Alexa is coming to cars, thanks to new Amazon developer kit

Amazon is moving into the in-car entertainment space after releasing a new developer kit to help manufacturers install Alexa within car dashboards.

The move means that, if adopted by vehicle makers, drivers of Alexa-enabled cars will be able to use voice to listen to music in-car without the need for extra hardware.

Other voice-controlled functions enabled by the Alexa Auto SDK include making calls, navigation and searching for local restaurants, landmarks etc.

“The Alexa Auto SDK simplifies the integration of Alexa into in-vehicle infotainment systems,” said Amazon in a blog post. “The SDK brings the Alexa experience that has delighted customers at home into the vehicle. It adds automotive-specific functionality and contextualizes the experience for the vehicle.”

The function would differ to Apple’s CarPlay or Android Auto, which both allow smartphone users to access and operate their phone’s home screen within a car’s dashboard.

Amazon’s blog added: “[Alexa Auto] includes source code and function libraries in C++ and Java that enable your vehicle to process audio inputs and triggers, establish a connection with Alexa, and handle all Alexa interactions. It also includes sample applications, build scripts, sequence diagrams and documentation – supporting both Android and QNX operating systems on ARM and x86 processor architectures.”

Thanks in part to a two-year head start, Amazon is ruling the home speaker market.

The Alexa-enabled Amazon Echo took a 70% share of the 50m smart speakers that were sold in the US by August this year, according to CIRP research.

Google Home took a 24% share while Apple HomePod has 6%, after launching in May this year.

Amazon is positioning voice control at the center of its music streaming service, aiming to become the digital equivalent of going into a record store and asking for recommendations and music that users don’t know the title of.

After launching towards the end of 2016, Amazon Music has surpassed “tens of millions” of paying subscribers – suggesting it is now comfortably above 20m.

This figure includes both Amazon’s premium Music Unlimited subscribers and its music-listening Amazon Prime members, who are offered a limited-catalog platform for free.Music Business Worldwide

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