The Amazon Echo Dot could turn your ride into a ‘smart car’

The Amazon Echo Dot has already proven itself as a handy little gadget to have around the home. The voice-controlled device can do anything from play favorite tunes to turn on the lights. Having that kind of convenience can be handy (or hand-free, in this case).

What if you could bring that convenience on the road? Well, some people decided to bring the Dot along to see what it could add to their driving experience.

YouTube user David Markley gave this a try back in 2016 and seemed pretty pleased with the results. He plugged in the Dot with the provided AC cord into the standard outlet in his car. However, for those who don’t have that feature, you can get a 12V/USB adaptor to plug it in. As for network connection, Markley could not get the Amazon Dot to pair with his Bluetooth. That didn’t stop him, though! He used his smartphone as a wi-fi hotspot. Voila!

More recently, Cork Gaines from Business Insider took the Dot for a spin when it went on sale during the most recent Amazon Prime Day. Gaines found the Dot to be a fun tool for creating an entertainment and communication hub in the car. All the helpful features the Dot does at home, it also tackled in the car, including:

  • Playing music through car speakers all with a voice command
  • Providing news and weather updates on command
  • Playing audiobooks
  • Controlling the house lights and temperature (if used with Nest and other smart home products)

That last trick is especially helpful if you think you might have forgotten to set the thermostat properly or turn the lights off.

However, the Amazon Echo Dot still has a few bugs to work out before it can truly be considered a comprehensive car companion. First, it doesn’t display the music it plays through the car speakers. For some, that’s not a big deal. However, others may find that a little frustrating. Also, Alexa doesn’t give turn-by-turn directions the way many cars or smartphone apps do. So the Dot will not navigate for you. Lastly, Gaines pointed out the Dot doesn’t work seamlessly with podcasts. It ties in with TuneIn, which doesn’t connect with many favorite podcasts. Plus, the playback settings won’t allow fast-forwarding, rewinding or speed playback adjustment.

So you need to weight the pros and cons before deciding to add the Amazon Dot as a permanent passenger in your car. Amazon likely will continue to advance its technology, but many cars already have hands-free entertainment systems. For those of us who love playing with technology, though, it might just be worth taking the Dot for a drive.