5 ways Alexa can make driving easier
Do more of what you like and less of what you don't
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Ugh, driving eh? It’s the worst. Well, not the worst. It’s brilliant, obviously. But there are some things about it that aren’t so great. Getting lost. Getting bored. Having to get out of the car before pumping gas. THE WORST.
Luckily, modern technology has a solution to help you spend less time worrying about boring stuff and instead focusing on the fun bits of driving, like pressing the gas pedal. Braking just the right amount. Turning the steering wheel very smoothly. Changing gear (either granny shifting or double de-clutching, like you should). Muttering at the idiot behind you who's driving so close. You know, the classics.
There are now an increasing number of cars fitted with voice assistants – and the big boy of voice control is coming to town, and it's bringing quality voice assistance with it. I’m talking about Amazon Alexa, which is now available in a whole fleet of new cars, and you can also use it in some older vehicles. Here are just five of the ways that Alexa can help make your driving life easier.
"I should really stop driving while I do this" (Photo: Cristofer Jeschke on Unsplash)
You know the deal. You’re running late for an appointment. Your in-car GPS requires multiple touchscreen menus to navigate through, and then you have to type in the address, which of course you can’t remember, and even if you can you’ll have to stab wildly at the screen so much that you can’t focus on your driving. You crash, miss your appointment, lose your job, your other half leaves you, and you end up penniless on the street. If only there was another way?
“Alexa, take me to 626 Awesome Street,” you say. Boom, directions are plumbed into your sat-nav and you get turn-by-turn instructions. You arrive early, your meeting goes brilliantly, you earn a promotion and buy a huge house in a nice part of town with a massive garage. Amazing.*
*Huge house and promotion are not guaranteed.
Pay for fuel
(Photo: Jorge Segovia on Unsplash)
OK, some states will at least pump your gas for you, but you still need to get out of the car and walk to the clerk to go and pay. UGH. But now you can pay for gas from the comfort of your driver's seat at over 11,500 Exxon and Mobil stations across the US, using Alexa and Amazon Pay.
All you’ll need to say is “Alexa, pay for gas” and BOOM. Wait, not boom. Not at the gas station, that's a poor choice of words. KA-CHOW then. Once Alexa's done her thing and released the funds, the pump is activated and you can fuel up.
Look, talking on the phone while holding your phone and driving simultaneously is a Very Bad Idea. It can distract you very easily, and then we’re into the whole crashing problem. Hands-free calling is the way forward, and Alexa can help you do it. No swiping through screens or scrabbling to pick up your phone – just say “Alexa, call Brian Wonderful”, and your best friend, Mr Wonderful, will soon be broadcast through your car’s speakers, and will tell you off for calling while driving.
You can also use this feature to call any Echo devices you have at home. So if you’re out driving, you can say “Alexa, call the kitchen”, and you’ll be able to tell your other half that you’re on the way home and to please make sure there’s a beer in the fridge, thanks I love you bye-bye.
Listen to podcasts
"Welcome to my podcast all about Opel's badge engineering exploits with Buick, this is our 1,000th episode" (Photo: Soundtrap on Unsplash)
Sure, music’s great, but there’s only so long you can belt out Total Eclipse of the Heart at full volume during a seven-hour drive before your vocal cords start to fail. At which point, why not listen to a podcast? There are literally dozens to choose from, and maybe even more.
Alexa can play from a number of podcast providers such as Amazon Music, Apple Podcasts and Spotify, and you just need to ask for the one you want. “Alexa, play the latest episode of The DriveTribe Podcast”, for example.
Turn off the lights
"Well, now I have to sit in the dark." (Photo: Bailey Torres on Unsplash)
There are plenty of practical reasons for needing to turn your home lights on or off remotely. You may have gone away for a few days and forgotten to turn them off, or perhaps you want to turn them on to give the impression that you’re still home. Or, more likely, you just want to mess with the people that are still in the house.
You’ll need to have smart lights, of course, either through a smart socket into which your regular lights are plugged, or through purpose-built smart lights from companies like Philips Hue or Ikea. As long as you’ve got those, you should be able to control them via Alexa.
“Alexa, turn off the kitchen lights”. Then you wait for the angry text from whoever’s home and has just been plunged into darkness. Hah. We're truly living in the future.