Ford has become the first carmaker to take Amazon's Alexa personal assistant on the road. The collaboration will let drivers search for music, add local destinations to the sat-nav, request news headlines and more through voice commands.
Alexa's arrival in Ford cars was announced at the CES technology show in Las Vegas. The personal assistant will be made available through the Sync 3 AppLink system already installed in a range of new Ford vehicles.
Access to Alexa on the move also means Ford drivers will be able to control their internet-connected smart home gadgets from the car. Lighting, security systems, garage doors and other Alexa-compatible devices can be controlled via voice commands while out on the road.
Tell your house to put the heating on because you are heading home early, then telling the garage door to open when you reach the house are two examples of how the system could be used. Conversely, owners of electric Ford vehicles can use Alexa in their home to remotely ask about the car's charge and battery status, estimated range, and lock or unlock the doors.
Similar to Apple's Siri, Alexa is a voice-activated personal assistant available on the Amazon Echo and Echo Dot Bluetooth speakers.
Although the Ford Sync system can already understand voice commands from the driver, Ford's partnering with Amazon suggests it sees greater potential in letting the retail giant's development of Alexa take over some of the heavy lifting.
Don Butler, executive director at Ford's Connected Vehicles and Services division, explains: "Ford and Amazon are aligned around a vision that your voice should be the primary way to interface with your favourite devices and services. Customers will be able to start their vehicles from home and manage smart home features while on the road – making life easier."
Alexa will begin appearing in Ford vehicles in two stages. Later in January the first stage will see Ford owners connect to their car from the Amazon Echo they have at home, to check fuel and range. Then, in the summer, the second stage will let them use Alexa while out on the road.
Steve Rabuchin, vice president of Amazon Alexa, said: "We're excited to work with Ford to enhance the driver experience both inside and outside of the vehicle. We believe voice is the future, and this is particularly true in cars. The ability to use your voice to control your smart home, access entertainment, manage to-do lists and more makes for an extraordinary driving experience."