Even if we're not spending as much time as usual in our vehicles these days, it's still important to drive safely when interacting with technology. Google has been working on a car mode for the Assistant since last year, and Google Maps is rolling out a special UI for in-car use as well. Now Amazon is getting in on the fun with Alexa Auto Mode and a new routine for commuting.
Auto Mode for Alexa is basically just like Android Auto running on a phone. It changes your phone's screen to be more road ready with bigger touch targets and text, while providing access to navigation, media, and communication functions. Since Alexa isn't baked into most Android devices, the Auto Mode is a little rough around the edges. When you start navigation, for example, it will kick you into your default Maps app — Amazon says you can return to Auto Mode via a quick voice command. The new mode is rolling out to mobile users in the U.S., Canada, Germany, France, India, Italy, Spain, UK, Australia, and New Zealand over the coming weeks.
There's also a new routine that's rolling out soon to US customers. It allows users to hear weather, traffic, news, and more by simply telling Alexa to "start my commute." Alexa can even ask whether you prefer to listen to your favorite tunes or an audiobook. Like other routines, this one can be customized in the Alexa app.
It's great to see more options to help users drive with (arguably) less distractions, even if the experience isn't quite as seamless as a dedicated car head unit or an Alexa-enabled vehicle. Amazon is doing some neat things in this space, even allowing customers to pay for gas with a quick voice command at certain Exxon and Mobil stations across the US.