By adding Echo Auto to its line-up, Amazon extends the Echo and Alexa functionality to your car. The gadget is responsive, simple to use, and there are more than 50,000 skills that may be useful in your car.
When it comes to reading text messages, this functionality is not new and has been available on the Android Alexa app since 2018. It’s pretty easy to dictate messages to Echo Auto and ask it to read the texts for you. This write-up tells you how to do it and there is a quick overview of how to set it all up.
Before You Start
For the message read-outs to work, you need to set up Echo Auto first. Here’s a quick recap of all the necessary steps.
You need to make sure your smartphone runs the latest version of the Alexa app. Go to Play Store, check for updates, and install the update, if available.
Important Note: This and all the following steps apply to Android users, the text messages voice commands are still not available for iPhone users.
Connect Echo Auto to your car using the provided micro USB cable and the vehicle’s power adapter or USB port.
Then, you need to activate the Bluetooth on your smartphone and car stereo. Some stereos have an auxiliary port that works all the same if there’s no Bluetooth. However, you need to use the auxiliary cable to make the connection.
Go back to your smartphone, launch the Alexa app, and select the Devices icon at the bottom right of the screen.
Hit the Plus icon at the top-right of the screen, choose Add Device, and select Echo Auto from the devices list. From there on, you follow the on-screen wizard to complete the set-up.
Note: Expect to be asked to allow Echo Auto to access your microphone, car’s stereo, and your smartphone. This may depend on the model of your Android smartphone and car stereo.
Enabling Text Messages on Alexa App
Since Echo Auto connects to the Alexa app, you need to enable text messaging within the app itself. In most cases, this is not turned on by default for privacy and security reasons. Anyway, this is what you need to do.
Open the Conversations tab within the app and a pop-up appears informing you that the app is up-to-date.
Note: This is optional and happens only if you’ve recently updated the features.
Select “Go to My Profile” and tap on the button next to “Send SMS” to toggle on text messaging voice commands. Hit OK in the confirmation window to give the app necessary permissions and confirm by tapping on “Allow.”
You should now be able to use voice commands to order Echo Auto to send and read your text messages.
Voice Commands to Read Text Messages on Echo Auto
Once you have everything set-up and ready, reading or sending text messages via voice commands is pretty straightforward.
To have the messages read issue the “Ready my text messages.” command. You can tell Echo Auto to read the last message you’ve received or instruct the device to read messages from a specific contact. The commands are: “Alexa, read the last text message.” and “Alexa, read text messages from [contact name].”
How Is This Feature Different from Other Message Commands
Similar to Alexa voice calling, this feature sends text messages to most U.S.-based numbers. However, you can’t send a text message to an emergency service (911).
There is no option to send group messages, but you should be able to have a group message read to you. MMS messages are not supported either, but you can use other services or Alexa skills to send interactive messages.
More importantly, this is different from messaging options on previous Alexa/Echo devices because it doesn’t involve or support Echo to Echo messages. In other words, you can’t message another Echo Auto, but rather the contact’s number.
Being a speech to text (and vice versa) service, this doesn’t include sending voice messages.
Echo Auto – Useful Features
Aside from messaging and calling commands, Echo Auto offers a bunch of other features that may help you remain focused on your driving.
You have the option to play music, podcasts, and audiobooks. The supported services include, but may not be limited to Spotify, Amazon Music, NPR news, Sirius XM, Audible, and others.
You can also create shopping lists or add items to existing ones. Echo Auto voice commands allow you to check and add reminders and manage your appointments.
The directions are supported by Waze, Google Maps, and Apple Maps, and it’s easy to locate and pin a destination such as a restaurant, for example. What’s more, the gadget gives you the option to set location-based routines.
Alexa, Read TJ’s Text Messages
Some may question the Echo Auto’s viability since it shares a lot of the features that already exist on smartphones or come built-in with your vehicle. However, the biggest issue at the moment is the lack of support for iPhone. That being said, Echo Auto is still among the most affordable and versatile driver-assistance gadgets you can get.
Would you consider having text messages read outside the car? What are the Echo Auto skills you find the most useful? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.