Hey Alexa, did you know I can use you in my car now? That's right: If you're a fan of the female-voiced artificial intelligence from Amazon, it's no longer just for helping you out around the house — it can now help you while on the road, too, with the introduction of Echo Auto.
Housed in a 3.3- by 1.9-inch unit that affixes to your dashboard, the Echo Auto uses an eight-microphone array designed to detect voice commands even over the sounds of the road, including your car's air conditioning and music. It connects to the internet via your smartphone and is powered via a micro-USB cable that plugs into your 12-volt power outlet. Echo Auto connects to your car via an auxiliary jack or your car's existing Bluetooth connection. Setup is done through the Alexa app on your smartphone and is supposed to be simple and quick. Just like that, you can ask Alexa for whatever you're looking for.
The Echo Auto will be sold for $49.99 through Amazon, but right now it's being offered at a $24.99 introductory price. So what sets the Echo Auto apart from in-dash infotainment systems or your phone simply connected to your car?
Here are six things that Alexa can do for you while you're on the road:
1. Everything Your Alexa at Home Can Do
Echo Auto lets you add items to your to-do lists, set reminders and manage your calendar with just your voice. If you use it to do these things at home, you can now do it all while you're inevitably stuck in traffic on your commute.
2. Be Your Co-Pilot
Alexa will let you connect to your favorite navigation app, whether its Google Maps, Apple Maps or Waze. It also uses location services that can help lead you to the nearest gas station or check traffic conditions.
3. Control Your Smart-Home Devices
Alexa has the potential to connect to thousands of smart-home devices, and you can now do that from your vehicle. With the right tech devices, you can tell Alexa to open your garage door, adjust your home thermostat or turn off your lights.
4. Give You the News
You no longer have to find your news station on the radio and wait for the headlines. With Alexa, you can connect to your favorite news app and get the stories that you're looking for without having to sit through all the commercials of a radio station.
5. Play Music However You Like It
Sure, you could just stream music straight from your phone to your car, but you can command Alexa to play music from some of your preferred music apps. You can also tell it to play specific songs, so you can cathartically absolve yourself of that song in your head without fiddling with your phone on the road.
Also: Don't fiddle with your phone on the road!
6. Play Around With Alexa's Skills
Besides Alexa's useful features, it also has plenty that are just plain fun. Try downloading some, especially for long trips in the car. You can play games like "Jeopardy!" or "20 Questions," have Alexa lead you through a relaxation exercise or even work toward learning a new language.
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