- Ford and Amazon have partnered to bring the Alexa digital assistant to Ford’s vehicles via SYNC 3 AppLink in what the automaker is calling an industry first, according to a press release.
- An interesting feature for users is the Alexa connection bridges both home and car, meaning users can control smarthome functions like commanding lighting, security and garage doors from inside the car and control car functions like starting and stopping the engine and locking and unlocking doors from inside their home for owners of electric vehicles. While in the car, users can also perform web searches, listen to audiobooks, access navigation and update Amazon shopping lists.
- The Alexa integration will happen in two phases beginning with connecting to the car from in-home devices like Amazon Echo, Echo Dot and Amazon Tap later this month, and then in the summer Ford is expected to roll out Alexa voice control inside certain models.
The deal between Ford and Amazon points to how Amazon’s Alexa tech is moving beyond the home, extending its reach into the car space. Engaging consumers via the Internet of Things will be key for platforms and marketers going forward, and Amazon is looking to capitalize on its early lead with the Echo smart speaker to build a wide-ranging digital assistant.
Taking the time to learn how to best tap this new channel is important for marketers as voice controlled AI-driven devices become more ubiquitous. Marketers will need to refocus on audio-driven search, value-added interfaces and relevant ads to maximize this channel. A number of brands have already integrated with Alexa via skills, or the mini apps that drive engagement, and the deal with Ford will open up new ways for brands to reach users.
Turning vehicles into smartcars either through direct integration with the car’s hardware or via an automotive-specific app on smartphones is a growing trend. Google and Fiat Chrysler recently teamed up for an open-source Android platform for the next generation of connected cars, and Ford and Toyota just announced the SmartDeviceLink Consortium, a non-profit dedicated to open-source software for smartphone app development for cars that includes Mazda Motor Corporation, PSA Group, Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. (FHI) and Suzuki Motor Corporation.