Alexa in your car: What is Echo Auto and how does it work?

Andy WellsFreelance Writer
Yahoo News UK
The Amazon Echo Auto smart voice-operated device for vehicles and cars has been released in the UK. (Getty)
The Amazon Echo Auto smart voice-operated device for vehicles and cars has been released in the UK. (Getty)

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Amazon has launched its first Amazon Echo device for use in a car in the UK and Ireland, as it attempts to bring access to its virtual assistant to a wider space.

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The Echo Auto, which has gone on sale for £49.99, gives drivers hands-free control, much like the traditional Echo and Echo Dot devices.

What does the Echo Auto do?

Users can use Alexa voice commands to control music, check the news, make phone calls or check their schedule without taking their hands off the wheel or eyes off the road.

Drivers can also make shopping lists while on the move, as well as turning on lights at home before getting there.

According to the technology giant, the device has an eight-microphone set-up designed to enable it to pick up voice commands, despite what it calls challenging in-car acoustics, and will be able to hear commands over music, air conditioning and ambient road noise.

The Echo Auto has an eight-microphone set-up designed to enable it to pick up voice commands. (Getty)
The Echo Auto has an eight-microphone set-up designed to enable it to pick up voice commands. (Getty)

How does it work?

Echo Auto plugs into a car's 12V power outlet or built-in USB port and connects to the in-car stereo via either audio jack cable or Bluetooth to enable the use of voice assistant Alexa inside the vehicle.

The device gets internet connectivity by connecting to a user's smartphone and the Alexa app and using its existing data plan.

How safe is it?

While there do not appear to be any reported accidents related to the Echo Auto, Amazon has stipulated that drivers should “pay full attention to the road”. It adds: “Do not allow interactions with this device or Alexa to distract you while driving.

“You are solely responsible for safely operating your vehicle and complying with all applicable laws regarding use of electronic devices while driving.”

Echo Auto plugs into a car's 12V power outlet or built-in USB port and connects to the in-car stereo via either audio jack cable or Bluetooth. (Getty)
Echo Auto plugs into a car's 12V power outlet or built-in USB port and connects to the in-car stereo via either audio jack cable or Bluetooth. (Getty)

Amazon also warns that the device should be mounted correctly before driving, away from any airbag compartments and anywhere that it could obstruct your view “or interfere with the controls of the vehicle or rear-view mirror”.

What does Amazon say about the device?

Amazon devices EU vice-president Eric Saarnio said of the new product: "Customers tell us they want to take Alexa with them everywhere they go. We're delighted to offer them an easy way to add Alexa to the car they already own.

"With Echo Auto, customers can now enjoy the convenience of Alexa on the road, giving them the ability to play music, make calls, continue their audiobook, play games, manage their reminders and more-all just by using their voice."

Buy it: Echo Auto | £49.99 from Amazon

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