Amazon has successfully turned Alexa into a capable home automation and assistant platform, but it's about to branch out from your home. Amazon and Ford are partnering to bring Alexa to the car. Not only can you control your car remotely, you can use Alexa commands while driving it.
The video below is a little cringy at times, but it does a good job showing some ways you could take advantage of Alexa. It has so many home automation features built-in, some of them are bound to overlap with the car. For example, you can open smart garage doors, control the lights in your home, and so on. There are also Amazon-specific features supported via Alexa while driving. You can queue up audio books or music from Amazon's cloud, or add items to your shopping cart. General search functionality and navigation queries are also supported via Alexa.
For cars that support it, you can also remotely start/stop the engine, lock/unlock the doors, check fuel levels, and so on. These features will come first to the Ford Focus Electric, Fusion Energi, and C-MAX Energi. The other Alexa commands will come to cars with Ford SYNC 3 this summer.
LAS VEGAS, Jan. 4, 2017 – Millions of consumers who befriended Amazon Alexa over the last year, including many who just received an Echo or Echo Dot as a holiday gift, will soon be able to experience Alexa like never before from a Ford vehicle. A new collaboration between Ford Motor Company and Amazon is making this capability possible.
The Alexa integration – the most comprehensive ever in a vehicle – allows Ford owners to play and resume audiobooks, order items on Amazon, search for and transfer local destinations to the in-car navigation system, and more. From home, Ford vehicle owners will be able to remote start, lock or unlock doors, and get vehicle information using voice commands.
“Ford and Amazon are aligned around a vision that your voice should be the primary way to interface with your favorite devices and services,” said Don Butler, executive director, Ford Connected Vehicle and Services. “Customers will be able to start their vehicles from home, and manage smart home features while on the road – making life easier.”
Ford will roll out its Alexa integration in two phases. The first, available later this month, connects you to your car from the comfort of home through Alexa devices such as Amazon Echo, Echo Dot and Amazon Tap. The second, expected this summer, allows you to tap into a broad set of Alexa skills using your voice while driving – helping you keep your eyes on the road and hands on the wheel.
“We’re excited to work with Ford to enhance the driver experience both inside and outside of the vehicle,” said Steve Rabuchin, vice president, Amazon Alexa. “We believe voice is the future, and this is particularly true in cars. The ability to use your voice to control your smart home, access entertainment, manage to-do lists and more makes for an extraordinary driving experience. We can’t wait for Ford customers to try this out.”
Alexa on the go
Beginning this summer, Ford drivers with SYNC® 3 will be able to ask Alexa to read weather reports, play music, check news, add items to shopping lists and more – all from their car. For instance, you could ask Alexa to add milk or batteries to your shopping list without ever picking up a pen.
This industry-first in-car capability through Ford SYNC 3 AppLink™ simply requires drivers tap the voice recognition button on the steering wheel, then say “Alexa,” followed by a question or command. Ford is currently beta-testing this experience with employees.
Inside the vehicle, drivers can ask Alexa to locate a desired destination. Alexa will use the vehicle location to find nearby businesses. For example, customers could say, “Alexa, find the nearest Italian restaurant.” Once the driver chooses the desired destination, Alexa can transfer the address to the SYNC 3 navigation system.
Customers can also continue experiencing their favorite books from the road. Using Whispersync for Voice, Alexa will switch to an Audible audiobook recording to resume reading where the driver left off.
Customers can also access many Alexa smart home devices to control lighting, security systems, thermostats and more from the vehicle.
Alexa at home
Ford Focus Electric, Fusion Energi and C-MAX Energi owners will be first to access home-to-car capability using MyFord® Mobile technology.
Through Alexa, Ford plug-in electric vehicle owners can easily control their vehicle from home using Amazon Echo, Echo Dot or Amazon Tap. Speaking to Alexa through one of these devices, they can:
- Start or stop the engine
- Lock or unlock doors
- Check range and charge status
- Learn fuel level
- Obtain a vehicle mileage summary
At home, interactions with Alexa could include:
User: “Alexa, ask MyFord Mobile to lock my car.”
Alexa: “Sending lock command to your car.”
User: “Alexa, ask MyFord Mobile to start my car.”
Alexa: “Sending start command to your car.”
User: “Alexa, ask MyFord Mobile for my range.”
Alexa: “Your vehicle is 83 percent charged. Electric range is 17 miles, fuel range is 216 miles and overall range is 233 miles.”
Ford is working on adding Alexa home-to-car integration for vehicles with SYNC Connect in the future.
Click here for a video demonstration of Amazon Alexa integration with Ford vehicles.
The collaboration to integrate Alexa into the car introduced Amazon to Ford’s AppLink software, which provides the protocol for smartphone apps to communicate with Ford SYNC 3.
AppLink is now built on open source SmartDeviceLink software. This burgeoning standard was created in 2013 when Ford contributed the original AppLink code to encourage other automakers to adopt and use the software to link compatible smartphone apps with their own connectivity systems.
Earlier today, Ford and Toyota, the first automaker to announce adoption of SmartDeviceLink, announced formation of the SmartDeviceLink Consortium with four other automakers and several automotive suppliers as initial members. Amazon announced it will join the consortium to expand the opportunity of Alexa in the car.
The SmartDeviceLink Consortium will help further improve the open source software for all members, and give app developers and service providers expanded opportunities to reach consumers across multiple automaker product lines.