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Echo Auto

jdeacon

Member
Sep 26, 2019
33
28
London, England
I saw that the Echo Auto is now available in the UK and I ordered one. It arrived today.

It's small - a bit bigger than a compact cassette (for those who remember them).

I haven't had an opportunity for a long journey, but I might have an opportunity tomorrow.

It's interesting. It connects to the Alexa app on the phone, and to the Tesla's Bluetooth. The app already had a cut down Alexa voice assistant but you had to touch a button to wake it up and that's obviously no good in a vehicle. What the Echo Auto adds is the clever Echo microphone technology and the wake word functionality.

There are other things. It's built to be forgiving about being frequently switched on and off. I already had an Echo Dot in the car, but it definitely wasn't happy about being switched on and off all the time; and it wasn't happy that unless I'd activated the phone's hot spot, there was no Internet connectivity. I had to re-activate it a couple of times.

The Echo Auto is also supposed to be happy with the extremes of temperature in a car cabin.

The really clever thing is supposed to be the voice recognition with all the worse-than-a-kitchen car noises, including rain, wipers, traffic, etc. We shall see when I get to take a longer journey.

The other thing it solves is the question of what to connect the car's audio to. Previously I could BT the Echo Dot to the car but then phone calls and texts didn't come through the car. Or I could keep the phone BTed to the car and have Alexa come out of the puny Echo Dot speaker. Now the phone is BlueToothed, and the calls, text and Alexa all use the car's audio.
 
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hingus2000

Member
May 24, 2020
233
175
London
Saw the release announcement and also wondered how useful it would be as we have quite an Alexa integrated house.

Interested to hear if it opens up any more advanced location-dependant integrations.
 

Pagemakers

Member
Dec 25, 2016
672
289
Manchester UK
A few questions:

  1. Can I listen to DAB radio in my car via the built in Tesla app and still use echo to make calls or reply to me without having to change inputs on the Tesla?
  2. Can I control Spotify?
  3. Does it work well hidden away out of view?
 

jdeacon

Member
Sep 26, 2019
33
28
London, England
I've simply put the Echo next to phone on the phone tray. Here's the install:
IMG_2637.JPG

The Echo Dot that this replaces was too tall for the phone tray so it sat just beneath in the forward part of the center console storage. Voice recognition here on the tray was as good as the Dot's; maybe a little better; I need a longer trial. It reacted to the lid being closed about as much as the Dot did: it was very slightly worse with the lid down but not much. Most of the time if you'd forgotten to raise the lid it would be fine.

However, I shall have a go at removing the vent grip and putting it here and seeing if it's significantly better, which is more like what Amazon recommend:
IMG_2642.JPG
Although I've just discovered that the phone tray surface doesn't take kindly to Blu tack, which was my original thought for fixing up there above the AC vent.

Perhaps on a short journey I wouldn't care much and would leave it on the phone tray. But I might want the best response and put it there above the AC vent for a longer journey.

One reviewer has mentioned using the vent clip on the rear compartment's vent. However, according to the installation booklet, and my quick look, the vent clip isn't compatible with the Model 3 rear vent type.

Another reviewer had stuck theirs to the underside of the storage compartment lid – the one forward of the cup holder – though goodness knows why.

I did a four mile trip on the M4, which was not much of a trial. But I found it to be OK. Bearing in mind I already had an Echo in there there are two questions:

a) Do I like having an Echo in the car? Absolutely. But I am quite a fan already. I have several in the house. It's great having something that can actually do voice recognition. Twice I asked the Model 3 to fold the mirrors on a narrow road; once it ignored me and once it responded with something along the lines of 'No music by Jamiroquai'. I asked Alexa where I was and it responded correctly that I was in Chiswick. I couldn't remember if that was a Tesla voice thing, so I tried asking the Model 3 where I was and got something like 'Command not implemented'.

b) Is it better than the Dot? In terms of voice recognition, it may be a little better, but not much. They both have clever mic technology, but the Auto's is supposed to optimized for cars. It certainly heard me over loud music at 65 mph. Maybe the Dot couldn't have done that. I'll need longer trials.

It is very nice not having to decide between having the phone's audio Bluetoothed to the car or the Echo's, which is what you had to do with the Dot.
 
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Pagemakers

Member
Dec 25, 2016
672
289
Manchester UK
I’ve done a bit of ready and some people seem to throw the echo under the phone charger area without any problems of voice recognition.

The issue I think it’s preventing me from purchasing is the fact you have to have the car on phone input for the echo to work.

So for example you can’t be listening to the radio on the Tesla and then give the echo a command because you won’t hear the reply unless the Tesla is on phone input.
 

jdeacon

Member
Sep 26, 2019
33
28
London, England
...

The issue I think it’s preventing me from purchasing is the fact you have to have the car on phone input for the echo to work.

So for example you can’t be listening to the radio on the Tesla and then give the echo a command because you won’t hear the reply unless the Tesla is on phone input.

This is true. There is a small speaker it uses if it's not BTed to the car. But I doubt you'd hear it when moving. That was the problem with the Dot. You could have the car connected to the phone or playing the radio; but you could hardly hear the Dot's speaker above, say, 20 mph.

Maybe if and when the Tesla voice recognition gets good enough that you can tell it to flip between radio and phone, this won't be so much of an issue.
 

Pagemakers

Member
Dec 25, 2016
672
289
Manchester UK
This is true. There is a small speaker it uses if it's not BTed to the car. But I doubt you'd hear it when moving. That was the problem with the Dot. You could have the car connected to the phone or playing the radio; but you could hardly hear the Dot's speaker above, say, 20 mph.

Maybe if and when the Tesla voice recognition gets good enough that you can tell it to flip between radio and phone, this won't be so much of an issue.

With this in mind I connected to my phone today and used “hey Siri” over Bluetooth. I guess this will be the same kind of experience as Echo Auto.

I found though, when I said “play x”, it wanted me to open my phone so Spotify could be accessed etc.

Is this the same when using Echo Auto because I guess that would get irritating very quickly.

It’s such a shame that Tesla voice recognition is so absolutely dire.
 

jdeacon

Member
Sep 26, 2019
33
28
London, England
With this in mind I connected to my phone today and used “hey Siri” over Bluetooth. I guess this will be the same kind of experience as Echo Auto.

I found though, when I said “play x”, it wanted me to open my phone so Spotify could be accessed etc.

Is this the same when using Echo Auto because I guess that would get irritating very quickly.

It’s such a shame that Tesla voice recognition is so absolutely dire.
It's difficult for me to determine. I don't have a Spotify account and my phone doesn't have the Spotifiy app. However (complicated story), my Alexa account does have a link to a Spotify subscription; we've linked my daughter's Spotify account to my Alexa account. In the house, if we ask Alexa to play something from Spotify, it does. In fact I have to be careful: if I ask for music that isn't in my Amazon Music, it automatically grabs Spotify and plays the music, and my daughter gets cross as she was almost certainly listening to Spotify herself!

When I ask the Echo Auto in the car for a track from Spotify – explicitly or be asking for music not in my Amazon Music – it says, 'Your phone needs the Spotify app', and won't play. So I'm guessing you're right. Although in the house, the Echoes will connect to Spotify over the WiFi, in the car the Echo won't connect to Spotify via the phone's WiFi. I don't know why – licence terms?

I should add that streaming from Amazon Music does work as you'd expect. I don't think I have an Amazon Music app on my phone, but the Echo Auto will happily stream music from my Amazon Music.
 

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