Amazon releases Alexa Auto developer kit to the public

Now OEMs and other developers have the tools to bring Alexa fully into your car.

Kyle Hyatt Former news and features editor
Kyle Hyatt (he/him/his) hails originally from the Pacific Northwest, but has long called Los Angeles home. He's had a lifelong obsession with cars and motorcycles (both old and new).
Kyle Hyatt
Ben Fox Rubin/CNET

Amazon is sending Alexa out into the wild as a software developer kit, meant to be used by manufacturers to help integrate the digital assistant into their upcoming infotainment systems. It's kind of a big deal.

Some vehicle manufacturers committed to bringing Alexa into their cars earlier this year, including Ford, BMW, Toyota and Volkswagen, but this SDK opens the playing field to others and should give both Google and Apple a little cause for concern.

garmin speak with Alexa
Enlarge Image
garmin speak with Alexa

While a handful of OEMs and aftermarket suppliers are committed to Alexa Auto, opening up the developers kit to everyone will hopefully spur on many more.

Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

It's not just OEMs getting in on the fun either: Aftermarket companies like Anker and Garmin already have devices that bring Alexa to the car, but now the market will likely see quite a bit more choice. As someone who drives a 50-year-old car, this is especially interesting to me, though I shudder to think that somewhere in a deep, dark data center, Amazon is monitoring my LCD Soundsystem singalongs.

What is Amazon putting in the Alexa SDK? A lot, as it turns out, including speech recognition and synthesis, streaming media, smart home device control capabilities, notifications and weather reports. Alexa Auto will also let you do all the normal car infotainment stuff like calling, navigation and searching for local points of interest like restaurants and gas stations.

So, it's looking like we're staring into a bold new world in automotive infotainment, and I for one (because Alexa is probably monitoring me clandestinely as I write this) welcome it. If you're interested in playing with the Alexa Auto SDK, you can download it from GitHub.