Just as an Amazon Fire Stick makes your TV smart, so the new Amazon Echo Auto makes your car smart. Never mind Android Auto, Apple Carplay, connected car systems and enormous infotainment screens – all Echo Auto needs to make your car intelligent is a USB socket (or 12V power) and an auxiliary cable.
How does Echo Auto work?
Effectively, Echo Auto offers 50,000 Alexa ‘skills’ you can activate using your voice from behind the wheel. That means apps like Spotify and Audible are controllable via Amazon’s well-resolved voice recognition system.
The little box rests on your dashboard and connects to your phone, using the Alexa app and your phone data plan to work. You power up with a USB or a 12-volt socket, and plug into the car’s speakers with either an auxiliary cord or Bluetooth.
Th box contains eight microphones designed for in-car acoustics. That means you can ask Alexa for traffic updates or call someone over the sound of air conditioning, road noise, your music, and so on. It can connect to your home Amazon systems, too. You can program it to turn your outside lights on when you pull into your driveway at night, for example.
Given how poor some manufacturers own voice recognition systems are, we expect big things – especially given how much Amazon has put into the technology
Anything that lets us control facilities in-car, without taking attention off the road, gets our vote. It sounds better than scrolling through endless menus on a dashboard touchscreen, that’s for sure.