Smart Speakers Set To Become Radio’s (Next) Big Disrupter

Amazon and Google see your car as the next step in their quest for world domination in streaming entertainment and information across the universe.

Smart Speakers Set To Become Radio’s (Next) Big Disrupter

By David Farrell

Big tech has been slowly but resolutely impinging on radio listenership with smart speakers that can call up instant newscasts, weather reports, driving conditions, stream music and provide suggestions for local hotspots and events across North America.

Now Amazon’s Alexa is making a big jump into car dashboards.

It could be a significant upset for broadcasters who have successfully managed to share space with in-dash players, streaming services and even video consoles.

The dominant online retailer is moving into the in-car entertainment space after releasing a new developer kit to help manufacturers install Alexa within car dashboards.


No specific numbers are available for the number of Alexa owners in Canada, but recent research by suggests 20-percent of the US population now have “access” to a smart speaker. At present, Alexa is the dominant smart speaker in North America, but Google’s Home assistant is fast catching up, with Apple and a small but growing number of other brands starting to join the fray. Google Assistant made its first significant play in the car as an Android app.



The move by Amazon means that, if adopted by vehicle makers, drivers of Alexa-enabled cars will be able to use voice to listen to music in-car without the need for extra hardware.

Other voice-controlled functions enabled by the Alexa Auto SDK include making calls, navigation and searching for local restaurants, landmarks and even local radio stations.

Amazon press release

The Alexa Auto SDK includes core Alexa functionality, such as speech recognition and synthesis, and other capabilities such as streaming media, controlling smart home devices, notifications, weather reports, and tens of thousands of custom skills. Additionally, the SDK provides the hooks required to connect to a wake word engine, local media player, local phone, and local navigation system.


Enable customers to specify a contact name or phone number and Alexa will instruct the native calling service in the vehicle to place the call.


Media streaming

Enable customers to stream audio from popular media services, such as Amazon Music, Audible, and iHeartRadio, and display album art and other info to the head unit.


Enable customers to set the destination of the native turn-by-turn navigation system by specifying an address or point-of-interest and cancel navigation when the user does not need it anymore.

Local search

Enable customers to search for restaurants, movie theatres, grocery stores, hotels, and other business, and navigate to the location.

Supplementary reading:

The next stop on Amazon’s journey toward world domination is your car – Simone Stolzoff, Quartz

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Photo by Caleb George on Unsplash
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