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Amazon Launches Echo Auto, Equips Cars with Smart and Connected Features

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【Summary】Like other connected devices in the Echo series, this compact gadget provides access to Alexa and a wide range of cloud-based services.

Michael Cheng    Sep 29, 2018 5:00 PM PT
Amazon Launches Echo Auto, Equips Cars with Smart and Connected Features
author: Michael Cheng   

E-commerce giant Amazon is making big moves in the smart hardware sector. Leveraging the robust capabilities of AI-powered virtual assistant Alexa, the business has launched several connected products designed to make life more organized and productive.

For the auto industry, Amazon recently announced the Echo Auto. Like other connected devices in the Echo series, this one provides access to Alexa and a wide range of services. During the launch of Echo Auto, the tech brand also took the time to introduce a connected microwave, smart speaker and compact units designed to update legacy equipment with modern features.

Powered by Alexa

The Echo Auto is packed with tech-savvy features. An eight-microphone array ensures quality voice recognition capabilities with minimal false readings. Individuals can choose to power the device using a micro-USB connection or cigarette lighter adapter. Audio output is provided by a 3.5mm auxiliary jack.

To engage the unit, users simply press the action button on the surface of the Echo Auto. There is also an option to turn off the microphone. A light bar notifies passengers about the status of the gadget. It's important to highlight that the Echo Auto requires connection to the internet for its cloud-based features. To facilitate this, individuals are advised to link their mobile phone (with internet service) to the device.

Echo Auto provides access to over 50,000 Alexa skills, as well as the ability to customize add-ons. From the car, people could generate to-do lists, create music playlists and ask for directions. As a gateway to other smart home devices and appliances, the unit could be used to activate lights at home, adjust the thermostat and more.

The gadget also provides access to Audible (requires a subscription), Amazon Music. Spotify and etc. With Alexa actively receiving upgrades and new features, the Echo Auto will probably become increasingly useful in the future.

Availability and Invite-only Info

Interestingly, Amazon made it difficult to get your hands on the Echo Auto. At the moment, the unit has launched in the US; and requires a special invitation to acquire. For those with an invite, the smart device will cost $25. When the car gadget goes on full release, it will come with a price tag of $50. This price does not include internet connectivity services.

As for getting an invitation to test and purchase the Echo Auto, the only thing you have to do is head over to the official Amazon website, search for the product and request for an invite. Due to its initial limited release, requesting for an invite does not guarantee a reservation. Amazon will inform individuals invited to participate in the early release via email.   

"It's not the first time Amazon has done a limited launch of a hardware product—several Echo products have seen limited availability at first," said Lauren Goode from Wired.

"Also, this may be one product that the company wants to test with a small user group before it has all of us shouting at Alexa from behind the wheel."

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