Amazon Is Building the Android Auto Rival Google Never Wanted

Alexa Auto Mode on iPhone 7 photos
Photo: Amazon
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Right now, the modern experience behind the wheel comes down to just two choices, namely Android Auto and CarPlay, though the adoption of new projects, including here Android Automotive, is slowly increasing as more carmakers embrace them.
But without a doubt, using Android Auto and CarPlay is for most people out there a natural thing to do, as the two come bundled with their phones, and theoretically, simply pairing the mobile devices with the head units should be enough to run them.

Amazon, however, hopes that you’ll soon give a try to Alexa as well as the company has revamped its mobile app for Android and iPhone with a massive update specifically aimed at drivers. It’s more of an alternative to Android Auto for phones, and there’s no doubt that Amazon is already exploring the ways it can bring this experience to the larger screen inside the car.

Alexa now sports a so-called Auto Mode that comprises four different screens, each with a very straightforward role. First of all, it’s the Home Screen, which provides access to frequent actions, shortcuts to play and pause music, navigate to home or work, and start a call. All options are displayed with a touch-optimized layout and they can also be controlled with voice.

The bar at the bottom of the screen lets you switch to the second page, which is called Navigate and allows you to use your preferred app, be it Google Maps, Apple Maps, or Waze, to get directions to a specific location. Of course, you can use voice input to ask Alexa to run the app and set up navigation, but also to look for new places nearby.

The third screen is called Communicate and makes it possible to start a call, configure a Drop-In for Amazon, and or make an announcement to one of your contacts. Everything works the same, either with touch input or voice commands.

And last but not least, it’s the Play screen that comes down to the music player, and Alexa again offers a touch-optimized interface, with voice support allowing you to control the playback wirelessly.

Everything has been designed to be easy to use while driving and to reduce distraction, and in many ways, it looks and feels just like Android Auto for phones, only that Alexa is now at the core of everything. The new Auto Mode is live in just a series of countries for now, including the U.S., the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Italy, and Germany.

Alexa is also getting a second feature called Start My Commute, only in the U.S. this time, which allows the app to run a user-defined routine that can include playing your music, speaking the news, getting traffic updates, or hearing the weather forecast, all by saying “Alexa, start my commute.
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About the author: Bogdan Popa
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Bogdan keeps an eye on how technology is taking over the car world. His long-term goals are buying an 18-wheeler because he needs more space for his kid’s toys, and convincing Google and Apple that Android Auto and CarPlay deserve at least as much attention as their phones.
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