‘Chris’ wants to be your new best friend while you're driving

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While you may still be waiting for the day when you can kick back and truly let your car drive you to work by itself, you can at least have an in-car assistant to make your journey a little easier.

There are of course the likes of Apple Carplay, Android Auto, and more recently Alexa, but now there’s one more contender that’s hoping to join the race to be your in-car assistant.

‘Chris’ is the brainchild of German Autolabs, which raised €278,720, or around $340,000 in funding on Kickstarter last year. The company has now made Chris available for pre-order via its website, retailing currently for €199 (around $240 / $175 / AU$320) with plans to ship in "summer 2018" (so likely June-August).

Like most other digital assistants, Chris aims to help you manage calls, send messages, and easily stream music in your car without having to fumble dangerously for your phone. It sports a 2.1-inch TFT display, and is compatible with both Android and iOS smartphones.

What makes Chris a little bit more special is that is supports offline speech recognition and maps, so even if your phone’s data connection drops out it’ll still be able to understand or navigate you.

There are also gesture controls. You can wave left or right to scroll through lists, or bring your palm near or far to control volume or confirm commands.

Chris will integrate with messaging apps such as SMS, email, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger. It can also stream music from Apple Music, Google Music, and music stored on your smartphone. German Autolabs has said that further app compatibility will come in the form of quick software updates, administered via the companion app.