Developer derby: Amazon enters automotive arena with Alexa Auto voice-activated software

August 10, 2018

Forgot to turn your smart thermostat down at home before leaving? No problem, Amazon said Thursday. Just ask your car to do it. The e-commerce giant released an Alexa Auto Software Development Kit for new vehicles as a way to incorporate key functions of the voice-activated software into vehicle infotainment systems.

MORE: AAA study finds automaker infotainment systems more distracting than Apple CarPlay, Android Auto

According to The Verge, Amazon already has deals with BMW, Ford, Toyota, and others to integrate the Alexa system, but released the SDK as a way to spur widespread adoption from those holding out, especially given the popularity of smartphone projection systems like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Like the other systems, Alexa Auto will support phone calls, GPS navigation, local searches for points of interest, as well as media streaming, weather updates, smart home controls, and more. Just like your Alexa device at home, you’ll be able to stream music and other audio from Amazon Music, Audible, and iHeartRadio, all just by asking.

The announcement represents yet another entry into the automotive scene from established tech brands, and so far, users seem happy with the change, not to mention safer. As a AAA study found last month, smartphone projection programs were found to be significantly less distracting than OEM infotainment systems, with the ability to make phone calls up to 5 seconds faster and program a navigation destination up to 15 seconds faster.

Alexa’s relative popularity and easy-to-use voice command features seem a natural fit for use in cars, and should make its way into major vehicles by next year and beyond.

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