Echo Auto Add Alexa your Reviews Review and Buying Guide from experts and users.
± Half-baked Beta in search of a niche
At the time I put in for an invite for this device, I was frustrated with Siri hands-free. It couldn’t summon pandora or amazon music, and simple tasks like checking store hours and getting navigation were hit or miss. Fast forward to a couple weeks back when I finally got my echo auto, and boy does this product make Siri look great.
The first issue you’ll notice is that Echo Auto isn’t always ready to go when the car starts, often for the first few minutes she’ll report she’s lost connection with the app and can’t respond right now. Admittedly this is probably because the iPhone paged out the Alexa app, but it would be nice if the echo auto announced when she is ready rather than leaving me to make the same query over and over again until it works.
Navigation is also atrocious. In my short time with Echo Auto, I’ve discovered that asking Alexa to “navigate to <business>” often doesn’t result in directions, but instead either gets me traffic info or a suggestion to enable video skills in my library. Specifically asking Alexa to “get directions to <business>” seems to work okay, but since Alexa uses third party nav apps, on iPhone I often need to click a notification to get started with nav (and since iOS blocks notifications while driving, this means unlocking the phone). To make matters worse, if Alexa misheard you and puts the wrong destination into nav, she can’t cancel it directly and tells you to unlock the phone and cancel nav manually in the nav app. The entire point of an audio assistant in the car is to be hands free, so I consider echo auto nav fundamentally broken.
Other issues: customer support can be pretty clueless, suggesting things like lowering radio volume and ambient noise if echo auto misheard you (even though echo auto is the thing playing stuff through the radio, and there’s going to be road, wind, engine, and hvac noise in a car…). Also it’s irksome that the Auto is powered by usb but can’t send audio over usb to the car.
Now some of these complaints may seem minor, and Alexa’s always improving, but the trouble is so is her competition. With ios13, I can now say “hey Siri, play pandora” and it works! “Hey Siri” also works great for nav and other info, and she can more reliably hear me in the car. I’m guessing Google Assistant can do all this too. So the fundamental question is why would anyone pay $50 for an Echo Auto when their smartphone can already do everything the Auto does but better?
± WORST AMAZON PRODUCT EVER MADE.
The worst amazon product ever made. I hate that Amazon fooled me into trying this! I wanted to love it! I wanted to love it so hard! What’s with the cords Amazon? Why do you need my cords. I have a bluetooth thing that I use.. why cant you be more like that special plug?
First- I sat in my car for nearly 2 hours trying to get this to connect. I dont have bluetooth, so the obvious appeal is that I can now have a wonderful hands-free option, and Alexa to boot! However- 2 hours, and nothing. Blue lights, zero response. Unplugged, replugged, restarted, nothing. I waited for my husband to come home before going postal.
When he came to my rescue, I showed him what I had accomplished.. litterally zero, and we started over. Step by step we followed every instruction. Nothing. But then! A random connection! We didnt do anything, but hey.. it’s working! For 2 whole min. It kept saying to reconnect you must go to the open the Alexa app (which btw– does NOTHING!) I’d have to restart my phone for any sort of connection to reoccur. We basically called it a wash and said we would be returning it the next day.
Next day- how random that as I’m driving down the road it connects and works for a good 30 min.. and I’m loving it and me and alexa are cruising along with Spotify as our wingman. I ask for directions, and I’m on my way. This is awesome… until midfreeway and alexa disconnects on me again.. says to pullover to open the alexa app to restart. I cant.. I’m doing 70 in the fastlane and now in the verge of being lost. I get off at the next exit. Once again its prompting me to go to the alexa app to restart. Why? Why amazon do you keep telling me to do this?
I’ll say it again. The Alexa app does nothing to reconnect the device. ( And trying to get it back online without wanting to smash it is a feat!)
I restart my phone again, and were back in business. For seemingly a good solid 30min, until I arrive at my destination and turn off my car.
I should not have to restart everything in my vehicle including my phone to get this epic POS to connect everytime I want to enter my car or use it!
Now- that being said. If you have bluetooth already- you may less issues. I really dont know if that grass is greener. You’ll have at least one less cord hanging from your dash though.
My 2 cords and my little cord keeper– sigh– the cord keeper fell off on day 2. This made my dash look messy and it was kinda nightmarish. I worried how I’d charge my phone, how I’d switch to radio or do anything without upsetting the mighty auto connection. It was like walking on eggshells.
I ultimately returned her. I was sad. It broke my heart. It felt like Amazon tricked me. Heck- who didnt want to try this? Me!! I did! I still would if Amazon could come up with something 85% better than this corded, disconnected, heap o crap.
Do you hear me amazon? We love our echos. But this? This is shameful. Save your money until they can make it bug free
± Not Yet Ready for Prime Time
This thing doesn’t work worth a whit. IF you can get it connected to your vehicle’s system, enjoy while it lasts — that may be the last time that it will work. Turn off the engine and you have to go thru the setup process — over, and over, and over again. I don’t have the wherewithal, patience, or inclination to screw around with this thing for an hour every time I start the car. Setup seems straight forward, but (for me) has to be repeated many times over before it takes hold and starts to work. this will be going back to Amazon Mo-Rikki-Tic…
± Eh, it causes more headaches
I was able to get my Auto as part of an invite. I was super excited to try it out. The first time I connected to my car via Bluetooth, it worked pretty well. But after that, not so much. Alexa kept telling me that she couldn’t connect to my phone…over and over and over again. Finally one day I spent about an hour trying to figure this little bugger out. I got it to connect again. *whew* But now Alexa won’t answer me. I’m pretty sure she hates me and is going to ignore me for the rest of my life. I chose to mount the Auto with the vent clip, seemed fine to me. But during a road trip on the highway going 65, the Auto fell off and landed under my feet. Probably not the safest thing to happen. I chucked the vent clip into my glove box. Not the Auto sits in a little cubby right near the radio. She still ignores me there too. I wouldn’t buy this again, not even for the discounted price.
± We’re impressed. It does need better instructions and a better way to place it somewhere.
I heard about the Echo Auto in an Amazon Echo group on Facebook. People were talking about being the lucky ones to get an invite, some discussed the hands free part of it, which made me interested. My car comes with a hands free voice computer system, but it does not work well, so I never use it. I also bought this because it’s an Echo. I got the invite rather fast and started using it right away.
A little background: Amazon’s Echo devices have changed our lives. Especially for my blind son (32 years old). I bought the Echo Auto for him, so he can continue to experience the control he finally has on what he wants to listen to, by talking to Alexa. He has some learning delays in addition to his blindness, but Alexa has been relatively easy for him to use and has empowered him to be able to do things he could never do before: like control the A/C, go to various radio stations around the world on his radio, and use his Fire TV and all the apps he has on it. We are grateful to Amazon for creating these devices.
What I found needs work on the Echo Auto:
1. It’s a little convoluted to hook up to the car’s radio for the average person (like my husband). I can do it, but the directions that came with it missed some steps in regards to a person’s cell phone and what they need to do. I think more detailed instructions might help people.
2. There is no place on my dash to put it (Ford Expedition), my vents are circular so I couldn’t use the vent kit they sell, and there’s no way to organize the cable. I’m going to have to stick it down on the lower front side of my center console, which will make it slightly hard to see the lights on the Echo. It’s not as streamlined as I thought it would be, probably because of the cables being loose. I will probably use electrical tape to keep them flush with everything, which will not be fun to look at. Lately I’ve just been putting it in one of our cup holders so it can hear my son, seated behind me. Alexa requires him to yell at her for her to understand him, so that’s a problem.
What I really like:
1. When I asked Alexa for directions (which normally are a pain to get on my phone), she connected us to my phone’s app and had it talking to us with the directions within seconds. I can’t do it that fast via my phone! That is a huge bonus.
2. We got to really try the Echo Auto out during a recent 12-hour (round trip) long drive when we evacuated from a hurricane. We put her though the paces, so to speak, and I think she not only was impressive with her speed at completing our commands, but also with all the cool things we used her for. Hearing her voice through the car’s speakers was helpful too. She made this trip go by fast, versus two other hurricane evacuations without an Echo.
For the price of $25, this is a good little device. But for full price, you might have more disgruntled people leaving bad reviews. I’m a diehard Echo and Alexa fan, just so you know. If you can get a deal on this, I recommend it. I probably would still buy it at $50, because of what I know and how much we use it. It certainly paid for itself in our hurricane evacuation alone. They need to figure out a better way to control the cables and for placing it. Also, better instructions for hooking it up would be nice for most people.
± Solid item for playing Amazon Music
I don’t quite understand all the negative reviews. I bought this item for one specific purpose: to pacify my 2.5 year old daughter when she is rapid firing music demands from her car seat. “Wheels on the Bus, Momma! Five Little Monkeys, Momma, pleeeeeeaaassseeee!” It works great for playing music. I have a playlist set up, but she doesn’t always want to hear every song on it and asking her to wait repeatedly or trying to change songs while pulling over or at a light or in any type of hands-free manner gets old real fast. So, when I saw it being offered, I requested an invite.
Not perfectly intuitive, but not hard. If you buy this as a gift you need to say so when you check out. Otherwise, it comes automatically assigned to your Amazon account, which makes set up easier. In the Alexa app, just click the + sign (plus sign) on the devices screen. Select Echo, then scroll down to Auto. It’s not overly hard, but neither the instructions nor the device tell you where to look for it. It works plugged into your built-in USB port or a car charger. I tested both. Your phone needs to be able to connect to your car via Bluetooth. You DO NOT need to turn on your phone’s portable hotspot setting for it to work, although it does connect to your phone’s data services. You can supposedly also use the included 9mm auxiliary cord (finally, Amazon includes the needed cords) but once you set up the bluetooth option, I COULD NOT figure out how to get it back to the corded option. I took 1/2 star off for that. It can probably be done, but it should be obvious and it just isn’t.
The sound travels over Bluetooth and is decently crisp if you have any type of decent system in your car, but it likely won’t satisfy a true audiophile. My toddler couldn’t care less. You have to make sure the volume on BOTH your car and phone are turned up or it won’t work. I wanted to see if the sound was better with the corded option, but I can’t get it to work.
It comes with a vent mount in which the vent portion can turn to accommodate for thin vents or wide vents. This may not make sense, but you will understand when you see it. The portion that attaches to the Echo is magnetic, so it can be easily removed without taking the mount down every time.
The device is a little larger than I was expecting, but not overly large. It is 3 3/8 inches long, 1 7/8 inches wide, and ½ inch thick.
The cord is 39 inches long, which is long enough to reach the center dashboard plug in my mini-van from the vent next to the driver side window without dangling too much. The only thing is that I was thinking of plugging it into the plug hidden in the bottom of the center console since I will be leaving it in the car permanently and I would need probably a 6 ft cord for that. The included cords will likely not reach anyone’s center console, even in a relatively small car.
Other than playing music, it can apparently do a whole bunch of other things. However, it doesn’t do them all that well. I wouldn’t count on being able to get directions from it, for instance. It misunderstands what you’re asking half the time. However, it does look up other information pretty reliably, such as business information, weather, briefs/news, etc. I took another ½ star off for that, since the directions feature would be super nice. It claims to be able to place/answer calls, check texts, etc. However, my car can do that itself and I don’t want to allow devices and apps to access my contacts more than I have to.
This is a nifty device and if you need a hands-free way to play music/news/podcasts/etc, it is worth a try. If you want it for other reasons, you may end up being somewhat disappointed.
± Fun for road trips and minor things
The clip for your vent is honestly useless and overly huge. It blocks my vents and already dealing with a car charger up there. I did find a spot I could tuck it in that was easily seen and can hear well in my 2012 Rav 4. Things I have found it useful for: Smart home automation such as remembering to tell her to turn off the house and arm when I am driving off. Entertaining the kids when driving by telling her to play music they are interested in. As for directions and commands like that, I’m sticking to Siri. Even if Siri has a hard time hearing me (she’s on my vent) most of the time. I asked to take me to the nearest gas station and she told me to open my app. That won’t work in a hands free environment driving. I would rather see something even smaller that does not require clipping on a vent, shoving in a crevice, and cords you have to tuck away. I think a better, smaller, device can be designed for easy of use. The value of this design, including the clip, is probably $25.00. But not $50.00.
All in all, she’s okay but needs work.
I received this at a discount for an honest review.
± Echo Auto is held back by the lackluster app
After a few weeks of ownership I’ve dropped the rating. To be clear, I think that this thing is built well and priced right. When everything works, Alexa response quickly and clearly. I like the idea of bringing some artificial intelligence to my commute.
That said, Echo Auto’s dependence on the Alexa app severely hamstrings it. On Android (I have a Pixel 2 XL) the app is okay at best because suffers from a few connection and integration issues. Examples:
(1) I use an Android Wear watch. When the music stops playing in the car, the app doesn’t tell the watch so it continues to show the “Now Playing” window.
(2) The Echo Auto once informed me that it could no longer connect to my phone, requiring me to unlock the device and restart the app. I was driving and couldn’t safely pull over, so the Echo Auto was unable to perform its task.
(3) Hours after getting out of my car the Alexa app continued to show me the music playing notification on my phone. I keep dismissing it, it keeps showing up. I ended up disabling Alexa notifications, which appears to disable *all* Alexa app notifications so the app doesn’t seem to follow Android’s best practices.
(4) The music that was playing on the Echo Auto may randomly start playing on its own hours after getting out of the car. Since I disabled the notifications in step 3 above, there is no way to quickly stop it via the phone (good thing my watch thinks the music is always playing) so at least that’s an option. It is pretty great when music starts playing during a meeting at work! /s
While this should be a review of the Android version of the Alexa app, the problem is that the Echo Auto is entirely dependent on it. Unlike the other Echo devices, which stand very well on their own, the Alexa app makes or breaks this Echo. In my case, it is firmly the latter.
± Alexa in the car!
Update 10/8/2019: For all of those frustrated with Echo Auto, I get it! I updated my phone to the newest IPhone and I lost the Echo Auto connection in my car and couldn’t get it back for days! It was quite frustrating. I did fix it, here’s how: Turn Bluetooth off on your phone. Turn your phone completely off. Unplug the power cord from Echo Auto. Turn your phone back on. Turn on Bluetooth. Plug back in the Echo Auto. Press the Dot on the Echo Auto for 8 seconds until you see the orange light on the Echo Auto light up and Immediately take your finger off the dot, you may have to do it a couple of times until you see the orange lite because it goes away if you keep pressing the dot. Echo Auto should then begin the pairing process with your phone. Again the voice is low when rebooting so say Alexa volume 10 and turn your car stereo up. The dot is the home button on the Echo Auto or the top button on the right hand side. Remember to quickly take your finger off the button when you see the orange light. I hope this helps some of you out there! It fixed mine and now I’m rollin down the road with Alexa blaring in my speakers LOL!. I was invited to try the Echo Auto, thank you Amazon! Unboxing the echo was simple and straight forward. I received the Echo Auto a usb cord and a 3.5mm audio cable and the vent mount. I am not using the vent mount in my vehicle because I wanted the device hidden from plain view. I have the Echo located in the shift console. After fiddling around for a bit maybe 5 minutes or so I had it connected. When I heard that familiar voice I was overjoyed! What I wasn’t expecting is that I had told Alexa to play music everywhere (habit as I have multiple Echos at home) and when I got home ALL my Echos were playing music! I laughed a good one and discovered immediately that hey! I can operate my home from my car! I think the possibilities are endless! I used to not carry my phone in the car always and now I do because Echo Auto works off your cell phone. I don’t mind this at all. There have been zero lags or issues while using Echo in the car. I did discover that when you turn the car radio to AUX and say Alexa her voice was low so I said Alexa volume 10 and that fixed that issue. I have a premium stereo system in my car and the music is absolutely flawless while playing, no buffering and crystal clear. My friends have discovered Echo in my car and now when everyone is in the car everyone is always yelling Alexa! do this do that, its a lot of fun! For the price I paid I am VERY happy with Echo Auto and would recommend EVERYONE to get one. I can hardly wait for new skills to come out for the Echo Auto. I researched Automatic and unfortunately there is a subscription to that plus a device that costs a pretty penny, so thats not for me. Buy this you will not be disappointed! Please click the helpful button, I appreciate it.
± Unnecessary, Buggy, Dangerous, and Defective Product
I received one of the invitation only Echo Autos in August 2019 and tried it out for two weeks before it stopped working and potentially damaged my car. I was very excited about this product and I already have multiple Fire Sticks, a Fire Cube, an Echo Dot, and an Echo Show 5. I thought it would be neat to have Alexa in my car as well for voice control, music, info, and directions, but it was anything but. I received the unit and the vent holder and set it up in my car. I have a 2012 Toyota Camry and already have and use Entune on my Iphone. The setup was relatively easy, I walked through the addition of the Echo Auto on my Iphone Alexa App and did an all Bluetooth setup so I did not need the audio jack. I also realized it used the Bluetooth for the Mic in the car so I didn’t need to even have the Echo Auto on the vent mount, I was able to keep it in a compartment in my dashboard that had a USB connection. I was really pleased that it was tucked away and a very clean install and I was excited to try it. Initially it seemed great, I was able to ask to give me the weather report, general info, specific songs, and I was impressed it integrated with my Entune system and displayed song titles and Artists during music playback. Alexa seemed relatively responsive and was consistently doing what I asked. There was however a bit of a lag when switching tracks, much more so then when I used Pandora or Apple Music directly on my phone, but for me it seemed worth the trade off to be able to play anything on demand with voice control.
As I used it over the next two weeks I started noticing some serious issues that started to sour me on the device. After a day or so I started getting random drop outs of the Bluetooth connection, sometimes when the car started up and sometimes mid drive. I would call out “Alexa” and just get no response or her voice coming out of the Echo Auto unit itself. I disabled the Entune app on my phone, thinking there may be a conflict, but it did not have any effect on the issue. Alexa would stop responding completely or say “There is a problem connecting with the Bluetooth, please check your Alexa app for more information”. Now when driving this would be dangerous so I would pull over and check the app, it would be running but have a message I had to click to “Confirm I was a Passenger”. Once I clicked that the connection in most cases would be restored, but other times it would not, and I would have to open the Bluetooth settings on my phone and click the Echo Auto device listed to reconnect. In other cases I would have to do all of those steps to no avail and actually restart the car to get it to work again. This could be potentially dangerous if a driver had to fiddled with all this while driving, the whole point of this is to be hands free and provide less of a distraction, but if Alexa gets disabled that seems to go out the window.
I put up with the issues and kept trying to see if there were any other features that may justify the hassle of the dropped connection. I tried some other features like directions, but it only gives you a selection of possible locations and when you choose one it sends the directions to your phone. It doesn’t have turn by turn directions, and again directs you to have to interact with your phone to bring up directions. I also noticed that if I lost internet connection, Alexa would stop working and not even be able to control music that was on my phone. At this point I was ready to disconnect it, but I had a long drive coming up the next weekend, and thought I could give it a real extended road test on that drive. That was not to be, two weeks after I installed it, and the day before I went on that trip I turned on my car and got the following message on my car’s screen “Power consumption of USB device too high. USB device will therefore be turned off.” I immediately unplugged the Echo Auto device and the message disappeared. I did try to plug it in again but the message would appear soon after, and Alexa was completely unresponsive. Rather than risk damaging my car’s electrical system I unplugged the Echo Auto for good.
I so wanted this device to work as an extension of Alexa in my car and add features to my aging Entune system in my car, but it is nothing but a hassle. The built in system in my 8 year old car already does 90% of what I would use the Echo Auto for, with less of a delay and much greater reliably. It adds another point of failure and possible dangerous distraction that simply makes this a unnecessary and useless product. I am also extremely concerned about the message I received on my Car’s Entune system, and I don’t know whether my particular unit was defective, or if it just started drawing too much power. Either way I wasn’t taking any chances, so the unit and mount are being returned to Amazon for a refund.