Voice assistants such as Google Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri are here to stay and are slowly taking over most routine tasks such as turning on the lights, AC, TV or streaming music in the house. Now, they are invading the car as well.
Google already has Android Auto and Apple had CarPlay that works on most infotainment systems these days, which had basic voice assistant functionality already built in.
Now, these assistants are getting smarter. Google, at its recent I/O developer conference took things to the next level. Now Assistant will work even if you don’t have Android Auto in your car. Your mobile phone can go completely hands-free and perform tasks on the go without you needing to glance at the phone.
Besides that, Android Auto has also got a makeover. It gets the new Dark Theme that looks a lot sleeker. It supports many more apps on the go, and all of these including Spotify, Waze, Podcasts etc can be controlled by Google Assistant.
Google Assistant has become smarter in the car. It could always read out messages and take replies, but now it can also alert the driver via voice when a call comes through, reading out who is calling. The driver can reject or answer the call also by voice, without having to press any buttons.
Google is also working with auto manufacturers to incorporate car functions in some cars such as controlling the AC temperature or even remotely operating the lights or engine.
However, there are others that also do these functions.
MG Motors upcoming Hector SUV will come with its own assistant. This can interact in a very similar manner to Google Assistant with the driver.
It can pull up navigation, give expected times of arrival, place calls and perform car functions like controlling the AC, locking the car or starting the engine.
Hyundai too will have its own connected car system called Bluelink in the upcoming Venue SUV. However, it’s not clear if this has a voice assistant built in like the Hector.
Hyundai’s system can take voice commands for various car functions and in the event of a crash, it can automatically notify emergency numbers.
This function is similar to the system MG Motor has and is also there in Ford’s Sync system.
Besides that the system also auto store’s navigation information and will plot your route depending on your schedule. It can also be shared with other users, who can share navigation information directly to the car through the app.
And later this year Amazon will be bringing in Amazon Echo Auto. The unit launched earlier this year in the US and shipments have begun. It will likely come to India later in the year.
Amazon Echo Auto brings Alexa to the car. It performs the usual functions of streaming music and providing navigation directions, but not sure how it can pip Google on this one. It can also makes calls through the Alexa app.
However, if you already have the Alexa app on your Smartphone and own Echo devices in the house, you can already use these functions. Not sure how adding an extra bit of hardware in the car will make things any easier.