Good news owners of new Fords, you're about to benefit from the power of Amazon Alexa inside, and outside of your vehicles for free (for the first three years at least).
Ford and Amazon have announced an update in their connected car partnership which will see a free, over-the-air software update sent to newer Ford vehicles, enabling the Alexa voice assistant.
It comes as part of Ford's remote 'Power Up' updates for its vehicles, which will bring things such as new features, enhanced performance and various fixes to cars over time, without having to visit a dealership.
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Owners of the Ford F-150 truck and the new, all-electric Mustang Mach-E will be first in line for the Alexa update when it rolls out in the coming months, with Bronco the next in line to receive the new software.
Ford says it plans to start rolling out the Alexa update this fall and expects it to reach 700,000 vehicles in the US and Canada by the end of 2021, with more to follow in the coming years, with Ford Edge and Super Duty trucks also in line for Alexa skills.
At this time, Ford hasn't revealed any plans to bring this update to markets outside of the US and Canada.
Alexa skills on demand
This isn't the first time we've seen Alexa make its way into Ford vehicles, as back in 2017 the two firms managed to bring the smart assistant into the car via a smartphone application - but the implementation wasn't smooth and seamless.
With the new software update, Alexa will be baked directly into the vehicle's infotainment system, allowing you to use the 'Alexa' wake word to trigger the assistant.
It means you'll be able to ask things such as; "Alexa, play top hits", "Alexa, join my conference call", "Alexa, find gas", “Alexa, call mom” and "Alexa, pay for gas" while driving. You'll also be able to use Alexa to control media playback, find out about weather and traffic conditions, and of course, purchase things from Amazon.
You’ll also be able to control your at-home devices from your car, such as smart bulbs, thermostats and more.
Plus, you'll also be able to control various functions of your Ford from the comfort of your own home if you own any Alexa-enabled smart speakers or displays.
From locking and unlocking the doors, to peering out the window in the morning, assessing the weather and then asking "Alexa, defrost my car" or "Alexa, start my car and turn on AC", you can ensure your vehicle is ready to roll as soon as you leave the house.
However, the update does come with a word of warning. Ford says the Alexa integration will be "complimentary for the first three years" in terms of the mobile data required for the service to operate.
What Ford hasn't made clear is what happens once your three complimentary years are up, and how much the service will potentially set you back monthly or annually to keep it working.
There's an updating arriving in the coming weeks
There are more Power Up software updates in the works too, with one set to roll out in the coming weeks bringing a variety of things to Sync 4 F-150 and Sync 4A Mach-E vehicles, including an Apple CarPlay enhancement for turn-by-turn navigation which will see directions mirrored in the instrument cluster.
It’ll also bring a digital owner’s manual to vehicles, plus an update to built-in navigation, to offer more useful suggestions along with conversational voice commands combined with internet-based search.
Ford wants these new features to make your life easier, and when it comes to Alexa it's expecting to offer the same experience that you get with the smart assistant at home. Whether it can achieve that remains to be seen, and we'll put it to the test when it's available later this year.