Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant has always been able to give you traffic information for your daily commute by entering that one address in the Alexa app. Now it’s capable of doing the same for local businesses and landmarks. You can, for example, ask “Alexa, how’s traffic to the airport” and it will tell you how long it will take to drive from your home to the nearest airport.
When you ask for traffic info for a location, Alexa will tell you how long it will take to drive to that location. Alexa also tells you the exact address of the location, so you can be sure it has found the correct destination. It also mentions which major roads and/or highways will get you there the quickest.
Amazon officially says that Alexa can now give traffic info to “major landmarks.” While that seems to imply that traffic info is still very limited, during my testing, the updated capability is a lot more robust than they’re giving it credit.
You still can’t ask for traffic to a specific address or to someone in your contact list, but Alexa is able to find many nearby businesses that I’ve tried by name. Most locations you can search for through a mapping service will be found by Alexa. In the event Alexa pulls up the wrong business or location, you can clarify by adding the city where business or landmark is located.
New devices like the Garmin Speak and the Muse taking Alexa out of the home and into cars. Features like this newly expanded traffic capability will become important as more companies experiment with Alexa in the car. While getting a quick overview of traffic conditions from Alexa isn’t going to replace the detailed info found in turn-by-turn navigation systems, it might be enough in some cases to not need to check your phone on the road.