Amazon brings Alexa digital assistant along for the ride with Toyota

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Toyota, one of the world's largest auto makers, plans to bring Amazon's Alexa to select Toyota and Lexus vehicles in the USA this year, the company announced today at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Vegas is also the place where many TV manufacturers show off sinfully large screens.

"In the smart-speaker market specifically", Bloomberg reports, "[market research firm] EMarketer estimates Echo will command a 68 percent share this year, compared with 25 percent for Google Home".

Ives expects "a big push" from the California search giant at the trade show, he said in a research note. Think of the Echo Show, which adds video to Amazon's Alexa. Analysts say some consumers find it more natural to manipulate smart devices like door locks, lightbulbs and televisions with their voice instead of smartphone apps or dedicated remotes.

"Voice services are rapidly becoming more popular and through our integration with Amazon Alexa, Toyota and Lexus customers will soon be able to easily speak to Alexa in their cars while on the go", said Toyota Connected CEO Zack Hicks. The company also unveiled the Acer V6820M/i 4K UHD projector, which also supports Amazon Alexa.

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Google Assistant is now on roughly 400 million devices, including Android smartphones.

Others, including Hyundai and Ford, have already made similar moves.

The company largely invented the modern smart-speaker category with the summer 2015 launch of the cylindrical Echo speaker. Amazon has also earlier launched Alexa Mobile Accessory kit, opening the gates for Alexa to headphones, smartwatches and fitness devices.

The Drive reached out to Toyota regarding which cars will receive Alexa integration first, the possibility of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto-equipped Toyotas, and recommendations for drivers less than thrilled with the idea of an always-on microphone embedded in their new vehicle.

The tie-up marks the latest step in Amazon's onward march to attain global domination via the device by integrating it within all aspects of consumers' lives, with the assistant first emerging on select Toyota and Lexus models this prior to a wider fleet roll out in 2019. The voice assistant will also enable a hands-free experience for playing music, podcasts, audiobooks, and managing smart home devices such as lights, thermostats, and home appliances.

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