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Garmin Speak with Amazon Alexa: A Virtual Assistant for the Car

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Alexa, the Amazon personal assistant that does everything from turning down your thermostat to finding and playing your favorite songs, has become a very popular member of many households. When used with the Amazon Echo, Alexa controls smart-home equipment, searches your music libraries, fills your shopping cart, checks the weather, and performs myriad other tasks, all in response to your spoken commands.

Now, Alexa can become a super-helpful passenger in your car. Thanks to Garmin Speak with Amazon Alexa, you have access to a huge range of services, literally for the asking. Mount the compact control unit on your windshield (it clings to a small adhesive-backed magnet), run the cord to your car’s power outlet, and via a Bluetooth connection to your smartphone, you’re ready for Alexa to do your bidding.

What can you ask Alexa to do? Tell you how to get where you’re going, for starters. It’s a Garmin product, after all, so naturally you can get turn-by-turn GPS navigation assistance and lane guidance. Simply say, “Alexa, ask Garmin …” and you’ll be guided to your destination. You’ll hear spoken directions and see arrows on the 1.5" screen of the cylindrical Garmin Speak unit.

But navigation is just the beginning of Garmin Speak with Alexa’s capabilities. Using your phone’s Bluetooth connection or an auxiliary cable, Alexa will play your music through your car stereo speakers, drawing from Amazon Music, Pandora, Sirius XM, and if you have it, Amazon Prime Music, with its library of 2 million songs. You can listen to your playlists, audiobooks, podcasts, radio stations, news, weather, or traffic reports. You can even ask Alexa to look something up for you on Wikipedia. You can make Prime shopping lists and ask Alexa to place items from Amazon’s massive inventory in your shopping cart. Check your stocks, write a to-do list, find the nearest gas station, make a dinner reservation—all without taking your eyes off the road or your hands off the wheel.

Along with commerce, information and entertainment, Garmin Speak with Alexa serves as a control device for a large and growing number of smart-home devices: switches, locks, lights, thermostats, home security. Why heat your home all day when you’re at work, when you can command Alexa bring it up to your preferred temperature during your evening commute?

Alexa’s capabilities will grow with time. The assistant has learned thousands of “skills,” or small specific apps relating to everything from business and finance to sports to children’s interests, and new ones are being added all the time. As Amazon says, Alexa “lives in the cloud so it’s always getting smarter.”

Garmin Speak with Alexa does come with requirements. You need to have a Bluetooth-enabled smartphone and a data connection, and you will need to download the free Garmin Speak app to your phone. If you don’t have a Bluetooth or Aux connection to your car stereo, your music, spoken directions and other audio will come from the speaker on the Garmin Speak unit itself.

Why should you only have a virtual assistant at home? And why should you do nothing but drive when you drive? Garmin Speak with Alexa will make your time behind the wheel productive and fun.

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