Nissan is the latest automaker to use Amazon Alexa services for performing functions, which previously required keys. The Alexa feature will support Nissan cars purchased up to two years ago. The Japanese car maker said that all the vehicles from 2016, 2017 and 2018 with Nissan Connect Service would be compatible with Alexa.

Nissan Alexa services
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About eleven models would get the Amazon Alexa services. Some of the models are Nissan Murano, Nissan Pathfinder, Nissan Sentra, Nissan Titan, Nissan Maxima and Nissan Armada among others. Nissan will also add Alexa in its 2018 Nissan Leaf Electric vehicle, and some of the features would be tailor-made. In the Leaf, Alexa would also perform functions such as tracking the battery and charging status, rendering climate control data and so on, notes Digital Trends.

Dan Teeter, director of Vehicle Connected Services, Nissan North America, said, “Intelligent integration means helping our customers even when they are not behind the wheel.” According to Torque Report, Teeter said that the company is bringing unexpected innovations to the customers, and is excited to present the technology for both existing and new Nissan owners.

Users can download Alexa for free, but they need the subscription of NissanConnect, which should be linked to the portal account of  the Nissan owner. Functions such as starting the car, remote locking, honking and toggling the lights can be performed by Alexa. Some of the functions will need a four digits PIN.

Nissan stated that owners need to use commands like, “Alexa, ask NissanConnect Services to start my Murano” or “Alexa, ask NissanConnect Services to lock the doors of my GT-R.” Although the commands are a bit lengthy, it still is better than going up to the car and doing it yourself.

Nissan might be an early adopter of Alexa, but rival BMW is planning to make it bigger. Next year, BMW’s integration of Alexa will allow customers to listen to the news and ask for driving directions, which would then be reflected on the dashboard of the BMW vehicle, notes Engadget. Apart from BMW and Nissan, Amazon also collaborated with Ford for offering the Alexa services.

For Amazon, recent deals with the automakers is a big plus, but it still has to go a long way to compete with Apple’s Carplay and Google’s Android Auto. Tech firms are making a big push into the automotive space as the car data industry is expected to be worth $750 million by 2030, notes BI.

Amazon Alexa is wonderful, but it still cannot cancel other sounds surrounding the human voice. The incidents where the Alexa fails to catch a certain command that it easily understood a day before are not rare, according to Jalopnik. In such a case, not many would be comfortable in giving the control of their car to Alexa.

However, going forward Alexa may be able to overcome this issue. A British company XMOS is launching a qualified Amazon Alexa Voice Service (AVS) development kit. As the XMOS development kit is equipped with a far-field linear microphone array to support Alexa, the voice assistant can be discretely used.

Update: the earlier version of the article included incorrect information on the XMOS development kit, which has now been corrected.