Mercedes-Benz announced today that all of its 2016 and 2017 vehicles in the US can now connect with both Amazon and Google’s digital voice assistants.
Starting today, Mercedes owners can instruct their Google Home or Amazon Echo to remotely start or lock their vehicles, as well as send addresses to their in-car navigation system. But a promo video by Mercedes shows a much more frightening use-case: using these digital voice assistants to compensate for incredibly stupid behavior, like leaving the house with both the iron and stovetops on at full blast.
“We want to offer our customers a broad range of services 24/7, not just when they are in our cars,” says Nils Schanz, head of Mercedes-Benz North America’s Internet of Things and Wearable Integration (how’s that for a title). “Mercedes-Benz’s goal is creating an intelligent ecosystem around cars and developing cutting-edge technology to make everyday life more convenient for our customers.”
Using your Echo and Google Home in conjunction with your Mercedes will involve more verbal gymnastics than if you were just using the smart home devices on their own. Let’s let Mercedes explain:
For instance, customers with Google devices can simply say, “Ok, Google, tell Mercedes me to start my car,” and it will remotely start the customer’s car. Another available feature includes remote lock. With Alexa devices, customers can say, “Alexa, ask Mercedes me to send an address to the car” for remote navigation input and point-of-interest requests.
There will be some app integration gymnastics as well.
Mercedes-Benz customers will need an active Mercedes me account and an active mbrace subscription. In order to link their accounts, customers will have to download the Google Home or Amazon Alexa app and connect it with Mercedes me.
It doesn’t appear that Mercedes-Benz owners will be able to use Alexa or Google Home from inside their vehicles, but rather will use Mercedes’ in-car system to control those devices.
Mercedes isn’t the first automaker to recognize the potential of third party digital voice assistants. At CES earlier this year, Ford unveiled its plan to roll out Alexa-equipped vehicles. Around the same time, Hyundai announced a new partnership with Google to add voice control through the Google Home.
But Mercedes has certainly been at the forefront of smart home integrations. Three years ago, the Daimler-owned car company said it would be adding Nest support to its vehicles, meaning that drivers will be able to tweak the temperature at home right through their dashboards.
Even so, most automakers are still trepidatious about fully embracing in-car app systems, like Apple’s CarPlay and Android Auto. Many hope to create their own app systems for drivers, so they can fully control the experience. But as you can see with The Verge’s ScreenDrive series, that often amounts to a frustrating driving experience.