Amazon wants you to have an Echo device for every possible use, so that you can use Alexa in every possible instance you can think of. It's got the home pretty well covered, but now it's going out on the road.
Enter Echo Auto, Amazon's big play to turn your dumb car into a smart one. Amazon has already worked with manufacturers to add Alexa into cars. For example, the Audi E-Tron electric car has Alexa built in. But if you can't afford a brand new electric car, the Echo Auto is your solution.
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It's a little square that sits on your dash, and can connect to your car either via auxiliary jack or Bluetooth. It'll use your smartphone's data connection to beam into the cloud to get all that lovely Alexa information. You will need to connect to your car's 12V power outlet or USB to power it.
Dave Limp, Amazon's senior vice president of devices and services, says the company had to rethink its microphone array technology for the car. That's because in a car there's a lot more ambient noise, like music and air conditioning and road noise. Thus, the tiny Echo Auto has eight microphones in an effort to better hear you.
So what can you actually do with Echo Auto? Pretty much everything you can do with Alexa elsewhere. You can listen to your morning briefing on your way to work, your favorite music and podcasts via services that already work with Alexa. Amazon has also added new features that make more sense with Alexa on the go.
For example, it's made Alexa location aware. So now you can create routines based on your location. So if you're leaving home you can have Alexa set off a number of things, like locking a door and playing your podcast. It's also gaining the ability to add pauses in time into routines. So if you want your lights to turn off 45 minutes after you leave home, you can do that too.
Like the Echo Look, Amazon is not rolling the Echo Auto out to everyone at first. You have to be invited to buy it. While it'll retail for $49.99 when it releases, there's a special invite price of $24.99. Invitees will get their Echo Autos by the end of the year.