Monday, August 19, 2019

Echo Auto – Alexa In My Car – And Our RV!

I finally received my invite to try Amazon’s Echo Auto – and it is very interesting. 

The easy part was connecting the Amazon Auto Echo to the car. Received it on Thursday and by Monday I was ready to teach a Mastery Class. 

Install note’s: 
  • You will need a 12 Volt outlet (formally a cigarette lighter outlet) or a USB power connection in your car. 
  • You must have the Alexa App on your phone for the initial installation of Echo Auto, then close the app. 
    • I made the mistake of having both the Alexa app and my Amazon Music app opened as I ‘assumed’ they had to be – not so. It can cause confusion. 
  • You do have to have your phone connected to the car’s Bluetooth (if you are in a car – more on this later) as this is how Echo Auto connects to the car speaker system
    • You can connect using the Audio cable which comes with the device (3.5mm to 3.5mm). 

Once connected I was on a roll. First it was playing music, “Alexa shuffle ‘Playlist name’ from Amazon Music” and she answers just like she does in the house,
Installed in a 2013 Town & Country
“Playing ‘playlist’ from Walter’s Amazon Music Account”. 

OK got the music down how about reading from my Audible account? No problem here – at least at the beginning. I mentioned the title and she picked up where I last was listening. 

From here I made a phone call, sent a text message, and received a phone call – ALL HANDS FREE. This is the neat part, I did not have to touch any device to have all my requests completed. 

Initially patience is required (should have said this in the install notes). I am not good at dictation, I just talk. Alexa, not being my wife, does not interpret well my intentions (well my wife doesn’t always get this right either 😊). The music was easy, the phone calls and text messages require me to think in advance what I want to ask Alexa to do - and then don’t change my mind in the middle of a sentence, which I tend to do. 

My worse time came with Audible. I was trying to open books and go to a specific place. I get confused and pick the wrong chapter and then must change the chapter and at one point ask to go to the beginning of a chapter. Poor Alexa, she's a trooper. 

All in the learning or in the Alexa training of Me. 

I did ask for directions and Alexa did bring up Google maps on my Android OS phone and away we went. The Voice for directions kicked in but not until after we got started. I could handle that. 

I am really liking the Echo Auto and more because it is totally hand free. 

One note: I have other auto devices and once you start the car moving you cannot make physical changes, "Do Not Touch While Car Is In Motion". If I am the only one in the car this is not really a bad thing, however, my wife is often in the car with me and I still have to stop the car to make the change. With Echo Auto there is a option for “I am the Passenger” and then the other person can make changes while moving. Still, all the changes I had to make revolved around voice, and this is a good thing. 

If something doesn’t work as planned, “Alexa Stop”, wait a bit and try again. Eventually you will get trained. 

My RV Experience. 

One thing that is not talked about by Amazon is the potential for use in other places. Over the weekend I took the device into our RV (a 5th wheel trailer) and, via the phone, connected Echo Auto to the RV and the RV’s Bluetooth system. We have power in the RV so I used the USB connection. We now have great music in the RV as well as everything else that Alexa does at home; weather, radio, music, answer questions, alarms, reminders. Without a hub we cannot connect light bulbs, but I am working on that. 

Only 5 days in and I’m liking this product. Reminds me of an old line I heard somewhere, “Don’t leave home without it”. 

A history note with Alexa. We asked for our first invite to Amazon Echo in later 2014 and we received our first Amazon Echo device in January 2015 and it still is working well in the Kitchen. We are an Amazon Echo household (or Condo-hold). Alexa is in every room (except the bathroom’s) and in some rooms there are multiple devices. We have Show, Spot, and Dots, we have stereo Dots, and Fire Stick (2), as well as a Dash. They are connected to Stereo systems, pole lamps, end table lamps, and at Christmas the decorations and railroad train. In the RV I am using the original Tap as a speaker beyond the built in Bluetooth - for outside parties and such.