Amazon Echo Auto (2nd Gen) review: Alexa wasn’t born to travel
The Amazon Echo Auto is a car accessory that only die-hard Alexa users should get
“I can’t figure out exactly why you should get the Amazon Echo Auto.”
New clean design
Mic pickup works fine
Nobody needs Alexa in the car
Other Bluetooth dongles are cheaper
You need the Alexa app running on your phone
Alexa has easily become one of the smartest and most useful digital assistants around, helping you find information on the web, control smart home devices, and more. But while the likes of google assistant and Siri are easily accessible outside the home thanks to their native smartphone support, Alexa strives to be helpful once you walk out the front door. Amazon, however, is trying to change that, by targeting the car.
Amazon Echo Auto was first launched in 2019 and this year it got an update with a completely new design. Since 2019, Alexa has also improved from what it was in 2019.
But the Echo Auto faces its own challenges. In fact, despite having used it for a while, I can’t exactly understand why you should get one.
What is Amazon Echo Auto?
Before trying to figure out why you might want an Echo Auto, it’s probably worth knowing what it really is. The Echo Auto is basically a little Alexa speaker, designed to fit in your car and connect via Bluetooth or a 3.5mm cable, then connect to your phone via Bluetooth. It is powered via USB and comes with a cigarette lighter adapter for that purpose. It has an array of microphones (eight in total) that pick up your voice from across the cabin, so you can hear your voice relatively easily.
The way you can access the data is through your phone, and as such, the Alexa app must be open and running in the background on your phone to use the Echo Auto. If not, the Echo Auto becomes practically useless.
An extra smart Bluetooth dongle
In essence, the Echo Auto could be useful in older cars that don’t have Bluetooth. That’s because it can plug into a car’s 3.5mm audio jack and then act as a Bluetooth dongle, bridging the gap between your phone and your car.
But that’s not the reason you’d buy the Echo Auto. After all, there are tons of great and cheap Bluetooth dongles for older cars.
Alexa is smart… but I wish she was smarter
The real reason to buy the Echo Auto is if you love alexa so much so that you’ll want to be able to use it in your car, instead of the Google Assistant and Siri already on your phone. If that’s you, and you’re For real connected to the Amazon ecosystem, you probably like the Echo Auto quite a bit. But everyone else will be a little disappointed.
Let’s start with the positives. In the car, Alexa is pretty good at helping you find nearby locations, like gas stations, as well as getting information from the web and, of course, controlling your Alexa-based smart home devices. The Echo Auto is also great for accessing other Amazon services, like Amazon Music.
But if you don’t regularly use Amazon services, you will run into some problems. Sure, you can change the defaults, and you’ll probably remember to change your default music service when you set up the device. But as you start to use it more, you’ll run into more and more services that it doesn’t work with. Who uses Alexa’s calendar?
That’s not to mention the fact that while Alexa was once one of the leaders in the voice assistant space, these days, it just slides by. He’s not breaking any records, and more often than not, the Google Assistant is smarter and more helpful. Siri often even trumps Alexa these days.
If you’re really connected to the Alexa ecosystem and just want a way to access it plus, then the Echo Auto is probably worth buying. But everyone else should continue to use Google Assistant or Siri in their car for now, especially if they’re already connected to all the services they know and love.