Virtual assistants are everywhere these days: phones, tablets, computers, and even headphones are shipping with built-in support for voice-activated AI. It should come as little surprise, then, that Toyota plans to begin implementing Alexa in their cars starting later this year.
While voice-activated assistants have been available for the automobile market for a while, they’ve come in the form of third-party add-ons rather than full-on integration. Toyota plans to change this trend by offering built-in Alexa support in the form of a software update for certain cars, while many 2019 model year vehicles will support Alexa from day one.
The practical usefulness of Alexa in an automobile environment is still up in the air, but Toyota claims that your experience will be comparable to a standard one – you’ll be able to request updates on news stories or social media, control your entertainment system by skipping a song or ejecting a CD, and even interface with your smart home if that’s your thing.
One possible use for Alexa while driving is to get continuous updates on road and traffic conditions without having to use your phone in a roundabout way. Instead of fumbling with your phone’s virtual assistant while trying to keep your eyes on the road, you can just ask Alexa to give you a report on how the traffic looks on a certain route, or what the latest snow storm did to your route home.
As previously mentioned, you’ll be able to use Alexa with a smart home as well. Like with all smart home devices, your Alexa’s effectiveness is limited only by your creativity; anything from unlocking your front door to changing the thermostat from inside of the garage should be feasible from within your Toyota. This will also allow you to synchronize things like playlists and to-do lists while on-the-go.
If you aren’t a fan of Toyota, don’t worry—Ford and BMW are also planning on implementing Alexa in future models, and other manufacturers will no doubt follow suit. Your commute may still be the largest waste of time in your day, but having Alexa along for the ride should give your productivity a welcome nudge.