Amazon’s Alexa is likely to be probably the most standard voice assistants, but it surely doesn’t get pleasure from widespread integration with vehicles like Siri does with Apple CarPlay and Google Assistant does with Android Auto. If you wish to use Alexa whereas driving, you typically must depend on your cellphone and the Alexa cell app—or on a tool just like the Amazon Echo Auto. The $54.99 second-generation Echo Auto is a small, easy-to-mount microphone that connects along with your cellphone to allow Alexa in any automotive. Its mic works nicely and you’ll simply place it wherever is handy in your dashboard, however these are the one actual benefits it presents over merely utilizing your cellphone with a dashboard mount. And whereas it may possibly work with Android Auto and CarPlay in some methods, it’s not overly dependable with both.
Small and Straightforward to Mount
Amazon has achieved away with the vast, flat design of the unique Echo Auto. The brand new model makes use of a two-piece design with small black containers on both finish of a three-foot cable. On one finish is the microphone module, a 2-by-0.9-by-0.6-inch (HWD) rectangular capsule with a fabric-covered, front-facing grille, in addition to motion and mute buttons. The blue Alexa gentle ring exhibits up as an LED disc on the highest of the mic module, and the plastic again encompasses a notch that attaches to magnetized mounts. The opposite finish of the cable holds a 2.4-by-1.4-by-0.6-inch field with a built-in speaker, a 3.5mm port for connecting to your automotive’s aux audio jack (optionally available), and a USB-A plug for energy.
The microphone capsule is designed to be mounted someplace close to the motive force, whereas the speaker field hangs near wherever you plug the Echo Auto in. These areas are imprecise, as a result of Amazon presents quite a lot of methods to mount, energy, and join the gadget to your automotive. In case your automotive has a USB port, you may energy it that manner. If it doesn’t, or when you already use that port to cost your cellphone or allow Android Auto or CarPlay, you should utilize the included 12V automotive charger, which has each USB-A and USB-C ports.
For putting the microphone, the Echo Auto comes with an adhesive magnetic mount. It’s a flat black bar with a magnetic tab on one aspect to carry the capsule and adhesive on the opposite aspect to connect to your dashboard. For a further $7.99, you should purchase an adjustable vent mount with the identical magnetic tab that clips to your vent slats. Further adhesive mounts are additionally obtainable for $5.99 every. The adhesive mount works greatest on utterly easy surfaces—it didn’t stick very nicely to my automotive’s textured, leather-like dashboard, but it surely stayed locked in place on a clean spot of my automotive show’s easy glass.
The Alexa App Ties It All Collectively
Organising the Echo Auto is a reasonably easy course of. Plug the gadget into your required energy supply and the speaker will let you know to put in the Alexa app in your cellphone, open it, and observe the prompts so as to add the Echo Auto. The app ought to mechanically detect the gadget and ask you to pair it along with your cellphone by choosing it within the app. Twice throughout setup, nevertheless, the Echo Auto failed to look within the app, even after initially detecting it. I needed to reset my cellphone and restart the setup course of by unplugging the Echo Auto and plugging it again in to get it to pair efficiently.
After the Echo Auto is paired, the app will ask the way you join your cellphone to your automotive’s sound system: Bluetooth, wired with a 3.5mm audio cable, wired with Android Auto/CarPlay, or wi-fi with Android Auto/CarPlay. Whereas the Echo Auto has its personal speaker for the voice assistant, it depends in your cellphone for calls and media playback. As soon as that’s settled, the app will invite you to configure totally different features like media, calls, texts, and instructions. These are all easy choices you faucet by way of to make sure your cellphone shares name and message info with the gadget, and that Alexa will use your most popular streaming providers.
At this level, you’ll have to think about the way you wish to use the Echo Auto (and the way cluttered you need your dashboard). Clearly, the microphone must be mounted someplace it may possibly simply hear your voice. Ensuring the sunshine ring is seen and the buttons are accessible is vital, too. If you wish to use solely Alexa’s audio options, you may depart it at that.
If you wish to ask Alexa to show actions or outcomes in your cellphone’s display screen, you’ll must mount your cellphone someplace handy to see, as nicely. It will present the additional benefit of letting you view solutions from Alexa because of the Alexa app and its simplified Auto Mode.
Correct Voice Instructions With a Few Hiccups
I examined the Echo Auto with my 2018 Honda Match, utilizing each a Bluetooth connection and a wired CarPlay connection between my cellphone and automotive.
I discovered the Echo Auto efficiently linked to my cellphone with none prompting solely about two-thirds of the time. This let me use it instantly after I began the automotive (and after a few 10-second wait to let the gadget energy on and get every little thing speaking). The opposite third of the time, the Echo Auto skilled interruptions connecting to the cellphone, which resulted in it ignoring my requests. Manually opening the Alexa app on my cellphone and ready a bit longer sometimes mounted this, however the expertise was irritating.
As soon as the Echo Auto and my cellphone have been correctly synced (I by no means had a problem connecting my cellphone to my automotive), Alexa labored nicely. So long as my cellphone had any sign, it responded instantly and precisely to my instructions. The mic picked up my voice and understood every little thing I mentioned exterior of some artist requests that weren’t in Amazon Prime Music’s library. I may make calls, play tracks from Prime Music and radio stations from Spotify, and even request instructions. In the event you don’t have already got a automotive console system with Android Auto or CarPlay, it provides plenty of performance.
It will get tough if you have already got Apple or Google’s methods in your automotive and a corresponding cellphone in your pocket. For communication options, something I requested Alexa to do confirmed up on my automotive’s CarPlay show. That’s an excellent begin, however the integration begins to unravel the extra you ask.
Music and podcast requests have been a lot much less dependable. Generally Alexa began enjoying the right audio instantly, however the related app solely confirmed up on the automotive’s show often. Generally the music enjoying didn’t seem on the display screen in any respect and I needed to management it completely with my voice (although, fortunately, the observe and quantity controls on the steering wheel labored regardless). Alexa doesn’t assist YouTube Music, my most popular streaming music service; for Echo Auto music requests, you’re restricted to Amazon Music, Apple Podcasts, Deezer, iHeartRadio, Pandora, SiriusXM, Spotify, and Tidal.
Mapping instructions is barely trickier, although finally a bit extra dependable. Asking Alexa to deliver up instructions will do it within the Alexa app, which is able to then immediate you to faucet your cellphone to load the request in your most popular map app. At this level, you should utilize the app by itself in your cellphone when you’re utilizing a cellphone clip, or with Android Auto or CarPlay by letting the map mechanically enter the instructions into the system. Nonetheless, it requires a faucet in your cellphone regardless, so that you’ll must have it available. This isn’t a horrible flaw, since it’s best to usually be setting your vacation spot earlier than you’re on the street, anyway.
The Redundancy Query
The Echo Auto works nicely as marketed, but it surely nonetheless leaves two huge questions: What does it add when you already use Alexa in your cellphone, and what does it add if you have already got Android Auto or CarPlay?
If in case you have an excellent mount in your cellphone, you may merely use the Alexa app for hands-free Alexa voice help, with requests and instructions exhibiting up reliably in your cellphone’s display screen. On this case, the primary good thing about the Echo Auto is its separate microphone. It’s an excellent mic which you can place anyplace the adhesive or vent mounts can go, and it may possibly clearly choose up requests even towards street noise and blaring music (which the system will mechanically flip down as soon as it detects the wake phrase). In case your cellphone’s mic typically will get Alexa requests flawed, the Echo Auto will in all probability repair that.
If in case you have Android Auto or CarPlay, the Echo Auto truly presents a barely extra compelling benefit with a extra difficult downside. It helps you to use Alexa simply in your automotive, with an excellent mic, as an alternative of forcing you to depend on Google Assistant or Siri. It may possibly additionally, in restricted circumstances, combine along with your automotive’s built-in show. The reliability of that integration is hit and miss, although, and if you wish to maintain the Alexa app seen to substantiate instructions and management the audio additional, you’ll then must steadiness two screens in your console as an alternative of only one.
A Higher Mic for Your Automotive
Amazon’s Echo Auto is a comparatively helpful accent that provides, or at the least improves, the Alexa expertise in your automotive. You’ll be able to at all times mount your cellphone and use the Alexa app’s Auto mode for primary performance, The mic on the Echo Auto, although, is particularly constructed to listen to your instructions no matter street noise or the radio and is an improve to your cellphone’s built-in mics. It isn’t fairly as interesting if you have already got a linked platform constructed into your automotive, however at the least it gives a substitute for Apple’s and Google’s voice assistants, albeit with caveats. In the end, it’s an reasonably priced gadget that may improve your car-based Alexa expertise, even when merely getting a cellphone mount is cheaper.