Auto mode is a new feature on Amazon’s Alexa app that turns your phone into a “driver-friendly display” when used with Alexa Auto accessories like the Echo Auto, the company says. Along with offering access to Alexa’s specific voice commands, it includes large touchscreen icons that provide access to features such as instructions, music playback, and calling. Amazon says the mode will be available in the coming weeks in the Alexa app on iOS and Android “when paired with an Echo Auto or other supported Alexa Auto stuff.”
The driving-focused mode consists of four screens. There is a navigation screen that provides shortcuts to favorite locations and will link to your default navigation app for directions (“Alexa, go back to the Alexa app” switches you back to the Amazon app).
Meanwhile, the Communicate screen gives shortcuts to make calls, drop in, or announce from other Alexa devices (useful for letting your family know you’re on the way home, Amazon says). Play screen gives access to media playback. Finally, the home screen provides shortcuts for frequently used actions.
Amazon says the new Auto mode is designed to work with devices such as the Echo Auto, a small Bluetooth-enabled device that was Amazon’s last major attempt to get Alexa into your car. However, when we reviewed it for ourselves, we found that the kind of questions I had while driving did not help Alexa.
Echo Auto failed to pick up the right spots when we asked for directions, and it was generally confusing when our internet was interrupted. It is unclear whether these issues will be completely fixed with the companion app’s new Auto Mode, but having an on-screen interface can make it clear what options are available to you.
Amazon says the auto mode will be available in the US, Canada, Germany, France, India, Italy, Spain, UK, Australia and New Zealand.