A new trend in the automotive field is adding a smart speaker to/in your car. As most of you already know, most newer cars come equipped with an integrated voice assistant. However, these usually only control specific automotive functions such as climate control and navigation. What I will be discussing below are the pro’s and con’s of adding an Alexa or Google smart speaker. (Hopefully, the industry will produce smart automotive speakers capable of accessing multiple platforms).
An integrated smart speaker would be considered by most redundant if you currently have Apple CarPlay or Google Android built-in to your car stereo. Most would consider Apple’s Siri the least accurate so the addition of Alexa or Google should be considered. If you currently use your smartphone as a smart speaker, the addition of a dedicated smart speaker will provide louder/clearer interaction, but the addition will take up space. Mounting/position of the devices should be taken into consideration. A benefit is the fact that these devices (usually) connect to your car’s power supply and don’t need to be charged. SAFETY is always paramount!
First, the connection: Bluetooth or wired. Although wireless connections via Bluetooth seem to work well, I always prefer a wired connection. This eliminates connection loss which we all have experienced at one time or another: probably with wireless/Bluetooth earbuds.
Even though a wired connection takes an extra step, I’d argue that this is a small price to pay for a consistent connection and little or no inconvenience afterwards since all communication will take place “hands-free”.
(image credit – businessinsider.com)
Second, the platform. As is the past, I would recommend sticking with the ecosystem you currently use since you will be accessing data such as contact addresses, phone numbers and your calendar.
If you have an older car with limited technology, a smart speaker can be a great way to add hands-free interaction in an affordable manner with options starting under $100.
Also consider DATA FEES, all smart speakers need to connect to the internet. This will usually be through your smartphone and can use up data quickly if you don’t have an unlimited cellular plan.
Technology, especially smart speakers seem to be everywhere. Security should also be considered since no one knows for sure how these “always listening/ potentially always recording” devices can be used (against) you. Also, be sure to check your local and state laws regarding the use of such devices during driving. It seems like everything is being recorded: video and audio! But that’s a story for another time.
Finally, DISTRACTION! Adding a smart speaker to your car, especially if your car already has a voice assistant, can be a huge distraction. I always use hands free communication when driving BUT still find myself, at times, “in-another-world”. Perhaps a better course of action would be to dis-connect (almost) entirely from the outside world and enjoy your drive. Another option is to pull over to take care of your business/communication. This would be safer, more enjoyable and definitely less stressful!