As we all know, technology never stops evolving…or listening. Does it bother you that so many of these “devices” listen to our conversations just waiting to help us? Well, as our devices become more interactive with our vehicles, our vehicles are becoming more interactive with everything else.
Our friends at Carbuzz report that Amazon Alexa has already made its way into a lot of vehicles, but Fiat Chrysler is the first automaker to sign up to use Alexa Custom Assistant, Amazon’s new AI-based technology. On Friday, the two companies announced that Alexa Custom Assistant will work alongside FCA’s proprietary in-car voice assistant to offer an integrated experience. Using AI, the system will figure out if you are making a vehicle-related command for the FCA’s Uconnect assistant to deal with, or if Alexa should deal with media control, handle smart home devices, or remind you to pick up the kids later.
In theory, this solves the issues of proprietary infotainment software fighting with systems that customers already enjoy and already carry around in their pocket. Now, drivers won’t need to remember two wakeup phrases to access two different systems. Amazon claims, “this allows the brand’s assistant to act as the product specialist, while Alexa is still available to help with everyday needs.”
The company also says that it will help automakers reduce the “cost, complexity, and time to market” of new infotainment systems. And the best part? FCA won’t charge for it the way some other automakers do for similar features.
Automakers will also be able to set the system up to use custom wake-up words, voices, and capabilities. This will allow different brands to inflect their personalities into the systems and create full experiences relative to their vehicles. What we’re hoping is that you get a different voice for, say, a Jeep Wrangler over a Chrysler 300 or a Maserati. As it stands, FCA says the planning process for the integration of the Alexa Custom Assistant in future models is already underway.
Amazon also mentioned that Alexa is making its way into Lamborghini and Rivian vehicles and control basic functions like the windows and climate control as well as media and phone calls. That sounds like Alexa Custom Assistant, but Amazon hasn’t revealed if those brands are actually using the new product yet.
The fight for what or who is the best “assistant” remains.
Google Assistant is very impressive. It can handle multiple queries at once, personalised results by recognising a voice profile and it has the power of Google search behind it, making it very accurate. The wake words aren’t very personal though, it isn’t compatible with as many apps and services as Alexa and it isn’t as funny as Siri.
Amazon Alexa isn’t as dynamic as Google Assistant, or as smart, but it is compatible with hundreds of thousands of services and apps, the Alexa wake word is personal and customisable and it has features like Alexa Calling.
Apple’s Siri is by far the wittiest of the personal assistants, the one that allows you to speak the most naturally and it offers features like Siri Shortcuts that make getting things done quick and easy, but it is tied into Apple devices and it offers less compatibility with apps and services compared to Alexa and Google Assistant.
Each personal assistant has its pros and cons. If you want the smartest, you’ll want a device with Google Assistant. If you want the most compatibility with apps and services, you’ll want a device with Alexa. If you want the funniest, you’ll want an Apple device for Siri.
Bear in mind, if you have an Android or iOS phone, you can download the Google Assistant app and Alexa app from the App Store or Google Play Store. As mentioned, Siri is only available to Apple users so if you have an Apple device, you can pretty much have your cake and eat it with access to all three assistants.