Amazon are updating their Alexa app, providing a simplified in-car display with music, navigation and communication controls for driving.
Amazon’s Echo Auto serves as your Alexa in the car. With 8 microphones, Echo Auto will listen to your commands such as music playback, calls, or reminder requests and playback through your car’s stereo via Bluetooth or the 3.5mm AUX input.
Soon, when in the car, Echo Auto owners will see their Alexa app show controls for driving, turning their phone into a smart, driver-friendly display. Much like Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, Alexa’s Auto Mode will offer a simplified interface, with large controls for common actions such as navigating to saved locations, playing recent media and calling contacts/Alexa devices, while remaining focused on the road.
The Alexa app will have four screens with a persistent menu bar to switch between pages:
Auto Mode is the home screen. Giving you quick one touch access to frequent actions such as navigation home or to work, as well as a play/pause button next to your current track. Hints at the botton of the screen help you discover new features. Simply touch one of the controls or ask Alexa.
Navigate gives you quick access to your favourite locations stores in the Alexa app. Choosing a destination will open your preferred maps app, then you can simply ask “Alexa, go back to the Alexa app” to return to the app. Find new places to go with commands such as “Alexa, find nearby coffee shops.” Alexa will show relevant places for you to choose with a tap or your voice.
With a list of contacts and devices, the communicate screen lets you easily place calls or Drop In to make announcements on your other Alexa devices. Common phrases will let you make announcements voice-free with a couple of taps.
The Play page shows your most current media played on any Alexa device, as well as a prominent play/pause button. Tap the track to start playing and bring up the Now Playing screen to show additional controls specific to the streaming service such as track skip and shuffle.
It should be noted, Echo Auto has received mixed reviews since its release, after dodgy destinations and errors when internet is interrupted. Hopefully these issues will be ironed out before Auto Mode drops. Echo Auto is $49.99 or can often be found bundled with other Amazon products. The update will start rolling out on Android and iOS in the coming weeks and can be found when paired with an Echo Auto or other supported Alexa Auto accessories. Auto Mode will be available in U.S., Canada, Germany, France, India, Italy, Spain, UK, Australia and New Zealand.