Amazon’s artificial intelligence Alexa is now also available for the car – a compact piece of hardware also promises smart support for owners of elderly automobiles. But how easy is it to take the echo phenomenon with you when you travel?
Smart loudspeakers with voice control are increasingly finding their way into German households, despite all data protection concerns. What for some is no more than unnecessary tech gimmick, on the other hand, fascinates not only futurists – after all, coupling with different parts of the household is child’s play to make and suddenly every (smart) light bulb can be dimmed on demand. If you are afraid to name the Amazon AI Alexa by name, you can also contact the disembodied voice using alternative activation words after making a setting in the app. One of them is actually “computer” – a dream for trekkies. Only the desire for an Earl Gray tea remains, which the enterprise computer Jean-Luc Picard always pours hot on command.
With the Echo Auto, Amazon has now launched an expansion of the Echo cosmos specifically for mobile purposes. This is particularly interesting for those who drive an older car and do not want to do without the convenience of digital music playback, hands-free system for phone calls and voice control. Where there is only a modest 3.5mm jack socket as input and there is also USB charging only via the cigarette lighter, this feels like a big step – but it really is not.
If you connect the narrow device to the above-mentioned power source using the supplied adapter and download the Alexa app to your smartphone, you can use all the advantages that the smart speaker already offers in the living room after just a few settings. At the wheel, these are even more valuable – after all, every glance at the smartphone display is a not insignificant risk in the context of traffic safety. So if you want to select songs and audiobooks while driving, it’s a good idea to use voice control to handle them.
The Echo Auto does not have its own loudspeaker, but can be connected to the vehicle’s stereo system using the aux cable included. As soon as the smartphone connected via Bluetooth is recognized, everything else can already be done via voice control. Unlike other Bluetooth receivers, the Echo Auto must be permanently connected to a power source, but permanent cabling can also be managed fairly well thanks to the holder for the device, which is also included. Despite all the slimness, the installation is still not a feast for the eyes – but there are a whole range of functions on four wheels. Aesthetic aficionados may already get out at this point, but for pragmatists with smart needs but old vehicles, the Echo Auto is a very pleasant solution for a reasonable price of currently cheap 43.86 euros (instead of 58.48 euros) as a prime deal.
The voice control responds as reliably as possible, although the activation word must be barked out if the music is loud. The holder for the device is intended for the ventilation slots and sometimes proves to be a bit shaky, although the magnetic fastening for the device itself is pleasantly clever. There is a slight deduction for the curiously missing option to rename the device in the car – if you’ve already got used to activating AI assistance with “computer” in the living room, you have to say “Alexa” when traveling. However, this is not a major drawback. The bottom line is that the Echo Auto is worth considering for the fulfillment of some smart wishes in the car – especially with the current price reduction.