I love the idea of a voice assistant in my car – hands-free calls, music requests, driving directions, it seems like everything would become easier and safer. Can you imagine Alexa or Siri or the Google Assistant guiding you the same way a friend with a smartphone might?
This vision isn’t all that far off, given many of the hands-free features of newer cars. But Amazon offers a co-pilot voice assistant that could bridge the gap between the reality of automotive integration and the smart cars of the future.
In the box
Echo Auto comes in a rectangular box with the Amazon device inside, support for the air vent, car charger with two USB ports, micro-USB cable, 3.5 mm AUX cable and a user manual.
- Echo Auto
- The support for the air vent
- Car charger with two USB ports
- Micro-USB cable
- 3.5mm AUX cable
Together with the Amazon Echo Flex, the slim and light Echo Auto speaker is the most compact home ever made for the Alexa digital voice assistant.
It measures 85 x 47 x 13mm to be precise. There are only two physical buttons: for action and for mute.
An LED bar on the front glows blue when Alexa is listening, orange during setup, and red when disabled.
It has both 3.5mm audio and Bluetooth options to add Alexa to your car entertainment system.
So you can use it to take and make calls and request your favorite songs while driving.
What can Echo Auto do?
- Play music from Spotify, Apple, Pandora, Amazon and SiriusXM.
- Listen to audiobooks or podcasts.
- Listen to news, weather and sports or traffic updates.
- Search nearby gas stations, shops and restaurants and get directions via Google Maps, Waze and Apple Maps (displayed on your phone)
- Get answers to basic questions and check your calendars
- Activate thousands of skills and games.
- Create and listen to shopping lists, to-do lists and reminders.
- Call, text, or interact with friends and family if they have the Alexa app or compatible Alexa speakers.
- Control smart home devices and create location-based routines (Alexa uses your phone’s GPS to activate devices when you leave or come home).
That’s a lot of things to use Echo Auto for, although they vary in reliability. I think music playback controls, podcasts, news, and Audible commands work best with to-do lists, reminders, and grocery lists that arrive right away.
Routines based on location, skills, traffic, and local search are far less effective, and the Google Maps integration isn’t the best either. Everything else falls in between, although your experience will likely be different from mine.
However, you have many options and I’m sure you will find something that will perfectly match your habits and routines.
Setting up for Echo Auto is similar to how you would set up any Echo speaker and can be done in under five minutes. In addition to the device itself, an air vent mount, a car power adapter, a micro-USB cable and an auxiliary cable are also included with the purchase of the Echo Auto.
To fix the mount to a nearby air vent does not take long. But, before attaching the mount to the vent, you need to pass the USB cable through the cable clamp on the back of the mount. Then, place the Echo Auto on the holder, connect the USB cable to the Echo Auto and the power supply and, finally, connect the power supply to the vehicle’s 12V power socket.
As soon as you turn on the car and open the Amazon Alexa app, after a few minutes, after following the instructions within the app, you will be ready to start using Echo Auto.
You are probably wondering how Echo Auto works in detecting and understanding your voice. After all, a car cabin can be a noisy place. The ruckus from the outside could include the honking of other fairly stubborn road users, noise from the road surface, or the crackle of pouring rain as you drive. Inside, you might have the music playing at a decent volume and people chatting to each other. All of which means it’s enough to distract the Echo Auto. There are 8 microphones placed on the top panel of the Echo Auto that are well suited to the voice calling Alexa. For me it never failed, whether the windows rolled down or not.
Amazon Echo Auto will work in most cars. Almost all cars have a cigarette lighter for power. As long as you can connect the Echo Auto to your car audio system via an aux or Bluetooth port, which are also common in many older vehicles, you should be good to go. However, there are always exceptions.
Amazon says the Echo Auto is not compatible with all vehicles. Be sure to check the Amazon website to make sure your car and smartphone support the technology.
Amazon’s website has a growing list of cars with Alexa Auto built in. Currently, Amazon has partnered with Audi, BMW, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Ford, GMC, Lexus, Lincoln, Mini and Toyota. Some vehicles as early as model year 2016 offered integrated Alexa.
Why buy Echo Auto?
Echo Auto is a simple car problem solver, adding a proper voice assistant to a space where your hands and attention are limited is just a breeze.
Of course, the counterpoint to Echo Auto is that iPhones and Android smartphones all have a built-in voice assistant.
And using Siri (for Apple Maps) or Google Assistant (for Google Maps) is a slightly more refined experience, which matters when you’re behind the wheel.
But if you’re one of the millions of people who use Alexa at home, there’s a lot to like.
Alexa is a great voice assistant in your car and the ability to control your home devices, get directions, make calls to loved ones or just announce that you’ve just grabbed tonight’s takeaway and someone better set the table is real world benefits.
And the automatic mode for Alexa makes it seem like a well-developed feature.
Cars are clamoring for this level of intelligence, and if your home is already benefiting from Alexa, your car can too.
Final Thoughts Echo Auto
Echo Auto is the ideal choice for customers who want to make their car smarter and easier to control with their voice to access music and content along with skills and numerous other features. What if you can’t bear to leave Alexa at home.
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