The Amazon (AMZN) Echo and  Alphabet's  (GOOGL) Google Home could soon replace the smartphone as a means to make phone calls. 

The tech giants could bring the feature to their voice assistant platforms sometime this year, the  Wall Street Journal reported this week, citing sources. The launch has been delayed as the companies work out various issues related to privacy, telecom regulations and emergency services. 

The Echo and Home would probably use voice over internet protocol technology to connect with a user's smartphone, the  Journal noted. Call forwarding technology could also be used to connect the devices. 

By adding a phone call feature, Amazon and Google would invent another reason for people to keep using voice assistant devices, instead of their smartphone, tablet or any other technology. 

"It's a natural extension because think of where we typically use these devices - in the kitchen or in the living room - where our hands are busy," said Moor Insights president Patrick Moorhead.

Moorhead added that the calling technology could be a boon for businesses that might use it in conference call scenarios. 

Both the Google Home and Amazon Echo have seen a spike in sales, although Amazon's line of Echo products has arguably seen greater adoption. Google Home came to market later than the Amazon Echo and the Seattle-based company is estimated to have sold 5.1 million Echo units between 2014 and 2016.

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Google hasn't released sales figures for its Home device, but analytics firm VoiceLabs estimates that the number of Google Home users quadrupled last December during the holiday season. 

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