So a few months ago when I got my Tesla Model 3, I installed an Amazon Echo Dot in vehicle to provide Spotify services and the spate of Alexa services available through our account. The way this works is that the Dot is powered by the USB and pairs to a WiFi hotspot running on a Samsung Tablet we own. The tablet connects to our cellular service and as long as we’re in range of a tower, we have all of our Alexa services. The only problem we have is that the wifi hotspot needs to be turned on manually (and turned off manually) and this of course depletes the battery on the tablet. On several occasions, I forgot to turn the hotspot off and came back to a depleted tablet. Of course I have a MicroUSB connector in vehicle to charge the tablet back up but it’s still a minor inconvenience. Of course there is now a better, more seamless way, to get what I want: The Echo Auto (which just left beta).
The Echo Auto pairs seamlessly with my cellular phone via the Alexa application. Once it’s paired via Bluetooth, all Alexa commands go through my Tesla Model 3’s onboard stereo. This effectively uses the Alexa application as a hotspot and prevents the problem of leaving the hotspot on. Now I still have that option if I choose but this set up is quite a bit easier and less error prone. The biggest problem I had so far has to do with where to mount the Echo Auto. The bracket included is designed to sit in a vent. Well the vent in the Tesla Model 3 is not very accommodating. For the moment, I’m using the vent behind the center console in the passenger area. While this works, the MicroUSB wire is a bit short so I’m using a USB Extender. All-in-all, it seems to work. I may get a longer extension cable and if I’m feeling particularly handy, I might see about hiding the USB wire to make the experience look snazzier. But for the moment, it works and does what I expect. My Spotify account on my phone is not the unlimited version but my wife’s is so I expect she’ll use the feature a bit more than me.
The next step will be to see what Alexa skills might be nice for the vehicle. Being hands free is certainly safer than interacting with the phone at a stoplight. Nevertheless, I look forward to a longer-term experience. The Echo Auto retails for $50 on Amazon, though I was able to get it as part of the beta program at half price. It also is accommodating of vehicles besides Tesla Model 3, but for now that’s where she sits. Pretty cool!