Garmin has worked with Amazon to release the first Alexa device made for your car. The Garmin Speak is a small round device that attaches to your car windshield to provide you hands-free access to Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant on the go. While it looks just like a tiny Echo Dot, thanks to its LED light ring, it also has an OLED screen on the front that works with Alexa and Garmin’s software to provide both spoken and visual turn-by-turn navigation directions.
The Garmin Speak is 1.5 inches wide with a tiny 114 x 64 pixel OLED screen on the front that’s surrounded by a multi-color LED light ring. It attaches to a car windshield magnetically, so you can easily hide it away if necessary, leaving just a small coin-sized black disc in its place when not in use. It’s powered through a micro USB cable that plugs into a 12V accessory socket.
The Echo-like device has a small built-in speaker, but you’re intended to connect it to your car stereo, either via Bluetooth or a wired 3.5mm auxiliary port on the power socket. It has a pair of beamforming microphones that are always listening for the Alexa wake word. On the side closest to the driver is a microphone mute button and an action button to manually trigger Alexa.
The Garmin Speak needs to be connected wirelessly to your phone, via an app available for both Android and iOS devices, in order to work because it uses your phone’s data connection for all of its functionality. You configure the device’s settings through the app and can input navigation destinations manually through the app if you don’t want to use your voice.
Of course, all of Alexa’s usual capabilities, including smart home control and Alexa skills, are available through the Garmin Speak. If that’s all you want from this device, you might be better off just putting an Echo Dot in your car and connecting it to your phone’s hotspot WiFi connection, like many people have already done. Where the Garmin Speak takes things a step further is its navigation capabilities.
Garmin has created a new Alexa skill that can exclusively be used by the Garmin Speak. The Garmin skill, unfortunately, requires you to say “Alexa, ask Garmin…” before giving any navigation command, but it thankfully has a very robust set of features.
The Garmin skill lets you search for nearby locations, by saying something like “Alexa, ask Garmin to find some BBQ,” and start navigation. You can also specify a city, street, or intersection, by saying something like “Alexa, ask Garmin to find a Chinese restaurant near 12th street and Vine Street,” if you don’t want to search near your current location. You can also save locations in the Garmin app and ask for them by name by saying something like “Alexa, ask Garmin to go home.” As you’d expect, you can also say a specific address or intersection.
With a destination set and navigation started, Alexa will speak out turn-by-turn directions, either through your car stereo or the built-in speaker on the Garmin Speak. In addition to spoken directions, your next turn will be displayed on the Garmin Speak’s screen. It will also give you lane guidance on the screen and a distance countdown.
The Garmin skill allows you to ask for route information at any time by asking “how much farther?” or “what time will I arrive?” You can also ask for information about your location by saying “where am I?” or “what’s the speed limit?” or “how’s traffic?” Lastly, the Garmin Speak will also allow you to answer or dismiss phone calls using your voice.
The Garmin Speak is $149.99 and is available to purchase today.