Ride with me, Alexa!
By Anand Parthasarathy
September 16 2019: The Echo smart speakers from Amazon and similar Google Home options have found good traction from younger buyers who like the comforting presence of a friendly voice you can talk to. Now with Viva Pro a product from ROAV, the car accessory brand of Chinese battery and charger specialist, Anker, you can extend the reach of Alexa to your car. The makers have cleverly built the speaker ( and two microphones) into what most car owners carry: a phone charger that plugs into what is known as the lighter socket in the dashboard. Viva can sync with your car music player or FM radio or mobile phone via multiple options: Bluetooth, the audio cable port or by tuning into an empty FM band.
Once you have set up the Android or iOS app on your phone, you can speak to Alexa, asking for a particular music track, or driving directions or a name on your phonebook to call. As Alexa -- great eavesdropper that she is -- does, she listens on the time -- but you can turn her ears off by switching off the blue ring of light on the device. You can also mute the mikes-- indicated when the LED turns red.
I asked the usual inane questions like : Alexa what time is it? or, Alexa what movies are playing in Inox and it worked in its coolly efficient fashion. One small caveat: The car is a moving vehicle with steady background noise so be prepared for an Alexa who is not always crystal clear or who is a bit slow on the uptake. And yes, Viva Pro also charges two phones simultaneously. Good deal, all things considered, for Rs 5490.