Auto Mode is a new feature coming to Amazon’s Alexa app that turns your phone into a “driver-friendly display” when used with Alexa auto accessories like the Echo Auto, the company says. As well as offering access to Alexa’s typical voice commands, it includes large touchscreen icons that provide access to features like directions, music playback, and making calls. Amazon says the mode will be available in the Alexa app on iOS and Android in the coming weeks “when paired to an Echo Auto or other supported Alexa Auto accessories.”
The driving-focused mode consists of four screens. There’s a Navigation screen which provides shortcuts to favorite locations and will link out to your default navigation app for directions (saying “Alexa, go back to the Alexa app” switches you back to Amazon’s app).
Meanwhile, the Communicate screen gives shortcuts to place calls, Drop In, or make announcements from other Alexa devices (helpful for letting your family know you’re on the way home, Amazon says). The Play screen gives access to media playback. Finally, the Home screen provides shortcuts to frequently used actions.
Amazon says the new Auto Mode is designed to work with devices like the Echo Auto, a small Bluetooth-enabled device that was Amazon’s last big attempt to get Alexa into your car. However, when we reviewed it for ourselves, we found Alexa wasn’t great at helping with the kinds of queries we had while driving.
The Echo Auto failed to pick the right destinations when we asked for directions, and it generally got confused when our internet was interrupted. It’s not clear that these issues will be entirely fixed with the companion app’s new Auto Mode, but having an on-screen interface could make it clearer which options are available to you.
Amazon says that Auto Mode will be available in the US, Canada, Germany, France, India, Italy, Spain, UK, Australia, and New Zealand.