Alexa has found herself in a bunch of new places in the last two years — TVs, glasses, light switches, mirrors and a bevy of other smart products. Another product Amazon’s assistant has begun to appear in is the one place where a hands-free assistant makes the most sense: in the car.Ford, Volkswagen, BMW and Toyota have all announced plans to integrate Alexa into their infotainment systems. But if you don’t plan to buy a new car anytime soon, you’re not totally out of luck. Currently, there are plenty of ways to integrate Alexa into your daily commute right now, and none of them will break the bank like a new car.
Navigation company Garmin partnered with Amazon last year to bring to life the Garmin Speak. It’s effectively an Alexa speaker that sticks to your windshield and will speak driving directions to you. Using the small OLED display, it will also give you a tiny visual preview of your upcoming driving instructions.You will need to download the Garmin Speak app (Android, iOS) and connect the device to your phone using Bluetooth for the Alexa service to work.
Just like any Alexa speaker, you can tell the Garmin Speak to stream music or play your audiobooks. You can ask it for the weather, use third-party skills and build a shopping list, all hands-free while you drive. Best of all, provided your car has Bluetooth, the Garmin Speak can route its audio through your car’s speakers.At $150 (£110 or AU$200 converted), the Garmin Speak is one of the more expensive aftermarket installations for adding Alexa to your car.
Rova Viva by Anker
A much more affordable option comes from mobile accessory maker Anker, which also dabbles in third-party Alexa speakers such as the Zolo Halo and Eufy Genie. For the car, Anker has made the Roav Viva. It plugs directly into a 12-volt socket and provides two PowerIQ USB ports for charging.The Roav Viva also connects to your phone via an app (Android, iOS) using Bluetooth. And you can use it for voice-guided directions using Google Maps, Apple Maps or Waze. But unlike the Garmin Speak, the Viva doesn’t have a built-in speaker. But it will route all the audio through your car’s speaker system via Bluetooth.The Roav Viva will set you back $50 (about £35 or AU$65 converted).
Speak Music Muse
While the Speak Music Muse looks like your generic Bluetooth adapter for a car, it actually comes packed with Alexa. It mounts to the dash of your car via a magnetic disk that you can stick to almost any surface.As with the Roav Viva and Garmin Speak, you’ll need to download the Muse Auto companion app from Google Play or the App Store to connect the device to your phone using Bluetooth and to power the Alexa services. It, too, plays its audio through your car’s sound system via Bluetooth.After it’s setup, it will work just like any Alexa speaker. Say the wake word to make the Muse listen, then fire off a command. This works with music streaming, skills and most requests you’d ask your Alexa speakers at home.The Speak Music Muse costs about $70 (£65 in the UK, or AU$120 converted), so it’s not the cheapest option available, and it’s missing the built-in charging ports found on the Roav Viva.
By far the cheapest option on the market is the ZeroTouch from Logitech.Unlike any of the other options, the ZeroTouch doesn’t require any power. Instead, it’s just a magnetic air vent mount. Stick the provided metal disk to the back of your phone and it’ll cling to the air vent mount.For it to work, however, you’ll need the ZeroTouch app, which is only available on Android. Once set up, just hold your hand up to your phone, then you can begin issuing commands to Alexa.The best part? The Logitech ZeroTouch will only set you back about $14 (£8.50 in the UK, or AU$16 converted).
Just an Echo Dot…
If you already have an Echo Dot lying around and you’re not sure what to do with it, you don’t actually need to spend any money. Simply plug the Dot into a USB charger in your car. It will power up when you start the engine.The catch is that you’ll have to connect the Dot to your phone’s hotspot for it to work. But you can also pair the Dot to your car stereo via Bluetooth, so you can enjoy the audio through your car’s speakers.
I would recommend trying this before buying a more permanent installation of Alexa in your car. It’s not as polished, but is an essentially free way for you to test and see if you would even like having Alexa along for the ride.If you don’t like Alexa powering on and off with your car or if you’d like to just continue to bring Alexa everywhere you go, you could also opt for the $20 (about £15 or AU$25 converted) Fremo Evo Plus battery case for the Echo Dot.
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