supported.

Drop In, you might recall, gives you a hands-free way to connect to Alexa devices instantly, without having to wait for the person on the other end to answer. It’s an optional feature and has to be enabled from the Settings menu — you’ll find it under Alexa > Hands-Free Mode, where you’ll also be able to specify which contacts and devices can use it.

As part of the above-mentioned update, Fire HD tablets are also gaining Announcements — messages recorded and sent via Echo products and other speakers, displays, and gadgets that tap the Alexa Voice Service, a cloud-based suite of tools that enable developers to add Alexa functionality to their devices. This feature must also be switched on from the settings menu (Communications > Calling and Messaging).

Both Drop In and Announcements are part of Show Mode, a setting that effectively transforms Fire HD tablets into Amazon Echo Show-style devices. Either standing alone or docked in Amazon’s Show Mode Charging Docks, Show Mode offers largely the same menus and features as the Show proper, including visual responses, video flash briefings, smart home controls, photo slideshows sourced from Amazon’s Prime Photos storage service, and access to Alexa’s more than 50,000 third-party voice apps.

Show Mode is activated with a swipe down from the Quick Settings menu and a tap of the corresponding button.

Updated at 2:46 p.m. Pacific: Additionally, Amazon revealed that Announcements are heading to the Fire TV Cube starting today, and that in December, Alexa on Fire TV Cube will support Announcements based on smart home device activity. The latter includes motion detection and doorbell rings, and users will be able to customize responses in the Routines section of the Alexa app.

Fire TV Cube owners can manage the settings for Alexa Announcements via the Alexa app.

How to Convert Android Tablet to Smart Phone for Free.

You may be using your Android tablet to browse the web, read the news and some time to watch movies. But you can convert your tablet to a phone to make calls for free of charge.

This is a replacement for your mobile phone in certain situations like when your mobile phone is running out of battery, or you reach your monthly minute limit.

There are a bunch of solutions to convert your tablet into a real smartphone device using third party apps and paid VoIP services. We selected two free solutions here, one with Google Hangout and the second one using Google Voice and VoIP service.

Related: Best 5 Android Apps to Make Free Calls to Any US Landline and Mobile Number

Google Voice is a free service from Google that provides unlimited calls to US and Canada for free. For more instructions to get a free Google Voice number, please read How To Get A Free US Phone Number?

You need only one email ID to get Google Voice Service and you can use Google Voice Supporting App to call from your tablet to any phone is the US and Canada for free.

Google Hangout Dialer

Google hangout integrates with Google Voice number, and now you can turn on this dial service and start calling using the app Google Hangout Dialer from Google play. This is the easiest solution to set up and configure and make calls from your tablet.

After installation, you can access all phone calling features directly from Hangouts or use Hangouts Dialer for a shortcut to the dialer screen in Hangouts. This app offers you free calls to US, Canada, and other Hangouts users.

Google Voice with VOIP App

Google Voice can be used with Vonage App to make calls directly from the App using the Google Voice number. You can download Vonage free app from Google Play Store. Once you download Vonage app, you have to create a new free account with Vonage App and register it with your Google Voice number.

With Vonage apps, after you register this Google Voice number with a new account, you can use the same account for five different devices to log in and use the same number to call any phone in US and Canada for free.

Viber Messenger

Viber is one of the famous voice and video chat apps that support almost all the platform. Once you create a Viber account by downloading Viber Messenger app from Google Play Store, you can set a number to work with Viber on Viber Settings.

To make calls from Tablet using Viber, you need WiFi connectivity. Simply choose a contact from your phone book or enter a phone number to add a new contact on Viber messenger. You can call any phone based on your country for free.

Related: How to Convert Your Android Tablet into A Dash Cam

After you setup, the new account in Vonage app with Google Voice Number, open the app, go to contacts or dialer window and start dialing from Vonage App. Have fun with your tablet and start calling for free from your tablet.

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14. Turn it into a kid-friendly learning tool

Your old tablet may seem tired to you, but it’s still top-notch tech by toddler standards — so why not turn it into a fun and educational gadget for your kid?

On tablets with Android 4.3 or higher, you can find a native Restricted Profile feature right within the operating system: Just head into the system settings, tap “Users” (or “Users & accounts” and then “Users,” depending on your OS version), and then “Add user or profile.”

Select the option to add a restricted profile. You’ll be prompted to enable or disable access to each app installed on the tablet, allowing you to control exactly what processes your progeny will and won’t be able to use.

If your old device has Android 7.0 or higher (or Android 6.0, on a small number of models), Google’s can give you even more robust controls — including the abilities to set screen-time limits and receive weekly activity reports. You can learn more and sign up at the .

15. Let it serve as a high-tech e-clock

Time for something new? An old phone with a dock can make a snazzy customizable clock for your desk or nightstand. Google’s own Clock app is a great place to start, especially if you want to use the clock for alarms. Look for the “Screensaver” option in the Display section of your system settings to make it automatically activate anytime your device is plugged in.

For even more visual flair, take a peek at Lucid DayDream Screensaver — a fully customizable screensaver that lets you have a clock along with calendar, weather and notification information floating around your screen whenever your device is idle. The app is free to try but requires a $1.50 in-app purchase to remain fully functional.

16. Convert it into a gaming device for your downtime

Put down the briefcase and summon your inner Pac-Man: Silly as it may seem, your old Android device is a mini-arcade just waiting to be called into action. (Hey, we all need the occasional break from working, right?)

To complete your device’s Game-Boy-like transformation, just surf the Play Store for some games — you can even find emulators for console-level systems, if (ahem) you know where to look — and then level up by grabbing one of Moga’s universal Android game controllers, available for $25 and up.

17. Keep it handy for emergencies

Any cell phone can make emergency calls, even if it’s not connected to active service. Keep an old phone charged and in your car or travel bag; if something bad happens and your active phone is either dead or unavailable, you’ll still have a way to get through to 911.

18. Turn it into your personal testing ground

Android is a tinkerer’s dream. It typically doesn’t take too much sorcery to root, or gain system-level access to, an Android device — and once you’ve done that, you open up a whole new world of possibilities. You can install powerful root-only applications and even replace your device’s entire operating system with a custom ROM full of fresh features and advanced customization potential.

Anytime you start poking around under the hood, though, you risk screwing something up. And when the device in question is your primary phone or tablet, that can be a daunting gamble to take (especially since rooting a device usually violates its warranty).

That’s where an old phone or tablet can come into play. Put on your hacker’s hat and do a Google search for “root ” and then ” ROM.” There’s a huge community of Android enthusiasts out there, and you’ll almost certainly find some helpful user-generated guides to get yourself started.

19. Sell it

This one’s easy, right? After all, what’s old to you is new to someone else. You can go the regular route and list your device on Craigslist or eBay — or you can check in with a more niche service like Swappa, Gazelle, or Glyde to get an instant estimated price for your device. Amazon and Best Buy also both offer buyback programs that may be worth investigating.

Whatever you do, make sure you head into your device’s system settings and perform a full factory reset before passing anything along. You’ll probably also want to remove any memory cards you might have added, if your old phone or tablet has an external storage slot.

20. Donate it

Feeling philanthropic? Rest assured: There’s no shortage of organizations ready to put your old Android device in the hands of someone who could really use it.

A few possibilities worth considering:

  • Medic Mobile: This nonprofit organization recycles old phones and tablets and then uses the proceeds to purchase new phones for health workers in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. The workers use those phones for things like tracking disease outbreaks and communicating in emergencies. You can print a prepaid shipping label on the Medic Mobile website.
  • Cell Phones For Soldiers: This nonprofit sends old phones along with free international calling service to troops serving overseas from all branches of the U.S. military. You can donate a device by finding a local drop-off point or requesting a mailing label.
  • Rainforest Connection: This nonprofit utilizes old phones to protect threatened rainforests in Indonesia, Africa, and the Amazon. How? The devices are fitted with solar panels for energy as well as specialized software that uses their microphones to monitor for the sound of illegal chainsawing and then alert nearby rangers to the activity (yes, really!). You can donate a device by mailing it to the organization’s California headquarters.

So there you have it: 20 intriguing options for giving new life to your old device. Figure out which one best suits you — and send those gadget-dwelling dust bunnies packing.

This story was originally published in August 2014 and most recently updated in September 2019.

How to make free phone calls, even on your tablet

Marc Saltzman Special to USA Today Published 12:11 PM EDT Jul 27, 2018 One of the oldest video calling apps is still one of the best, but both people need to be using Skype for calls to be free. Otherwise, you need to pay to call a landline or mobile number. © Microsoft 2018

Some people still use their phones to talk, not just text and surf. If you’re one, you can also cut costs when dialing.

So long as you’re on Wi-Fi – whether it’s your existing wireless network at home or a free Wi-Fi hot spot – you can take advantage of apps that let you make free “VoIP” calls (Voice over Internet Protocol) on your smartphone or tablet.

And while there are a couple of limitations, you can also make free phone calls now on smart speakers, such as Amazon Echo or Google Home.

Here’s a look at what you can use to make free phone calls (without using up mobile phone minutes) and any caveats you need to know.

Free calls to any U.S., Canadian number

One of the best apps for calling a U.S. or Canadian number – free over Wi-Fi – Talkatone also gives you an incoming number, as well, so people can call you, too. © 2018 Talkatone

Some iOS and Android apps that let you make free phone calls over Wi-Fi have a “catch,” such as requiring a specific app (such as Skype, FaceTime or WhatsApp); needing a home service from the same company (such as the magicApp, tied to magicJack) or having to earn credits by watching ads or inviting friends to use the app (such as the ePhone or TalkU apps).

What’s more, some apps only let you dial out but not receive calls.

But one I found called Talkatone (iOS, Android) was the best “no strings attached” solution. You get an incoming phone number, call quality is surprisingly decent, and you can text for free, too.

After you download the app to your smartphone or tablet, it sends you a verification code via text or email, or you can sign up with Facebook. Then you get an incoming phone number assigned to your device, but you can choose a different one. I was given options with various U.S. and Canadian area codes.

More: Why you might want to own a ‘burner phone’

More: Seriously, save money on gas, hotels and shopping with these 8 apps

As with most other VoIP solutions, you must first acknowledge these services do not support making 911 emergency calls, as your physical location cannot be assessed through your “virtual” number (if you’re unable to communicate with the operator you’re talking with, for instance).

Now you can dial any 10-digit mobile or landline phone number, as you would with any other phone, but you don’t need to pay a dime so long as you’re on Wi-Fi.

There are banner advertisements, though, plus there are optional in-app purchase options should you want no ads, international calling and advanced features such as call forwarding, and so on.

Talkatone says your incoming phone number expires if you don’t use the app for 30 days, unless you buy some credits to keep it going.

Are these apps secure, you ask? That is, are VoIP calls more susceptible to eavesdropping, especially with little-known app developers? Don’t use these apps if you’re concerned unless they guarantee end-to-end encryption.

Free worldwide calling

One of the oldest video calling apps is still one of the best, but both people need to be using Skype for calls to be free. Otherwise, you need to pay to call a landline or mobile number. © Microsoft 2018

Apps such as Talkatone are great because the person you’re calling doesn’t need to have a specific app installed. But you can only call someone in the U.S. and Canada for free.

What if your family, friends, partner or colleagues are in Europe, Asia or South America?

For free calls over Wi-Fi, to anyone in the world, both the caller and recipient need to use the same app – and many let you place a video call, too, for a more meaningful chat. And in some cases, you can do a group chat with multiple people.

Popular apps include Skype, FaceTime, Google Duo, Viber, Tango, imo, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, to name a few.

Should you want to call a landline or mobile phone number, however, you’ll have to pay for the privilege with apps such as Skype, but with reasonable rates.

Smart speakers, too

Use your smart speaker, like this Google Home Mini, to make free outgoing calls to U.S. and Canadian landlines and mobile numbers. With Amazon’s Echo family of devices you can call Mexico for free, as well. © Google Inc.

While you may use your Amazon Echo or Google Home speaker to ask for weather, play music or control your smart home devices, you might not know you can place free phone calls to any 10-digit number in the U.S. and Canada.

And with Amazon’s family of smart devices, you can call Mexico for free, too.

There are a few ways to do it. First say the wake word – “Alexa” for Amazon devices, or “OK Google” for Google Home speakers – and then say “call” or “dial” followed by the 10-digit number. If a person is in your Contacts, you can say “Call John Smith or Mary Jones, or call Dad,” and so on. Or you can use a smart speaker to call a business – even if you don’t know the specific address – by saying something like “Call the Home Depot near Yonge Street and High Tech Road,” and that will work, too.

More: Amazon Echo or Google Home? For U.S. households, that’s changing

More: 15 Google Home features you may not know

If you want, you can set up caller ID for your smart speaker (tied to your mobile phone number) in the app’s Settings area – otherwise the person you’re calling won’t see your number. You cannot call 911 with these devices, either.

Smart screens like Amazon’s Echo Show or Echo Spot let you make free video calls to others – and hands-free, too, no less. © 1996-2018,, Inc. or its affiliates

Amazon’s smart speakers also let you send voice recordings to another Alexa-powered speaker, or you broadcast a message to the family (such as announcing you’re almost home from work, with pizza in hand).

With smart screens, such as Amazon’s Echo Show or Echo Spot, you can also make video calls for free to others with compatible hardware. Similarly, with the upcoming Lenovo Smart Display and other Google Assistant-powered screens, you can also place video calls for free over Google Duo.

Follow Marc on Twitter: @marc_saltzman. E-mail him at [email protected]

Published 12:11 PM EDT Jul 27, 2018

Tired of sky-high cell phone bills, but not ready to throw it back to 1990 and throw out your smartphone? The solution may be simpler than you think.

Your tablet, with the help of an app or two, can double as a smartphone. Tablet calling can also save you money, since data-only plans designed for tablets are typically less expensive than traditional cell phone plans.

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Data-only plans are just that — all data, no minutes and no texts — so any calls or messages sent via an app will use data. Video calls are typically the biggest data hog, with regular messaging on the other end of the spectrum. Connecting to Wi-Fi whenever possible will help you keep your data usage down.

” MORE: How much data do you need?

Tablet calling is easy

You really need only two things to make your tablet function as a smartphone: a VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) or VoLTE (voice over LTE) app and a pair of headphones.

The former lets you make calls and send text messages over a data connection or Wi-Fi, rather than a cellular network. The latter keeps you from walking down the street with your iPad pressed to your ear, because that would just look foolish.

Here are some popular — and free — apps to consider:

  • Google Hangouts: The Hangouts app lets you send messages and make voice and video calls to anyone who has a Google account. You can also make free calls to most numbers in the U.S. and Canada. The app works on Android and Apple devices, so long as you have a strong Wi-Fi signal l a 3G data connection, at minimum.
  • Skype: Download the Skype app to call or message any Skype user for free using your iPad, Kindle Fire HD, Android or Windows tablet. Video calls are also free within the Skype network, but calls to cell phones or landlines are an additional charge.
  • Facebook Messenger: Facebook is great for keeping in touch with old friends via photos and status updates. But download this app to your tablet and you can text or call anyone who also has Facebook Messenger — you can even place or receive video calls. Messages, voice and video calls are free to anyone, anywhere in the world. You just need a Wi-Fi or data connection. Facebook Messenger works on iOS and Android tablets, as well as tablets that use Windows 10.
  • FaceTime and iMessage: These really work only within the Apple universe. But if you’re in that universe, you can use iMessage to send texts to other Apple devotees using their email, Apple ID or phone number (assuming they have an iPhone). FaceTime works within the same network, but you can make video and voice calls only to others with an Apple device.

This list of apps isn’t extensive. There are other options out there, some free and some that charge a modest fee. Do you use your tablet as a smartphone? Tell us about your favorite apps in the comments.

Kelsey Sheehy is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: m. Twitter: @KelseyLSheehy.