In the United States, Amazon Alexa is already baked in to select vehicles, but the popular voice assistant remains elusive in the Great White North. A live demo and showcase at CES 2020 shed light on what’s to come.
Amazon has always marketed it as an extension of the experience at home. You talk to it, and it either answers a question or controls something it can tap into. It’s not all that different in the car. If you have a thermostat, garage door or any other supported smart home product at home, you can control it by voice while on the road.
The demo vehicle was a 2020 Cadillac ST6, which will offer the voice assistant in the U.S. It’s not clear if it will be available in the Canadian model, nor if it were to be added later on in a software update.
The voice button on the steering wheel springs it into action, though the “Alexa” wake word is another option. Unlike Echo speakers, you can’t use a different wake word. It has to be Alexa. What’s interesting is that a short press on the voice button brings it up, whereas a long press will wake GM’s own voice recognition system.
So, what about CarPlay and Android Auto? Both of those use their own respective platforms, Siri and Google Assistant, respectively. If you’re running one of those, would they silence Alexa? There was no way to test it to know for sure, but it appears that it is theoretically possible to run both at once. The one caveat to doing so depends on whether Alexa becomes the default…