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Amazon launches an Alexa Auto SDK to bring its voice assistant to more cars


Amazon this morning announced the launch of a toolkit for developers that will allow them to integrate Alexa into cars infotainment systems. The Alexa Auto SDK is available now on GitHub, and includes all the core Alexa functions like streaming media, smart home controls, weather reports, and support for Alexas tens of thousands of third-party skills. It will also add new features just for auto users, like navigation and search, Amazon says. The source code and function libraries will be in C++ and Java, allowing the vehicles to process audio inputs and triggers, then connect with the Alexa service, and handle the Alexa interactions. In addition, Amazon is offering a variety of sample apps, build scripts, and documentation supporting Android and QNX operating systems on ARM and x86 processor architectures. The SDK will allow for streaming media from Amazon Music, iHeartRadio, and Audible, for the time being, and will allow customers to place calls by saying the contacts name or phone number. These will be launched over the native calling service in the vehicle. Plus, it can tap into a native turn-by-turn navigation system, when customers specify an address or point of interest, or if they cancel the navigation. A local search feature lets customers search for restaurants, movie theaters, grocery stores, hotels, and other business, and navigate to the location. This is not the first time Alexa has come to cars, by any means. Amazon has been working with car makers like Ford, BMW, SEAT, Lexus and Toyota, who have been integrating the voice assistant into select vehicles. Alexa is also available in older cars through a variety of add-on devices, like those from Anker, Muse (Speak Music) , Garmin, and Logitech, for example. With this SDK, Amazon is opening the voice assistant to other developers building for auto, who dont yet have a relationship with Amazon.

Amazon launches Auto SDK to bring Alexa to more cars


Amazon today announced an open source release of the Alexa Automotive Core (AAC) SDK, or Auto SDK, to help automakers integrate Alexa voice control into cars and their infotainment systems, screens often used for navigation, media, or climate control. The software development kit is free for download on GitHub and is optimized for bringing Alexa to in-car dashboards to accomplish tasks common with hands-free voice control — like playing music, providing turn-by-turn directions from native navigation systems, helping people find local businesses, and making phone calls. The Auto SDK will also be able to do things Alexa can do in a smart speaker, such as control smart home devices, check the weather, and launch Alexa skills. In recent years, carmakers like Ford and Toyota have brought Alexa to some of their popular vehicles, and Alexa skills have been introduced by Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai, General Motors, and others to let you do things like unlock your car door with your smart speaker, but the launch of the Alexa Auto SDK represents the first time Amazon has made a development kit especially for vehicles. The Auto SDK comes from the Alexa Auto team, which was first formed last year and aims to help Alexa compete with Siri in Apples CarPlay, Google Assistant in Android Auto, and SoundHound, whose Houndify platform is being deployed for voice control in Hyundai cars and the Nvidia Drive autonomous vehicle platform. The team has worked with carmakers like Ford, as well as companies like Anker, whose Roav Viva gadget plugs into a cigarette lighter and brings Alexa into cars without an infotainment console for $50. The kit was open-sourced in order to make it easier for teams to collaborate with each other and to integrate Alexa into their products, particularly since in-car infotainment centers can vary widely by car brand and country, an Amazon spokesperson told VentureBeat in an email. As part of a sweeping plan to put Alexa everywhere, Amazon earlier this year introduced a mobile accessory kit to encourage hardware manufacturers to bring Alexa to wearable tech, wireless earbuds, and headphones. Other kits available to encourage hardware manufacturers to bring Alexa to their products include the Smart Home Skill API for smart home devices, the Gadgets SDK for game companies to make hardware that works with Alexa, and the Alexa Voice Service, the original kit for third-party Alexa integration into devices. The Auto SDK for infotainment consoles is the most recent step in a broader initiative to bring Amazons AI assistant to more surfaces with a visual interface. Since May, Alexa has been introduced in LG televisions and personal computers from HP, Acer, and select other brands, while Show Mode for Amazons Fire 10 tablets made its debut in June.