The war for in-car feature control heats up

These days, having the right infotainment and onboard technology is critical to new car sales, as evidenced by the huge number of automakers present at the Consumer Electronics Show this year. The latest comes from Toyota and Lexus, which just announced it would equip “select” models with advanced feature control courtesy of Amazon Alexa.

For those of you who may be unaware, Amazon Alexa is the online retain giant’s personal digital assistant. First used in the Amazon Echo, Alexa is able to provide a host of services via voice command, including music playback, the creation of to-do lists, alarm setting, real-time traffic status, and news. If properly integrated with devices and systems at home, Alexa can also perform other tasks, such as adjusting the temperature settings for the heater and A/C.

In total, Amazon Alexa can connect to “thousands” of things for added digital convenience. As for in-car features, Alexa can handle all the basics, such as remote door lock and unlock, as well as remote engine start and basic smartphone operation.

Starting this year, Amazon Alexa will be included with new Toyota vehicles equipped with the Entune 3.0 App Suite, as well as new Lexus vehicles equipped with the Enform App Suite 2.0. Toyota says the lineup of Alexa-equipped models will expand in 2019.

Meanwhile, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are still not included in Toyota’s lineup, which is a bit of a head-scratcher considering the platforms are two of the most popular smartphone support systems for modern passenger cars today. It’s great that Toyota and Lexus are stepping up their connectivity game, but with competitors flocking to Android and Apple, we can’t help but wonder how far Alexa will actually carry the brand in terms of winning over consumers.


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