With Ford, Amazon's Alexa hits the road

ford sync

Ford has figured out what cars have been missing: Amazon integration.

Well, not exactly Amazon. Amazon's Alexa, specifically. That is why they are bringing Amazon's personal assistant to their cars, to help drivers with a variety of things that smart assistants can help with. 

In IT Blogwatch, we head out on the highway.

So what is going on? Alexandria Sage has the background:

Ford...is expanding the use of Amazon's...Alexa personal assistant in its vehicles to allow drivers to talk to their cars -- demanding anything from a nearby cheeseburger to a weather forecast -- marking a leap by the...automaker to incorporate a technology initially targeted for home use.
The expanding alliance between Ford and Amazon...underscores the importance to both automakers and internet commerce companies of connecting consumers on the move to a richer array of digital services.

But what exactly does that mean? Tim Hardwick expands on what we know:

The partnership means owners of Ford cars equipped with the Sync 3 AppLink system will be able to access Amazon's Alexa...from the driver's seat, enabling them to check the weather, add items to shopping lists, play audiobooks, and control Alexa-compatible smart home devices, like lights and thermometers.

And do you need to actually have an Amazon Echo? What do you think? Miles Branman has the answer:

As you’ve probably concluded...many of these features will require additional Alexa equipment (Echo, Echo Dot, etc), but the functionality will be built right in to Sync 3 from the factory...Alexa integration will arrive in two phases.

When will all of this come to Ford's cars? Wayne Cunningham has the details:

The first phase...rollout this month...will enable drivers to request information about their cars from an Alexa device in the home. The integration will work with the Ford Focus Electric, Fusion Energi and C-Max Energi. Alexa will tell owners the car's electric range, fuel level and other data.
The next phase, in summer, will see greater integration in the car, letting drivers make...requests from Alexa, including some of the same things an Alexa device in the home can respond to. As this Alexa integration relies on Sync 3's AppLink feature...it should work in any Sync 3-equipped car.

So what do people think about all this? Brant isn't sold:

Ugh, but then we’d have to buy a Ford.

Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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