Add starting your car to the list of tasks Amazon's personal assistant can take care of for you.
Ford says it's working to make its car infotainment system Sync compatible with the Amazon Echo. That means you'll be able to perform tasks such as starting your car from the comfort of your couch just by asking Alexa, Amazon's voice assistant that works through the Echo speaker. You can also ask the Echo to tell your Ford to start your car at a specific time or set it to a particular internal temperature, handy for those cold winter months.
Ford plans to make it easier to keep track of your car's status long before you're ready to walk out the door, too. In addition to starting the car using the Echo, you'll also be able to lock or unlock your vehicle, check its fuel level, learn its charge status if it's an electric vehicle, and find out the car's mileage summary.
But it's not just about controlling your car from your couch — Ford also says that you'll be able to access Alexa through a voice recognition button mounted on the car's steering wheel. That means you could use Alexa to control smart devices in your home. For example, you could ask Alexa if your garage door is closed or if your porch lights are turned on while you're en route. Ford is also working with the smart home platform Wink to make it easier to control home appliances from the car.
Ford hasn't said when Amazon's voice assistant will be ready for use in the car, but it's an indication that Amazon doesn't intend to be left out of the race to control your vehicle. This is Amazon's first major step towards integrating its services into automobiles, which comes more than a year after Apple and Google have introduced their respective CarPlay and Android Auto connected car platforms. Both services allow you to access Siri or Google Now through your car's dashboard, making it easier to make and receive phone calls, control the music playing in your car, and get directions on the go.
CarPlay and Android Auto, however, don't allow interaction between the car and your home the way Amazon's Alexa will — they're really meant for making it safer to use the features of your smartphone while driving.