LAS VEGAS — Between smart speakers, thermostats, TVs and more, Amazon's Alexa voice assistant is now pretty ubiquitous when it comes to in-home devices. However, Alexa's presence in autos is still in its infancy. The Muse looks to change that.
This new device brings Alexa into your car for just under $70. The Muse is a small circular device, about the size of a silver dollar, and contains a microphone and three buttons: One for activating Alexa (although you can also just say "Alexa"), and two more for skipping through audio tracks.
The Muse plugs into a USB port in your car, and connects to your phone via Bluetooth LE. (This also permits you to simultaneously connect your phone to your car's audio system via USB, too.) Then, whenever you press the button, or say "Alexa...", the Muse will activate Amazon's voice assistant.
I took a short ride in Las Vegas to see how it worked, and was fairly impressed. Alexa took a beat or two longer to respond than if I had been using it in my home, but Muse reps said that was due to the fact that it had to rely on a smartphone's cellular connection, rather than Wi-Fi, as you'd find in a house. Still, it was pretty quick, responding to my commands to play Bruce Springsteen or Depeche Mode. Better still, the car we were in — a newer Cadillac — also displayed the song title and artist on its entertainment console. Currently, you can use the Muse to stream audio from Pandora and TuneIn, but Spotify is also coming soon.
Keep in mind, though, that you'll be using your phone's data plan to stream tunes, or anything else you do with Alexa.
However, Muse's usefulness goes beyond playing your favorite songs. You can also use it to tell Alexa to play a game — helpful for keeping the kids entertained — or you can tell it to look up weather, get a news briefing, and even activate smart home devices. So, you can tell Alexa to turn on your home lights as you're pulling into your driveway.
The Muse is available for $69 online, and it seems to be a simple, clever device that lets you get even more out of Alexa while you're on the go. For those who are invested in Amazon's ecosystem, it represents an easy way to extend Alexa's functionality. We're planning to test out the Muse more extensively soon, so stay tuned for our full review.