Alexa in my car…


Only the other day I was thinking how useful it would be to have Alexa in the car…

I use an Alexa device at home for timers, news, music, questions, and podcasts.

When driving, well before I start driving, I set up my phone via Bluetooth and then listen to music or podcasts through the car speakers. However if I want to skip a track or listen to another podcast, I either don’t skip, or I have to stop the car, park and then adjust the app to whatever I want to listen to.

It’s nice at home to say “Alexa, skip” or similar when listening to stuff.

Siri can do some stuff, but I find she isn’t as good as Alexa for some things. She’s great for sending texts for example via voice, but not quite as good as doing the music stuff, well I don’t subscribe to Apple Music is part of the issue, however I do have Amazon Prime.

So I was wondering if I could get Alexa for my car, but I generally think this whilst I am driving, so couldn’t search the web to find out.

However this week I saw Echo Auto on the Amazon website (well Alexa must have been listening).

What it does is it connects to the Alexa app on the phone and then plays through the car speakers.

Something else that looks useful is Waze integration, and I found this link on how to do that.

This looks like just what I was wanting…

However as we are still in lockdown and I haven’t actually filled my car with petrol since the middle of March. I am not driving long distances these days, which is when it would come in handy. Additionally, I am not doing too many short drives either.

I think it’s something I will add to my wish list and buy at a later date, once I start doing longer drives, which looks like it might be a few months away now, or even next year.

I’m sorry I can’t play that music….

I have been messing about with a few voice assistant hub including the Amazon Echo.

One feature of these devices is the ability to ask them to play music, either an individual track, an album, an artist, a playlist or even just a genre or decade.

If I ask Alexa to play a particular song, she delves not just into my personal music collection on the Amazon Music app but also what is available through my Prime subscription. If the song isn’t available I could either subscribe to Amazon Music streaming service, or purchase the song. The Alexa ecosystem is built around my Amazon account and the services available to me as a Prime subscriber.

What Alexa doesn’t know that I have quite a large music collection on iTunes. She can’t see it, access it or play it.

With Google Home I have connected a free Spotify account to it. This is one of the key features of these devices that you can connect services you already subscribe to, so you can control them via voice. Of course the reason I have a free Spotify account is that Google Home would much prefer I was connected to Google Music, and it certainly won’t let me connect to either my home iTunes library (where virtually all my music is) nor to Amazon Music. So when I ask Google Home to play a particular music track, she gets annoyed and says that she can’t as that is only available on Spotify Premium. Now Amazon Echo can play from Spotify, so some overlap there.

This is one of the challenges of these devices that they are quite reliant on subscriptions to other services. Apple’s HomePod only really works if you have an Apple Music subscription. You can stream Spotify to the Homepod using AirPlay, but you couldn’t use voice control to say “Hey Siri, play my favourite Spotify playlist”. That wouldn’t work.

So at the moment my main focus is on the Amazon Echo and linking it into Amazon Music through my Prime subscription.

I like the concept of voice control and for many features these devices work well, but they do tie you into their ecosystems.