Have you ever used Amazon’s Echo and its AI assistant, Alexa, to help you take care of things while you are home but then missed Alexa once you were in your car? Yeah, me neither. Nevertheless, Amazon has expanded its Echo line to include a device made just for your car.
Amazon recently updated its Echo product line, and among the updates and new goodies, we can now add Echo Auto to our car for even more Big Brother spying connectivity. Though Amazon did experiment with a portable smart device, the Echo Tap (which has been discontinued), this is the first Echo designed specifically for your car. Of course, we can all already use Alexa on our smartphone which makes the technology portable, but hey, we’re a society that likes to overindulge.
The Amazon Echo Auto is currently only available for Prime members, and only by invitation. This is very similar to what they did with the release of the first Amazon Echo; it helps them gauge interest and make decisions about features and pricing. The early adapters are pretty much guinea pigs. Invites must be requested, and those that receive one will be able to get the Echo Auto for the discounted price of $24.99. The full price, as of now, looks like it will be $50. Amazon says only that invites will be released “later this year,” and does not give a release date for these beta purchases or for the general public.
So, how does this device work? Well, it connects to your car speakers through your phone, using either Bluetooth or an auxiliary input – very similar to the way that you play music in your car from your phone. This means that you need to have an active phone and plan. You may want to check with your carrier to make sure no additional charges will apply if you use this device.
Your Echo Auto purchase includes the Dash Mount, so you can easily add the device to your car. Like other Echo models, the Auto uses far-field technology with its 8 microphones so that it can hear you over all the noise in the car, like music, children, and wind.
Once you have your device connected, you can start using your voice to do things like control audio, activate a recap of the latest news, open your garage door, and locate places of interest like gas stations. Auto will be your road companion, playing Audible books, streaming podcasts, and playing Amazon Music, Spotify, Sirius XM, or NPR. It will also allow you to do small organizational things for your life, like set reminders, manage your calendar and add things to your lists.
If you happen to be terrible with directions, you don’t have to pull over to set your navigation ever again; just have your Echo Auto look up and start dishing out directions via Google Maps, Apple Maps, or Waze.
So, what do you think? Are you ready to take the driver’s seat with Alexa as your copilot?