With more home smart speaker offerings than you can shake a stick at, 2020 is truly the year of the Amazon Echo. And the e-retailer ultra-giant is doubling down now entering the automotive space as well launching products like the new Amazon Echo Auto.
Released just last month, it’s the same Alexa-powered experience we all know and love, except designed for use inside a vehicle.
“Customers in Canada tell us they want to take Alexa with them everywhere they go, and we’re delighted to offer them an easy way to add Alexa to the car they already own” said Celine Lee, Alexa Canada country manager, in a news release.
“With Echo Auto, they can enjoy the convenience of Alexa on the road, giving them the ability to ask to play music, make calls, continue their audiobook, manage their to do list and more — all just using their voice, and keeping their hands on the wheel.”
To combat challenges faced on the road, this portable version packs an eight-microphone array — compared to the standard home unit’s seven — so it can filter out ambient noise like the radio and/or air conditioning to properly hear operator commands.
Setup is incredibly easy. Connect the power by plugging the micro USB cable found in the box either directly to the car or via the 12-volt adapter boasting dual USB inputs. Then pair the Echo Auto to the stereo through Bluetooth (check compatibility) or complimentary 3.5-millimetre AUX cable. Finally, attach the supplied air vent clip to install onto the dashboard. I prefer a little more inconspicuousness, and instead took a bit of double-sided 3M tape and secured the device to my centre console.
After that’s out of the way, simply open the companion Android/iOS app on your phone, which is used to gain access to the Internet, to complete the process. Say her name, and a familiar light strip shines blue to indicate voice recognition. Everything works as one would expect, except I find it can be slow to initially connect, and I’ve had to re-open the app a couple of times to re-establish a link.
Handy features include having Alexa push navigation instructions to mobile, queue up a favourite Amazon Music or Spotify playlist, or even make a call to a saved contact or business. Need some extra inspiration? Here are some ideas on the Amazon website of things to ask, as well as a list of a few of the 100,000-plus skills available like my personal favourite, the Klingon Dictionary.
Amazon Echo Auto retails for 69.99 on Amazon.ca.