It’s not just about the convenience of hands-free calls and texts, or playing your favourite music, podcasts and audiobooks without taking your eyes off the road; it’s also about asking for directions and checking traffic conditions. Plus Alexa can handle other tasks such as reading the weather forecast, checking your calendar, adding items to your shopping list and controlling smart home gear from afar such as heating and lights.
Connecting to your phone gives Alexa access to GPS so you can even ask her to do things based on your location, such as reminding you to put out the bins when you get home.
The downside of relying on an iPhone is that the Alexa app needs to be running in the background before the Echo Auto will connect. Worse yet, ask Alexa for directions on an iPhone and she launches Apple maps, but you need to tap an onscreen notification and then ‘Go’ to begin; making a mockery of the whole hands-free concept compared to asking Siri. Things run more smoothly on Android, launching Google Maps.
These kinds of frustrations remind you how clever your phone’s built-in smart assistant really is. Unless you’re wedded to Alexa — and depending on what you need to do — you might find it easier to mount your phone on the dash and talk to Siri or Google Assistant hands-free when you hit the road.