cl-au logo
Story image

Hands-on review: The Amazon Echo Auto

14 Sep 2020

Already possessing a relatively smart car audio system, I was wondering how the Amazon Echo Auto could add to my motoring experience. I’ve had some small experience already with Amazon’s Alexa, OK Google and Siri. I have also developed a love-hate relationship with my car’s onboard computer. 

Alexa doesn’t nag. She never tells me, “Please obey all traffic regulations”. She doesn’t indicate that I’m driving through farm paddocks when I’m on the new Expressway extension.  If I want to listen to Neil Young, Alexa will find him on my default music app.  She will tell me bad puns if I need cheering up. She will tell me what the weather is doing.

If you want a similar experience, you will need to invest some time in setting all these things up in your Amazon Alexa App - especially if you want the Echo to turn on your lights when you’re getting near home.

Once I had gone through the setup (best done at home on your wi-fi and not in a moving car) I found talking to Alexa very easy. Those who know me will understand that the hard part is stopping me from talking. The Echo Auto works alongside the Amazon Alexa app.

How complex your setup is will depend on the complexity of your needs.  I’m very interested in home automation, but my life as a reviewer means that I’m forever hopping from one phone to another. At some stage, I’ll need to reactivate all my smart devices on my phone, as soon as I remember which one is mine. 

You’ll just need to ensure you have adequate data allocated on your phone, as the phone remains integral to how well Alexa will work. Make sure you take the time to set up all those services and apps you use, and Alexa will integrate brilliantly using your voice. Amazon promises that the microphones will easily deal with background noise. As I write, I’m not in my car but at my desk. Alexa is ignoring the Beast and Brad in the background, and only has ears for me. 

For the purpose of the review, I focused on just a few functions. I’m keen to know where I am - and as I mentioned earlier, my car tells me I’m cruising through paddocks whenever I use the newest expressway in the Waikato. Alexa uses Google Maps on my phone, sidestepping my car’s built-in software, which I can have updated at a cost at my next service.  To use Alexa to navigate, I rely on my phone. This gives you a voice-activated way of navigating, similar to what you can already do if you have Android or Apple CarPlay installed.  

To get the most out of the Echo Auto, you will need to spend some time sorting out the settings on the Amazon Alexa app.  A sneaky look at my reviewing brethren tell me that this can be frustrating, but I haven’t had any headaches. My chief task was to point Alexa to my default music app, which isn’t Amazon Music. Once that was achieved, I was underway. 

As I write, I’m yet to get to grips with IHeartRadio, but this has been mainly due to my other main role in life, pandering patiently to the needs of my patient who is recovering after major surgery. Pillows fluffed, blankie tucked in and fevered brow sufficiently fanned, I can then retire to the study until called on for another glass of water or to peel another grape. 
In the meantime, I’m making do with CNN and the BBC World Service for my news fixes.

Amazon’s Echo Auto comes with a clip-in holder that attaches to your air vent, with a cable running to your USB charger. If your car radio has an auxiliary input, you can plug the aux cable directly into your car stereo. I use the Bluetooth connection, meaning one less cable for me to misplace.  

Once you have all the settings you need on the Amazon Alexa app, you will hit the road happily telling Alexa to tell you what the weather is doing, play your favourite Taylor Swift songs or call your mum. It hasn’t happened to me yet, but others have warned of those “dead areas” where cellphone coverage isn’t as great as it is here in the Auckland and Waikato regions. 

If you already have a smart setup in your car, the Echo Auto may well be unnecessary. For me, however, it meant being able to do everything by voice alone and forgetting about pressing buttons and taking my eyes off the road. 

Coming in at well under $100, the Echo Auto may well be that auto accessory that keeps you company on those long road trips. My only caveat would be the time you need to spend with the app to ensure you’re set up properly. In the end, though, it will be worth the effort.  

Story image
Application management revenue to reach $21.5bn across APAC
"Application management will be among the primary requirements of enterprises."More
Link image
<span class="coloured">Unleash the intelligent way to automate at Pega Discover – Intelligent Automation</span>
Find out how the world’s largest brands are accelerating business and simplifying systems in this two-hour, interactive virtual event. By the end you’ll be primed to start getting business done smarter and faster while scaling toward your biggest business goals. Register Now.More
Story image
Hands-on review: PNY HP flash drives
PNY sent over a selection of their new HP authorised flash drives for us to put through their paces.More
Story image
Hands-on review: Gigabyte Aorus G27QC and G27FC 27” gaming monitors
Chances are that the cool flat-screen that you purchased to replace the CRT screen that you pilfered from work back in 2005 is way past its prime.More
Story image
Dicker Data announces IoT portfolio expansion with dual partnership
The new distribution partnerships with Kontakt.io and Digital Matter will provide Dicker Data’s extensive partner base with access to a full range of GPS outdoor tracking and Bluetooth indoor tracking applications and devices.More
Story image
Vectra and Exclusive Networks sign partnership to integrate NDR tech
Vectra, which leverages network detection and response (NDR) technology, will integrate into Exclusive Networks’ current EDR and SIEM offerings, reducing the chance that attackers can operate on a network and achieve what they are trying to do.More