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Amazon Echo Auto

Amazon Echo Auto can bring Alexa into almost any car

Amazon Echo Auto

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.

Amazon Echo Auto

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.

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Seat with Amazon Alexa

“Alexa, find the nearest Seat dealer” – Amazon Alexa now available in Seats

Seat with Amazon Alexa

Seat is the first automotive brand in Europe to launch Amazon Alexa in its cars. The cloud-based voice control system will give users the ability to change music, manage personal schedules, get directions and more.

Alexa, launched in 2014, has accrued more than 45,000 ‘skills’ via the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) with which developers have actively worked to grow Alexa’s range of abilities.

Seat claims the integration of Amazon Alexa should make using the car’s features safer, too. The usual multi-step navigation process of button-pressing and menu-jumping is reduced to a simple press of the control button followed by a vocal command for Alexa to follow. Great, if it works…

The availability of the service goes back to cars manufactured after May of 2018 (MY19 cars) and fitted with Sat Nav High, so if you’ve already taken delivery of your car but it’s still fresh out the box, there’s a chance you can get Alexa.

Seat

Finding a balance

Much like Apple’s CarPlay and Android Auto, Amazon Alexa could serve as the purpose-made replacement for features that in-house development couldn’t fully realise. Voice control has been around in cars for years, as have multi-media interfaces. Only recently has the integration of systems from dedicated technology companies elevated in-car media experiences up to the standards we enjoy on our other devices.

Alexa will hopefully do the same thing for voice control as smart UIs did for in-car entertainment.

“As functionality and connectivity levels increase, we have to find a balance between usability and safety. Introducing Amazon Alexa helps us find that balance,” said Seat president Luca de Meo.

“With just a tap of the steering wheel, customers will be able to ask Alexa for music, points of interest and much more without taking eyes off the road.”

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Volvo Amazon Prime Now test drives

Now you can arrange to test drive a Volvo on Amazon

 

Volvo Amazon Prime Now test drives

Amazon’s Prime Now service is designed for shoppers who find next-day deliveries just a little bit slow. If you want something and you want it within two hours, you’ve got it, providing you live in the right postcode and have signed up to Amazon Prime.

But forget toothpaste, dishwasher tablets and ice cream, because now, for the first time, you can arrange a test drive of a new car via Prime Now. There are a couple of catches – which we’ll come to in a moment – but after a sign-up process, the vehicle will be delivered to your home or workplace.

It’s the result of a collaboration between Amazon and Volvo Car UK, which follows the introduction of the company’s new Care by Volvo subscription-based ownership package.

For now at least, the service is limited to the Volvo V40 and is only available in London, Birmingham, Manchester and Edinburgh, but we’d expect it to be widened to include other cars and locations, should this initial roll-out prove successful.

Delivery to your door

Amazon Prime Now test drive

Jon Wakefield, managing director of Volvo Car UK, said: “At Volvo Cars, we aim to make people’s lives easier. Our ‘Prime Now test drive’ offer does just that, allowing potential customers to try our V40 on their terms and in familiar surroundings.

“We’re proud to team up with Amazon to deliver this unique initiative, the first of its kind in the UK and the latest in a range of offerings from Volvo designed to take the hassle out of running a car.”

Having signed-up and selected a time-slot, a ‘fully trained operative’ will deliver the car to the door, before accompanying the prospective customer on a 45-minute test drive.

Should the customer be interested in purchasing a V40, they will be directed to their local Volvo retailer, which will be music to the ears of dealers up and down the land, fearful that this venture could cut out the middleman. Test drives will be offered on a first come, first served basis over the following weekends:

  • London: 9-10 June
  • Birmingham: 16-17 June
  • Manchester: 23-24 June
  • Edinburgh: 30 June-1 July

Customers living outside the eligible areas are invited to visit their local dealer for a test drive. How very old-school.

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The Grand Tour: fans from more than 100 countries want to visit Whitby

You’re invited to join Clarkson’s Grand Tour in Whitby

the-grand-tour-whitby

With filming underway for The Grand Tour, the ex-Top Gear trio have announced they will be filming in front of a live studio audience in North Yorkshire. Yes, that’s right: Clarkson, Hammond and May will be in Whitby.

It’s the first UK stop for The Grand Tour, which will also visit Johannesburg and California. Jezza and the gang will follow in the footsteps of Bram Stoker and Captain Cook, who are both linked with the seaside town. Stoker stayed in the Royal Hotel and is said to have based Dracula on the town.

No comments about rare steaks, please.

Jay Marine, vice president of Amazon Video Europe, said: “We were blown away by the customer demand for tickets to our studio tent recordings in Johannesburg and California and today we are excited to announce that the guys are coming home!

“Our first UK stop on The Grand Tour will be the historic North Yorkshire town of Whitby, so we invite fans to get in early to join Jeremy, Richard and James for thrills, spills and fish and chips by the seaside.”

But no steak. Definitely no steak.

Amazon’s website suggests filming will be taking place on the 13th and 14th October and that ‘audience participation is key’. Applicants must say why they want to go and, curiously, which of the presenters they most like and why.

The Grand Tour will launch on 18th November 2016 exclusively for Amazon Prime members. If you fancy standing in a big tent in Whitby, you’ll need to be quick, as entries are only open for two days and will close at midnight on Friday 30th September.

To apply for your trip to the seaside, go to: www.amazon.co.uk/GTGuestlist.

The Grand Tour: fans from more than 100 countries want to visit Whitby

You're invited to join Clarkson's Grand Tour in Whitby

the-grand-tour-whitby

With filming underway for The Grand Tour, the ex-Top Gear trio have announced they will be filming in front of a live studio audience in North Yorkshire. Yes, that’s right: Clarkson, Hammond and May will be in Whitby.

It’s the first UK stop for The Grand Tour, which will also visit Johannesburg and California. Jezza and the gang will follow in the footsteps of Bram Stoker and Captain Cook, who are both linked with the seaside town. Stoker stayed in the Royal Hotel and is said to have based Dracula on the town.

No comments about rare steaks, please.

Jay Marine, vice president of Amazon Video Europe, said: “We were blown away by the customer demand for tickets to our studio tent recordings in Johannesburg and California and today we are excited to announce that the guys are coming home!

“Our first UK stop on The Grand Tour will be the historic North Yorkshire town of Whitby, so we invite fans to get in early to join Jeremy, Richard and James for thrills, spills and fish and chips by the seaside.”

But no steak. Definitely no steak.

Amazon’s website suggests filming will be taking place on the 13th and 14th October and that ‘audience participation is key’. Applicants must say why they want to go and, curiously, which of the presenters they most like and why.

The Grand Tour will launch on 18th November 2016 exclusively for Amazon Prime members. If you fancy standing in a big tent in Whitby, you’ll need to be quick, as entries are only open for two days and will close at midnight on Friday 30th September.

To apply for your trip to the seaside, go to: www.amazon.co.uk/GTGuestlist.

Amazon Alexa BMW Connected

Amazon Echo already supported by BMW in the UK

Amazon Alexa BMW ConnectedWhen the Amazon Echo virtual assistant device ships in the UK (and Germany) later this month, early-adopters who own a BMW will find they’re immediately able to operate BMW Connected functions by their voice alone.

BMW has confirmed its integration with the Amazon Alexa virtual assistant technology will be functional from launch when the new Echo speakers launch in the UK – meaning British BMW owners are likely to number among the first buyers now Amazon has opened pre-orders here.

BMW Connected is a personal digital mobility assistant: via a so-called ‘Alexa skill’, Echo owners will be able to control it in their home via voice activation alone, in addition to the existing BMW Connected iPhone, Apple Watch and Android smartphone apps.

So what can you do? Use your voice, says BMW, to:

  • Check your BMW’s fuel level…
  • … Or your BMW i3 and i8’s battery charge
  • Lock and unlock the vehicle
  • Set sat nav destinations
  • Ask Alexa what time you need to leave in order to make your next appointment

You use it simply by speaking ‘Alexa, BMW’, followed by the question. Wondering if you have time for another round of toast and a coffee in the morning? Don’t bother checking your phone – simply say: “Alexa, ask BMW when I should leave for my next appointment”.

Which, you have to admit, is pretty cool.

BMW is the first car manufacturer to announce it’ll be fully integrated with Alexa in the UK: if you’ve an Echo device on pre-order for September 28th delivery, best get to your local BMW dealer double-quick to buy a car you can use it to talk to.

Begging, blackmailing and flirting: how US fans are trying to get Grand Tour tickets

Begging, blackmailing and flirting: how U.S. Grand Tour fans are trying to get tickets

Begging, blackmailing and flirting: how US fans are trying to get Grand Tour tickets

As part of Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May’s new show, The Grand Tour, the ex-Top Gear trio will be touring the world and presenting in front of live studio audiences.

On Friday, The Grand Tour announced it would be filming in Southern California – and all fans had to do was apply via this link and answer a few simple questions to be in the crowd.

Over the weekend, Amazon was bombarded with applications to see the show, with applications received from all 50 US states.

But many fans are taking to Twitter to try to convince the hosts to give them tickets… with some taking extreme measures.

Some are trying to bribe Clarkson with wine, and US presidency nominations…

While others are even resorting to flirting:

And some went a step too far:

But a lot of Canadians are feeling left out:

Amazon Video EU’s VP, Jay Marine, said: “The anticipation is definitely high for The Grand Tour. We knew Jeremy, Richard and James had a large following in America, but the response has far exceeded our expectations. We could film a show every day for the next 6 months and would still not have enough tickets to satisfy the demand.

“Chosen US customers will be contacted over the coming weeks with ticketing details, and all Prime members can look forward to seeing The Grand Tour this Autumn when it launches exclusively on Prime Video.”

The £160 million show will be available to watch exclusively on Amazon Prime, with fans having to pay £79 a year to watch it.

New Amazon Prime show

New ‘Top Gear’ show named

New Amazon Prime showThe new Amazon Prime TV show set to rival the BBC’s Top Gear has been named: The Grand Tour.

The programme will be presented by former Top Gear stalwarts Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May. Only those who have signed up to Amazon Prime’s £79-per-year streaming service will be able to watch it.

Clarkson announced The Grand Tour on Twitter by saying: ‘Start the smoke. We have a name.”

The controversial presenter then explained: “We’ll be travelling the world hosting each episode in a different country, from a giant tent. It’s a sort of “grand tour”, if you like. So we’ve decided to call it ‘The Grand Tour’.”

Lads on tour

Clarkson later tweeted: “So, The Grand Tour (GT for short) will come from a tent, which we will put up in a different location every week. Your town?”,  although it’s not yet clear if fans can nominate their town to host the show,

Hammond and May seemed less enthusiastic about the name. Hammond said: “We’ve got a name. And it was bleeding obvious cos it’s what we’re doing: coming from a different place every week.”

And James May remarked: “I wanted to call it ‘Nigel’, or ‘Roger’. We needed a name, and they’re names.”

Hypercar group test

With the three presenters, plus former Top Gear producer Andy Wilman on board, it’s likely the show will have many similarities to the old BBC Top Gear.

And we know the new series will start with a bang: namely a group test of the Ferrari LaFerrari, McLaren P1 and Porsche 918 Spyder hypercars.

In a similarity with the forthcoming, Chris Evans-hosted Top Gear, several Reliant Robins will feature, too.

A 12-episode series of The Grand Tour will begin on Amazon Prime this autumn.

 

 

 

 

New Amazon Prime show

New 'Top Gear' show named

New Amazon Prime showThe new Amazon Prime TV show set to rival the BBC’s Top Gear has been named: The Grand Tour.

The programme will be presented by former Top Gear stalwarts Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May. Only those who have signed up to Amazon Prime’s £79-per-year streaming service will be able to watch it.

Clarkson announced The Grand Tour on Twitter by saying: ‘Start the smoke. We have a name.”

The controversial presenter then explained: “We’ll be travelling the world hosting each episode in a different country, from a giant tent. It’s a sort of “grand tour”, if you like. So we’ve decided to call it ‘The Grand Tour’.”

Lads on tour

Clarkson later tweeted: “So, The Grand Tour (GT for short) will come from a tent, which we will put up in a different location every week. Your town?”,  although it’s not yet clear if fans can nominate their town to host the show,

Hammond and May seemed less enthusiastic about the name. Hammond said: “We’ve got a name. And it was bleeding obvious cos it’s what we’re doing: coming from a different place every week.”

And James May remarked: “I wanted to call it ‘Nigel’, or ‘Roger’. We needed a name, and they’re names.”

Hypercar group test

With the three presenters, plus former Top Gear producer Andy Wilman on board, it’s likely the show will have many similarities to the old BBC Top Gear.

And we know the new series will start with a bang: namely a group test of the Ferrari LaFerrari, McLaren P1 and Porsche 918 Spyder hypercars.

In a similarity with the forthcoming, Chris Evans-hosted Top Gear, several Reliant Robins will feature, too.

A 12-episode series of The Grand Tour will begin on Amazon Prime this autumn.