I recently got my hands on the Amazon Echo Auto with Alexa, and now I’m going to let you know all about what it can do, how well it works, and what it was like to install in my car. Hint: The installation was laughably easy. This device works with the Amazon Alexa App and allows you to do cool things like make hands-free phone calls, play your favourite music, and manage your busy schedule—just to name a few. Read on for all the details of how to get the most out of the Amazon Echo Auto and to see if one of these devices might be right for your car.
But before getting into the written review, I invite you to watch my brief video overview of the Amazon Echo Auto with Alexa. In this short video, I show the device and all its components, and I share a few thoughts on it:
Amazon Echo Auto features and specs
The Amazon Echo Auto is pretty much like any other Amazon Echo device—only for your car. It works with your smart phone and the Amazon Alexa App, and it has the ability to play through either your car’s existing speakers or your smart phone. There’s an auxiliary input cord for use with your vehicle’s speakers, but if you have a modern enough car to be equipped with Bluetooth, you can connect it that way as well. Alternatively, you can always use the Bluetooth on your smart phone to listen through the phone’s speaker. Included in the box are the unit itself, a mount that fits into your vehicle’s vent slats, a dual USB adapter that plugs into your car’s cigarette lighter port, and a couple of different wires (one micro-USB cable for power, and the previously mentioned auxiliary cable that routes sound output to your car’s speakers).
Once installed, the Echo Auto has the ability to help you find directions, stream music from a variety of different sources (Amazon Music, Audible, Apple Music, Deezer, SiriusXM, Spotify, and TuneIn), and even make hands-free phone calls.
Thanks to its use of eight microphones and far-field technology, you don’t have to worry about not being heard when on a call. Even when there’s plenty of road noise invading your vehicle, you’ll still be heard clearly by whoever you’re talking to. And the microphones are easily shut off at the simple press of a button, so you’ll always have privacy whenever you want it.
Echo Auto installation and use
Installing the Amazon Echo Auto was quick and easy—except for one minor issue. Our car is too old to have either an auxiliary input jack or Bluetooth, so I’m not able to listen to music through the car’s speakers. There may be some other way to achieve that still, but I’m generally fine without it as I have a small Bluetooth speaker that I typically bring along with me anyway for music.
Other than that one minor snag, the installation could not have been easier. Got 5 minutes? That’s probably about 3 more than you’ll actually need! Seriously, it’s super easy, and in no time at all you’ll have a new road trip companion: Alexa!
Basically, all you need to do is make sure you have the Alexa App downloaded and installed on your smart phone, then go and insert the Echo Auto’s mounting stand into the dashboard slats of your vehicle’s heating/cooling vent. It will stay there by simple friction.
Once this is done, simply plug the cigarette lighter power adapter into your car’s cigarette lighter port, plug the other end of the cord into the Echo Auto itself, and place the device on top of its mount. The Echo Auto attaches to the mount magnetically, so it’s unlikely to fall off unless something knocks it off.
If your vehicle has a port for routing sound through its speaker system, simply plug that cable in as well and you’ll be ready to begin the software portion of the installation. Once everything is physically in place, the Alexa App will allow you to add a new device and walk you through a few simple installation steps. You just need to make sure that your car is running to power the device on, but don’t try to install this thing while you’re driving!!! And don’t run your vehicle for any length of time in an unventilated garage either!!!
Once my Echo Auto was fully installed, I began asking Alexa a few basic questions like “Alexa, what time is it?” and “Alexa, what is tomorrow’s weather forecast?” just to make sure that everything was working properly, which it was. Next I asked whether or not Alexa was single, just because I like teasing AI.
Since then I’ve graduated to using the assistant to make more complex (and real) requests, like asking for directions to some place I need to go to, or for the location of the nearest gas station or coffee shop in an unfamiliar neighbourhood, as well as asking Alexa to remind me of things like when it’s time for my next oil change. You’ll have to provide the date to Alexa yourself, but the assistant will most definitely remind you of it when the time comes around.
Truthfully though, I mostly just like asking to hear my Spotify playlist without having to physically handle my phone while driving. I’m a pretty basic user of the device overall, but I definitely do like it. I suspect that most users will get more complex use out of their Echo Auto than I do, such as getting help with things like managing your schedule or having Alexa place phone calls for you. The possibilities are practically limitless!
I really enjoyed using the Amazon Echo Auto, though I might have enjoyed it a whole lot more had I been able to route the sound through our car’s speaker system. With newer model vehicles this probably won’t be much of an issue, but if your car or truck is a bit older like ours, it could be a problem.
Even so, it’s worth it to have a virtual assistant like Alexa along in the car with you, and if you’ve already got a smart phone, you can always hear Alexa’s voice through that. Besides, there are numerous ways to make use of a product like this one—particularly if you are driving to parts unknown and may need a little help finding your way.
Overall, I definitely recommend the Echo Auto if you’re someone who’s into using smart assistants in your home and would like to carry that experience over into driving your car, or even if you are a complete novice to smart voice assistants and just want to see what all the fuss is about. Recommended!