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Amazon Echo Auto review

Posted on 1-Sep-2020 16:27 by M Freitas | Filed under: Reviews

Amazon Echo Auto review

Take Alexa on the road is exactly what the Amazon Echo Auto device does. Some people are really invested in the Amazon smart assistant ecosystem - and it's easy to understand why it is so attractive, with smart speakers, smart streaming devices, security cameras - even wall clocks - all part of this platform. You can make these devices even smarter by interacting with other services through skills that can easily be linked to your account, augmenting the features available on the platform.


While you can replace (at least on Android) the default Assistant app with Alexa by just installing the Alexa app, it is not a practical solution - the limitations come mainly from the fact the Google Assistant has unlimited access to the microphone but any replacement assistant app requires you to push a button to start an action.


The Amazon Echo Auto device removes this limitation by being always listening (unless you push the mic off button) and interacting with Alexa app (and any data required for operation) on your smartphone via Bluetooth.


Even better, you have three options on how to hear feedback from your Amazon Echo Auto device - you can use your smartphone speakers, or connect to your car audio (either via AUX or via Bluetooth).


The device itself small and light - you can easily have it on the dashboard or use the provided vent adapter to have it positioned in one of the air vents. It can also attach to a magnetic surface or sticker if you have one on your car. It is USB-powered and even comes with a dual cigarette-lighter charger (5 V, 3.6 A) so you could potentially run both the Amazon Echo Auto and your phone from one powerpoint. 


As mentioned you will need the Alexa app on your smartphone - that's how the device actually executes the actions needed. Initial setup is extremely simple and you can be up and running in a few minutes. This is done via Bluetooth and this connection is then used for anything that requires data - so you will be using your mobile data when interacting with the Amazon Echo Auto device (as the device itself doesn't have direct access to the Internet).


As mentioned you can connect the Amazon Echo Auto to the car's radio using AUX or Bluetooth. It also happens that when you start your car and the Amazon Echo Auto powers on your smartphone will start using it as the default sound device - so all the sounds from your phone will then start coming out of your car's stereo. 


In case you don't have access to AUX or Bluetooth on your car's stereo you can simply change the default output back to your phone - all the replies from Alexa will then play on your phone.


Amazon Echo Auto has some neat tricks - it will work just like any other Alexa-enabled device as you can just say "Alexa" and see the blue light bouncing around so you know you can continue "what time is it?" or "tell me a joke".


The device is a great way to add hands-free operation to your car - you can say something like "Send a text message" and Alexa will ask you for the number and the message. The most interesting thing here is that the text message is sent with the transcribed text plus a link to a recording of your message, so whoever receives can be sure Alexa didn't get confused in translation.


You can communicate using voice too. You can ask Alexa to start a phone call using your phone or start an Alexa-to-Alexa call (when your Alexa device calls some other Alexa device in your contact book). You can also use the Alexa Drop (when you talk to someone directly through a specific Alexa device e.g. if I say "Drop on my Echo Studio" to talk to anyone in our lounge) or Alexa Announcement (when you record a message and send to all your Alexa smart speaker devices as a one-way communication).


While driving you can ask for things like "Alexa show me pizza places around here" and you will hear a list of pizza places nearby. If you ask "Alexa give me directions to Pizza Hut" or "Alexa give me directions to Wellington" the Maps app will appear and start navigation instructions to the required address. In the case of maps it will only work if the device is unlocked so ideally, you would have a way to quickly unlock the device with a fingerprint for example. You can also say "Alexa play Jazz on Spotify" and have the app open and start playing. 


And if you have kids then you can play games - the same games you access at home when using the Amazon Echo devices, so that's a good entertainment option.


The small Amazon Echo Auto has eight tiny microphones spread on its surface, making sure your voice is heard over road noises, air-conditioner and open windows. And if want some privacy you can easily push a button to turn its microphone off.


A great solution to both bring Alexa to your car and give you a very smart handsfree solution for while driving.


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