Four years after the original launched in 2018, Amazon has announced a new version of the Echo Auto.
Revealed alongside a whole host of new products at Amazon’s annual hardware event this week, the second-generation Echo Auto is smaller than before and includes an adhesive mounting plate instead of an air vent mount, broadening installation options.
The device connects to your smartphone and car stereo system. It receives an internet connection for powering the Alexa voice assistant and streaming music from the former, then sends that audio to the latter, essentially bringing Alexa to almost any car.
Despite its compact size, there are five microphones to help hear your Alexa commands and questions over the ambient sounds of the road, wind and air conditioning, and music that might already be playing.
Just like other Alexa devices, there’s a status light that shines blue when the assistant is listening or processing, and red when the microphone mute button is pressed.
Once connected, the Echo Auto can stream music from Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon Music, among others, handle phone calls and messages through Alexa, control your smart home devices – handy if you spot you’ve left an upstairs light on when setting off – and generally work like any other Echo smart speaker.
There’s also a ‘follow me’ command, where streaming music will switch from an Echo speaker playing in the home, to the Echo Auto in the car, as you move from one to the other. Navigation instructions and hands-free calls also switch in the same way.
The new Echo Auto is priced at $54.99 and, like its predecessor, isn’t available outside of the US at launch. The original came to the UK later, and is currently offered half-price at £24.99, but there’s no sign yet of when the new model will arrive here.
The jury is still out on whether many people actually need the Echo Auto, since so many cars now have Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, which are both capable of handling voice recognition and music streaming. But for owners of older vehicles, adding Alexa for $55 may well seem like good value.