Amazon Echo Auto review – take Alexa on the road and make your car smarter


The Echo Auto is an 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. And if you can’t bear to leave Alexa behind.

There are numerous Amazon speakers powered by Alexa you can buy but if you can’t bear the thought of leaving Alexa behind when you get in your car then you can try the new Echo Auto.

It is designed to bring Alexa along for the ride and enjoy the convenience of accessing information, directions and all kinds of content using your voice.

And like a regular Alexa speaker, Echo Auto gives users access to Alexa skills

The Echo Auto unit is quite small – it’s 8.5cm wide, 4.7cm long and 1.3cm thick and has an action button and microphone-off button on top of the device.

It comes with a vent mount so you can easily the unit up on your dashboard.

The vent mount didn’t suit our car so we had it in the centre console and it worked just fine.

If it is attached to the vent mount you’re going to have a USB cable running down to your car’s 12V power source.

It connects from the device’s micro-USB port to the power source via the included car adaptor which has two USB ports to power the Echo Auto and another device.

Echo Auto also includes an eight microphone array so it can easily pick up your voice in the car.

Next step is to connect the Echo Auto via Bluetooth to your smartphone and the phone is then in turn connected to your car.

And don’t worry if your car doesn’t have Bluetooth – it can connect directly to your vehicle’s AUX IN port (if it has one) from the Echo Auto 3.5mm jack with an included audio cable.

Whichever way you’ve connected Echo Auto relies on your smartphone’s data to bring you the information and content you ask for so it’s going to use your data.

That’s no different to streaming content through your car’s system when your smartphone is linked directly via Bluetooth or through CarPlay or Android Auto.

But what Echo Auto brings to the table are its abilities to access music, podcasts and audiobooks just by asking for them.

Now if you have a newer car, you can probably already use your voice to place calls and access some of your content.

Anyone with an iPhone or Android phone can use Siri or Google Assistant in their car which might make some of Echo Auto’s features redundant but even then the device can still be quite useful.

With Echo Auto connecting to the app on your phone, users are able to do a lot in the car.

Like asking for directions, for example.

We set up Amazon’s Echo Auto in our car – a Tesla Model S – and our car already has a massive screen and a huge map and navigation we can access via voice control.

But not every car us like ours – some don’t even have a screen and rely on their phone for their directions.

In this instance, and if your phone is legally placed in a holder, it’s really handy asking Echo Auto to find a location.

We noticed on the iPhone users are required to touch their screen to start and the default is set at Apple Maps.

But you can choose either Apple Maps, Google Maps or Waze as your default mapping app and you’re on your way.

Android users actually have it a litter better here because it will open up Google Maps automatically without the need to touch the screen.

What we particularly liked was being able use our voice to access content – especially our podcasts and audiobooks.

Normally this requires you touching your device’s display and scrolling through to your content.

We love listening to audiobooks on Audible (which is owned by Amazon) and our favourite voice command was saying “Alexa, resume my audiobook” and it picked up right where we left off.

That’s something that required a few more keystrokes under normal circumstances.

But for those who don’t have CarPlay or Android Auto or even Bluetooth in their car, Echo Auto will be remarkably liberating.

It will allow you to answer your calls hands-free and also play your music and even ask for a particular artist.

But you can also do things like add items to your shopping list, check your calendar, check your commute and set reminders.

And you can also take advantage of the numerous Alexa skills so you can do everything from playing a game and checking your bank balance to getting the latest news headlines and ordering a pizza.

Another standout feature is being able to command your smart home with Echo Auto if you already have Alexa set up at home.

Now with Echo Auto you can turn on lights and heaters and the air conditioner and also check to see if you’ve left the iron on or if you’ve shut the garage door.

The Echo Auto will offer different experiences for different customers depending on how they connect with their car.

A newer car will already have a display, built-in GPS and voice control along with CarPlay and Android Auto.

For these drivers, Echo Auto can still be useful but they wouldn’t get as much use out of it as someone driving an older or less tech advanced car.

And, of course if you’re already wed to Alexa as your assistant at home, you might as well take that relationship on the road as well.

The Echo Auto is available now and is priced at $79.

VERDICT

The Echo Auto is an 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. And if you can’t bear to leave Alexa behind.



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