There’s nothing quite like a product that actually works. I tested the Amazon Echo Auto recently and came away so impressed I bought a second one for my wife. It’s billed as a smart way to talk to the Alexa bot, but it’s also a smart way to play music.
For starters -- the setup is super simple. The thin, black device weighs only 1.6 ounces and it’s about the size of your palm. The Echo Auto syncs to your iPhone or Android device using the Alex app, and I had no problems connecting up.
In my 2009 Toyota Corolla (don’t ask -- it’s really practical), I used the included mount and snapped it onto a vent. My car doesn’t use Bluetooth, so I connected the included 3.5mm cable to my car stereo. And, I used the included USB cable and cigarette lighter adapter for power. In about 10 minutes I was asking Alexa to play the new Wilco album.
Why do I need Alexa for a ride-along? For me, it’s all about music. I am super-strict about the hands-free operation of any device, so I don’t ever use my phone while driving. Yet, I love music and I tend to have eclectic taste. I like to play a lot of different songs but doing that is usually troublesome. It was cool asking Alexa to play the new albums by Wilco and Coldplay without having to click anything. And, since my Corolla is a bit dated in terms of technology, it made it seem like I was driving a new car. (Many newer Ford models, for example, work with Alexa on their own, no adapters or Echo devices needed.)
Of course, you can also ask for directions. On an Android phone, this is smooth and easy. You simply ask Alexa for directions and the bot turns those duties over to the Google Assistant and Google Maps. On my iPhone, I had to ask a passenger to tap a confirmation, which is not an Amazon issue -- it is an Apple requirement.
Another important thing to note: The Echo Auto works great when there’s road noise. I even cranked up the heat -- I could barely hear myself think, but the Echo Auto responded normally to avoid prompts. I asked about the weather, set a reminder, and even called a friend who has an Amazon Echo Show. everything worked perfectly. You don’t need to have eclectic music taste, but that was the show-stealer for me.
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