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Alexa Auto turns any phone into a CarPlay and Android Auto rival

Amazon has revealed a new Auto Mode for its Alexa app which, as the name would suggest, provides a car-friendly interface to help keep your focus on the road ahead.

The app-based solution will provide a simple interface for a smartphone safely stowed in a mount. The Alexa voice commands still take centre stage, but the app provides four screens with a few large options, meaning prods can be less precise.

Those screens are the Auto Mode home screen, Navigation, Communicate, and Play. The home screen provides access to the most commonly-used features, as well as an Alexa voice command shortcut.

While the home screen features options to play media, navigate home or make a call, the following three screens enable you to dive deeper into each of those categories.

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Navigate features your frequented destinations and, upon selection, will deploy your favourite directions app. It’s also possible to say “Alexa, find nearby coffee shops,” for example, which will surface a list of options.

Communicate offers the opportunity to make a call, ‘Drop In’ on an Echo device or send an announcement like ‘on my way home’ to selected contacts. Finally, Media features access to the current and recently played media, while voice controls can be used to select whatever you want.

The app update – which shouldn’t be confused with the Echo Auto device that brings voice controls to the dashboard in order to control smartphone functionality – is coming to the UK in the coming weeks.

Amazon is also launching a new “start my commute” feature, which works for Echo Auto or other Alexa-enabled vehicles. Uttering “Alexa, start my commute,” will begin the featured route, present the current weather and traffic forecast as well as a choice of entertainment.

“Alexa will ask if you’d like to listen to music or an audiobook, catch up on your daily news, or play a car-friendly game,” the company writes. “Once the routine is enabled, you have the option to customise it further through the Routines section in the Alexa app.”

Start My Commute is coming to the US first, with no word on a UK launch.

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