Echo & Alexa User Discussions and Support Forums

General Category => Amazon Echo Discussion => Topic started by: jwlv on July 10, 2019, 08:36:06 am

Title: Echo Auto - First Impressions
Post by: jwlv on July 10, 2019, 08:36:06 am
After waiting nearly 8 months, I finally got my Echo Auto invitation two days ago. It was delivered yesterday and here are my initial impressions.

Well, it's really nothing special. It's basically the same as any other Echo device, except it's in your car.

The one significant thing about the Echo Auto is it uses Bluetooth for its data connection rather than WiFi. It does not support WiFi at all. When you first set it up through the Alexa app, it will connect to your phone's Bluetooth. Then you have an option to use Bluetooth for the Echo Auto's audio output or connect a 3.5mm audio cord to your car's AUX port.

The Echo Auto gets its power from a micro USB connection. Amazon included a USB cord as well as a 3.5mm audio cord and a plug with two USB ports for the car's 12v accessory socket. You only need to use one USB port for the Echo Auto. The other one is open to whatever you want to use it for, maybe your phone's charger cord.

It appears that the Echo Auto's main hardware is the 8-microphone array, a Bluetooth chip, and probably not much else. All of the heavy lifting is done on your phone via the Alexa app. All Alexa responses are sent via Bluetooth to your car's stereo or if you are using the AUX audio cord, sent to the Echo Auto which outputs through the 3.5mm AUX audio cord.

I suppose an Echo Dot can do everything an Echo Auto can do since it does have Bluetooth and a 3.5mm audio port. But that's only IF (a very big IF) Amazon enables the Dot to use Bluetooth for its data connection.

One benefit to using the Echo Auto is the size. It's pretty slim and doesn't attract unnecessary attention. It's smaller than a deck of cards. I'd say it's probably about 3/4 the size of a standard deck of cards. It comes with a nice rubberized mount. It also turns on quickly. I assume that's because the Alexa app is the one that does all the work. The Echo Auto is treated like a Bluetooth audio device on the phone. So it doesn't take long to turn on or to connect.

The data it uses will be from your cell phone's data plan. Keep that in mind since many cell phone plans have a monthly allotment of data that if you go over, it could be very costly. I don't worry about that since my plan is "unlimited" until I reach a certain GB and then the speed is throttled (lowered) until my next month.

Is it worth $24.99 (invitational price)? Yea, I think so. If you're immersed in Alexa inside your house like I am (I have 8 Echo devices) then you'll definitely appreciate being able to use Alexa while in the car. Is it worth $49.99 (regular price)? Yes, I would buy it for $49.99. It's something nice to have and it won't break the bank to buy it.

Title: Re: Echo Auto - First Impressions
Post by: Laurel on July 10, 2019, 06:03:10 pm
Jwlv, I have a question please. If I take the Echo Auto out of my car each night, do I have to go through the whole set up process again? I thought I would take it out so it doesn't get stolen. I find the whole process of setting it up each time a bit tedious if that is what I have to do. Are you just leaving yours in your car hooked up all the time? Do you worry about it accidentally using data if you do that?  Thanks for any expertise and help.  So far I am thinking it is nice to have the music I like at hand, but I'm not sure I'm up to pairing each time.  When I say pairing, I mean it seems I have to go through the whole new device set up once I unplug the Echo Auto.
Title: Re: Echo Auto - First Impressions
Post by: kenf on July 10, 2019, 08:22:04 pm
using my phone's Alexa app sounds like a red flag.

I'm on an iPhone.

If I say "Alexa, what time is it?"

Is it just gonna work like in my house?  Or do I need to load up the Alexa app first?



Title: Re: Echo Auto - First Impressions
Post by: Laurel on July 10, 2019, 10:09:37 pm
Kenf you need to download the Alexa App to use Echo Auto.

Jwlv I am figuring things out!  I wasn't actually connected to Bluetooth in my car. So now I can unplug and take it out without having to go through the set up process.  We also figured out a hidden spot to set up Echo Auto near the USB port and it is well out of sight so I can leave it connected in the car, and we tested that is shuts down when we turn off the car so I am not going to use data accidentally.  I am loving it now that I am getting the hang of it. Thanks for your first impressions!!
Title: Re: Echo Auto - First Impressions
Post by: jwlv on July 11, 2019, 12:55:26 am
Jwlv, I have a question please. If I take the Echo Auto out of my car each night, do I have to go through the whole set up process again? I thought I would take it out so it doesn't get stolen. I find the whole process of setting it up each time a bit tedious if that is what I have to do. Are you just leaving yours in your car hooked up all the time? Do you worry about it accidentally using data if you do that?  Thanks for any expertise and help.  So far I am thinking it is nice to have the music I like at hand, but I'm not sure I'm up to pairing each time.  When I say pairing, I mean it seems I have to go through the whole new device set up once I unplug the Echo Auto.

I don't plan to take the Echo Auto out of my car ever. I just leave it in the car. Most car's 12v accessory socket turns off automatically when the car shuts off. I've seen a few trucks that stays on. You should test that in your vehicle just to be sure.  Whether you take the Echo Auto out of your car every night, it will pair automatically when it's turned back on. Think of the Echo Auto as a standalone Bluetooth speaker or a Bluetooth headset. When it turns on, it should connect to your phone automatically. You don't need to set it up again. Because it's Bluetooth, the range is rather short. If you're more than 10 or 15 feet away, it will be too far to maintain the connection. Even if the Echo Auto remains on, it won't be connected to your phone any more just because of the distance. I have an unlimited data plan on my phone so I don't worry about how much data it will use. But it's a good idea to keep an eye on how much data it's using for the first few days so that you don't go over your plan's allotment.
Title: Re: Echo Auto - First Impressions
Post by: jwlv on July 11, 2019, 01:04:06 am
using my phone's Alexa app sounds like a red flag.

I'm on an iPhone.

If I say "Alexa, what time is it?"

Is it just gonna work like in my house?  Or do I need to load up the Alexa app first?

Unlike other Echo devices, the Echo Auto requires the Alexa app on your phone. It won't work without it. The Alexa app is the Echo Auto's internet connection. For home Echo devices, your WiFi router is their internet connection. If you take the WiFi router away, they won't work any more. Similarly if you take the Alexa app away, the Echo Auto won't work any more.

Besides the difference in connection requirements, the Echo Auto works the same as other Echo devices. If you ask, "What time is it?" You'll get the same answer as the Echo devices in your house. You do not need to activate or open the Alexa app manually. You can keep your iPhone in your pocket the entire time if you want. The Alexa app must be installed on your phone. You don't ever need to touch the Alexa app again if you don't want to.
Title: Re: Echo Auto - First Impressions
Post by: Laurel on July 11, 2019, 11:34:10 am
Jwlv thanks for explaining things.  One more question.  Is there any advantage to hooking up to my car's accessory system? Right now I have it connected to the USB port that goes into the media system. I do have the capability of using the accessory system.  I will show my ignorance here in that I thought if I hooked into the accessory system, it would not play through the car's speakers.  I gather that is not true?  My phone has a data warning system which I can set up to warn me when I am over a certain amount of data. I just have 4 GB monthly so I will keep an eye on that. Thanks.
Title: Re: Echo Auto - First Impressions
Post by: jwlv on July 12, 2019, 08:36:12 am
The audio from the Echo Auto goes through either the 3.5mm audio cord or through Bluetooth. Your choice.
Title: Re: Echo Auto - First Impressions
Post by: Laurel on July 12, 2019, 01:09:19 pm
Thanks jwlv.
Title: Re: Echo Auto - First Impressions
Post by: tthoben on July 14, 2019, 09:35:20 am
I have also waited and received the invitation about 2 weeks ago. After much thought and reading the reviews, I decided not to purchase the echo but use one of my spare echo dots in the car instead. To me it's still an experimental product but maybe with future updates it can finally have a killer feature (or two) that I'll be willing to part with my money for.

As it is now, you just need a nice mobile phone holder (which doesn't cost USD25) and use the Alexa app on your phone which can do everything the echo auto can do at this moment
Title: Re: Echo Auto - First Impressions
Post by: kendoori on July 14, 2019, 12:30:47 pm
I just installed it too. The USB cable is too long, and really should be a right angle cable on the Alexa side. Fortunately, I have a right angle USB cable that's relatively short. They should also have included a cable clip of some sort to manage the cable to the charger dangle. I am going to order one to keep the cable away from my infotainment system.

I had assumed that I would be able to use it to trigger apps on my phone (e.g. Waze, Google maps). I am on Android. I also had hoped that I could use it to send or read aloud Gmail and texts. I can kinda do these things via "OK Google" but they are clunky and required multiple steps. I would like to say, "Alexa, navigate to Home using Waze,"  or "Alexa, send a text to Mom."

Am I being unreasonable to expect to do these things?
Title: Re: Echo Auto - First Impressions
Post by: Laurel on July 14, 2019, 08:58:25 pm
I found the USB cable too long as well and bought a one foot one. Can't answer many questions to help at all yet. But I found my Echo Auto wouldn't stay connected and then found this about battery optimization.  Hope it helps others. I know when I bought my fitness Motiv ring I had to turn off battery optimization for it to work properly.  I have just turned it off for Amazon Alexa. Fingers crossed as I was ready to chuck my Echo Auto as I could not keep it connected and was re-setting a zillion times.  This is what was written elsewhere:
"I've got some new information to share that may help us all! For Echo Auto to work properly, we may need to turn off Battery Optimization for Alexa. The process will look a bit different depending on which phone you have, but the general steps are to go to Settings on your Phone, and find Battery. In Battery Settings, find Optimization/Power, then Alexa, and make sure "Don't Optimize" is selected.
I'll share my experience doing this, because my phone had it setup differently than the steps above.  On Galaxy S9+,  in Battery Settings, I turned off Power Saving Mode, and scrolled down to see Alexa was set as an "Always Sleeping" app. I switched that option off for Alexa. I've only taken a few short drives since adjusting this setting, but so far I am seeing improvement."
Title: Re: Echo Auto - First Impressions
Post by: Laurel on July 29, 2019, 09:59:14 pm
Concerning Echo Auto, I was having a terrible time getting the Echo Auto to go back and forth between my android phone and hubby's iphone. But the secret is to just give the Echo Auto about 5 minutes after you get in to pair up with the correct phone.  It is very smooth now and I am totally thrilled with Echo Auto and I am in Canada where it isn't available.  Best buy I have made in a long while.  Love it!
Title: Re: Echo Auto - First Impressions
Post by: DerbyDad03 on July 30, 2019, 03:39:08 pm
Concerning Echo Auto, I was having a terrible time getting the Echo Auto to go back and forth between my android phone and hubby's iphone. But the secret is to just give the Echo Auto about 5 minutes after you get in to pair up with the correct phone. 


What am I supposed to do during those 5 minutes...talk to myself?

Oh...wait. I already do that.  :o
Title: Re: Echo Auto - First Impressions
Post by: Laurel on July 30, 2019, 06:41:58 pm
Concerning Echo Auto, I was having a terrible time getting the Echo Auto to go back and forth between my android phone and hubby's iphone. But the secret is to just give the Echo Auto about 5 minutes after you get in to pair up with the correct phone. 


What am I supposed to do during those 5 minutes...talk to myself?

Oh...wait. I already do that.  :o
LOL. Whistle a tune maybe?  It is getting much faster syncing each time now. Maybe 30 seconds to a minute.
Title: Re: Echo Auto - First Impressions
Post by: bubffan on August 18, 2019, 06:19:30 pm
I've had my Echo Auto for a couple months and like it even though my SUV has a pretty modern system.  I set it up using the Bluetooth connection.  The one thing I don't like at all is the lack of quality when I ask it to play music.  Should I have set it up with the aux cable?  The music plays through my speakers but sounds like it's not going through my good amp.  Any ideas?
Title: Re: Echo Auto - First Impressions
Post by: Laurel on September 10, 2019, 01:11:27 pm
I love the Echo Auto, but I will have to stop using it as it is sucking up all my data when streaming music.  I don't stream much --maybe tops would be half an hour a day while commuting. I have a 4 GB plan and it is going to use most of it.  So I guess I have to stop using it. Sad but I can't afford to use my whole plan for half an hour daily of music.
Title: Re: Echo Auto - First Impressions
Post by: Gp56 on September 13, 2019, 03:50:22 pm
Just got my echo auto.Went thru the setup, all way well, played thru my cars Bluetooth audio.  It seems that after giving Alexa a couple of commands that work after that if I say Alexa the blue light goes on, then shuts and no commands are recognized.  In the Alexa app it say not connected but when I check phoneís Bluetooth settings it says it is connected.  If I unplug the echo auto and then plug back in it works again for a couple of commands and thatís it, same cycle begins again.  Any ideas what could be wrong?  I even deleted the device and then went thru setup again with the same results!

I just brought it in the house, connected it to power, worked for about 5 commands, did the same thing, blue light comes on then shuts as I am talking to it.
Title: Re: Echo Auto - First Impressions
Post by: Laurel on September 13, 2019, 09:26:52 pm
My Echo Auto generally works perfectly now, but there will be days when reception can be poor. I chalk it up to atmospheric conditions and it loses the connection.
Title: Re: Echo Auto - First Impressions
Post by: Gp56 on September 14, 2019, 11:25:32 pm
I think I got mine working as it should.  It appears it needed a firmware update!
Title: Re: Echo Auto - First Impressions
Post by: scottrods on September 17, 2019, 08:40:58 pm
After what... eight months... I finally got my invitation and ordered my Echo Auto... I'll try and remember to fill you in on yet another experience...
Title: Re: Echo Auto - First Impressions
Post by: kenf on September 18, 2019, 09:00:52 am
got my invite on Monday, wife did not.  ordered and it'll be here Friday.

Then we'll see how it goes.
Title: Re: Echo Auto - First Impressions
Post by: Laurel on September 18, 2019, 03:35:17 pm
When you hook it up in your car and start driving, give it about two minutes or so before you ask for music or whatever.  I takes a couple of minutes for it to sync up. I was too impatient in the beginning and didn't think it was working.
Title: Re: Echo Auto - First Impressions
Post by: kenf on September 19, 2019, 09:00:23 am
When you hook it up in your car and start driving, give it about two minutes or so before you ask for music or whatever.  I takes a couple of minutes for it to sync up. I was too impatient in the beginning and didn't think it was working.

Good to know.  We'll see how it works out, probably this weekend when I have time to mess with it.
Title: Re: Echo Auto - First Impressions
Post by: scottrods on September 19, 2019, 07:59:16 pm
Got mine today... Cord's too short to connect the power to the provided normal connections... Although I have a later model vehicle, I want to mount the head above the windshield to the overhead console (Sunglasses box lid), and the provided micro USB cord is only a 3 footer... I've ordered a 10 foot cable to allow for my mount. May have to also adapt the audio cord as well, but will try bluetooth first... Looks pretty simple. I work nights and sleep days, so might be a week or so before I get this done...
Title: Re: Echo Auto - First Impressions
Post by: Laurel on September 19, 2019, 08:35:05 pm
Got mine today... Cord's too short to connect the power to the provided normal connections... Although I have a later model vehicle, I want to mount the head above the windshield to the overhead console (Sunglasses box lid), and the provided micro USB cord is only a 3 footer... I've ordered a 10 foot cable to allow for my mount. May have to also adapt the audio cord as well, but will try bluetooth first... Looks pretty simple. I work nights and sleep days, so might be a week or so before I get this done...
I use the USB plug in the back seat which is between the front passengers and  run the cord to the front beside the driver's seat and I have a little cubby by the driver's seat cup holders where I have the Echo Auto attached.  It hears my voice easily and all passengers easy to give commands.
Title: Re: Echo Auto - First Impressions
Post by: kenf on September 23, 2019, 09:13:11 am
Got it setup Saturday with no problem

I'm debating on whether to use the lighter adapter for power or the USB jack on my car stereo.  At the moment, I've chosen the USB jack because the lighter stays on after the truck is turned off.

Either way, I have to put the cables and Alexa away between trips because crooks like sweeping the neighborhood looking for open doors and stuff in sight.

testing wise:
"what time is it" worked fine every time I powered up, quickly enough.  That's my is this thing working test.

"Play NPR" prompted for a station, and then did nothing the first time.

The second time, it recognized I'd set the station and still did nothing.

Tried "Play Iron Maiden" and that kicked in via Pandora.

Then retried NPR one more time, and it finally came through.  No clue why it wasn't playing the first two times.

Not much of a test, but I wasn't in my truck much this weekend.

My stereo doesn't have bluetooth, so I used the aux cable.

For what I expect to use it for, it's alright.  I wouldn't pay $50 though.

The wife's unit arrives today.
Title: Re: Echo Auto - First Impressions
Post by: scottrods on September 23, 2019, 09:45:51 am
SO... I Did actually go out yesterday when my Extended USB cable showed up, and do a rough fly by type install... not a fan so far of that part, but the Alexa part... Pretty quick, seamless, easy set up (once you realize your phone's volume is turned all the way down and you need at least *some* volume to hear the test sound and for Alexa to give responses and feedback... Feasibly, you could mount the control head anywhere in the car as long as the device hears you prompt for responses. (I do not like the vent install thingy that my Echo Auto came with...) I will be ordering some rare earth magnets of decent size to mount with through the headliner above the rear view... hiding the cable along the headliner will also be done using the magnets to set the wiring behind... Considering buying and installing a cig. ltr adapter behind the dash to hide the other end of the wire. I have a USB port to charge from or hook up a USB thumb drive for tunes, so I don't use the Echo Auto for music at all... but commute info and shopping stuff is easily handled by making lists while I drive now, which is cool since now I need not pull out the phone to talk with Siri about an addition to a list...

I'm sure there will be other things I learn to like and use with this one... Pretty cool and easy to work with. Again the only thing I didn't like was the mounting stuff... Pretty much have to cover up most of a vent to use the one they sent, so I will be finding an alternative way to mount it...
Title: Re: Echo Auto - First Impressions
Post by: kenf on September 23, 2019, 03:57:01 pm
I used the sticky flat mount that came in the Echo Auto box, not the vent mount which would have blocked my life giving air conditioning flow.

Plus, the sticky mount fit into a tiny cubby below my stereo so it's out of the way, and except for the cables, out of sight.

probably do the same for the wife's car, but on top of the dash instead (though direct sun/heat would be worse up there).

Got some thinking to do, hers arrived this afternoon.
Title: Re: Echo Auto - First Impressions
Post by: kenf on September 23, 2019, 06:28:41 pm
Setup for the wife is done.

During the unpack, I noticed there wasn't the flat mount with alcohol wipe that mine came with.

That's unexpected. Did anybody else get (or not get) a flat rubbery mount with the square magnetic docking plate and an alcohol wipe in the same box as the Echo Auto?  It's about the same length/width as the Echo, so it's meant to be a flat surface mount.

Title: Re: Echo Auto - First Impressions
Post by: jwlv on September 23, 2019, 07:56:38 pm
Interesting to hear that yours did not come with the flat rubbery mount. Mine came with it. But I heard some people got a vent mount. Mine did not come with a vent mount.
Title: Re: Echo Auto - First Impressions
Post by: kenf on September 23, 2019, 08:21:51 pm
Interesting to hear that yours did not come with the flat rubbery mount. Mine came with it. But I heard some people got a vent mount. Mine did not come with a vent mount.

The one I ordered under my name came with both (the vent mount is a separate box)

the one my wife ordered came with 2 boxes, but there wasn't a flat mount

When we ordered, Amazon listed it as 2 items in the cart for half the $25 price, so they added up right.

That's a strange inconsistency between orders.

Title: Re: Echo Auto - First Impressions
Post by: JCDinPGH on September 24, 2019, 11:35:09 am
I agree that the Echo auto does not provide anything radically new. I have a skill installed called "My Media For Alexa" which gives me full access to my MP3/FLAC collection on any Echo device. Having voice access to my music library in my car is amazing. It was the main reason I opted in for the early access for the Echo auto. Also having the ability to turn on lights as I come up the driveway is also a bonus although most are already on a schedule. I also purchased an ISY994i module for opening/closing the garage so I will now be able to open the garage via voice or via geofencing as I get closer to home.
Title: Re: Echo Auto - First Impressions
Post by: kenf on September 24, 2019, 06:22:20 pm
I agree that the Echo auto does not provide anything radically new. I have a skill installed called "My Media For Alexa" which gives me full access to my MP3/FLAC collection on any Echo device. Having voice access to my music library in my car is amazing. It was the main reason I opted in for the early access for the Echo auto. Also having the ability to turn on lights as I come up the driveway is also a bonus although most are already on a schedule. I also purchased an ISY994i module for opening/closing the garage so I will now be able to open the garage via voice or via geofencing as I get closer to home.

yeah, similar thoughts.  I've got SmartThings, so it already knows if it is "night" and turns on the lights when I arrive home because of geofencing and my phone.  ST does more of the heavy lifting for me of automating. 

I see Alexa for voice commands when I need hands free.  Even the wife isn't sure what she'll do with it, but since she listens to podcasts, she should be able to launch one while driving. or be frustrated that it didn't continue or launch the right one.  Who knows.

my truck is dumber than her car, so I got a bluetooth car speaker phone for $25 :)  She's already got a BT stereo with microphone.  I kept her wired just to avoid conflict with that existing setup to her phone.

I've used it once when I set it up. I work from home and I keep the Echo put away when I get out of the truck.  So for short trips to the store, I'm not even gonna dig it out. Thereby losing value there for spontaneous commands. Thieves (and the risk thereof) ruin everything.1

I think these kind of usability/security issues are a larger impact for adoption than what it can actually do. Ideally, I want it always ready for the moment I do need it, not because I use it all the time. And I can't do that in my neighborhood.

Title: Re: Echo Auto - First Impressions
Post by: M.p.rohde@att.net on September 28, 2019, 01:36:39 pm
I am really frustrated when playing music from Amazon Music. It cuts out ALL OF THE TIME. Sometimes, it will speed up for a second or two, as if it is trying to catch up to where it should be.

Also, some days it just keeps saying it canít connect to my phone.

It seems worse in the city than it does on the highway, as if every tree and light pole is blocking the WiFi.
Title: Re: Echo Auto - First Impressions
Post by: kenf on October 03, 2019, 09:32:08 am
It's been a week or so.  The Echo Auto has been plugged in twice.  Otherwise, spends a lot of time in the glove compartment.

I don't have a daily commute, so a trip to the corner store and back isn't worth pulling it out.  And leaving it setup is a security risk. Sweeps by door checkers are a weekly occurrence in my part of town. And in other cases, crooks just bash a window in if they think something's in there.

I tried to place a call, but you definitely have to enable Alexa to access your contacts or something for that to work. Haven't received a call yet (again, not hooked up enough to happen).

If you're wearing a bluetooth headset, that or the Echo will vie for dominance for where the phone audio goes. It's a little weird.

Title: Re: Echo Auto - First Impressions
Post by: scottrods on October 03, 2019, 10:17:04 am
I've been running mine daily for about a week too... I always play music from my phone (not data on the Alexa, but downloaded music Ive had for a while mostly). No problem exists in that unless you ask Alexa "how is my commute?" before the audio tracks start up, then it sits with no sound until you start up Apple Music manually... Cool part is, Alexa controls the tracks by voice no problem. Just call out "Alexa, Next song." or another navigation command and she's on it. Perfect. (well... perfect for me). No huge issue with data usage as long as I use my own music, however Alexa causes several things to check with other services for location and such to have info available that relates to you and your current location... not a bunch of data used up with that.

The audio is just what it is... through my radio, it sounds fine. Nothing audiophile happening inside any actual cars any way, no matter how much you pay for the car... there will be noises you cannot completely squash... (OK maybe a little hyperbolic, but there would be very few cars in the world if ANY that could claim audiophile quite ambience... but still)

All in all I'm very satisfied with the whole thing. It's funny though... if you already have SIRI and a compatible radio... it's pretty much the same... just make the command it it happens...
Title: Re: Echo Auto - First Impressions
Post by: VKSheridan on October 20, 2019, 12:40:31 pm
I havenít used mine much but Iíve already found some differences between the auto and the Dot/Show devices I have.  I can open and close my MyIQ garage door with my home devices but I get ďthat feature is not available at this timeĒ response from my Echo Auto.  Seems silly so I asked for the status of the door, same response.  Ditto with my front door locks.  One could argue itís a good security thing but using a passcode like my home devices use could address that.  Hard to unlock the house and open the garage as I approach using my voice instead of an app.  Still digging for other nuances but those are a couple that Iíve seen.  Good news is I think I can turn on my porch light from the car.  Will update more as I learn more.