Invoking Alexa

This section covers how customers can invoke Alexa and how she visually responds on your device (i.e. IVI, mobile app, or aftermarket device). There are three standard ways to invoke Alexa in the vehicle (in order of preferred implementation):

  1. Wake word
  2. Physical button e.g. push-to-talk (PTT) button on the steering wheel
  3. Soft tap-to-talk button on the screen

(Required) Support hands-free listening (wake word) to invoke Alexa.

The wake word provides hands-free, voice-forward experiences with Alexa. Minimizing the need for drivers to view or touch the screen helps to reduce the visual (eyes off of the road) and manual (hands off the wheel) distractions in the car. Customers can disable the wake word under the Menu and settings. Customers must be sign in before wake word starts listening and customers can use Alexa.

(Required) Provide customers a way to disable Alexa hands-free listening under the Alexa menu.

See Menu and settings for more info and examples.

(Required) If the vehicle offers a PTT button, customers must be able to invoke Alexa via PTT.

PTT button

(Required) Display the Alexa voice chrome when the customer invokes Alexa.

Voice chrome is a visual indicator of Alexa’s attention system, such as listening, thinking, or speaking. These indicators must be displayed on the center stack (or your equivalent display) when interacting with Alexa in the vehicle. Depending on the design of your display, you may want to use either a linear or PTT voice chrome graphic. Do not use both. Find attention state and design specifications in Visual Language.

Soft tap-to-talk voice chrome
Linear voice chrome

(Required) Allow customers to interrupt Alexa when she's speaking.

Customers can interrupt Alexa with all available invocation methods and she will stop speaking.

(Required) If PTT is not available, TTT (Tap-to-Talk) via an on-screen button can be used to invoke Alexa.

TTT (Tap-to-Talk) button
Linear voice chrome button

This should be a tertiary way to access Alexa, never the primary. Touching the screen should never be the primary way to interact with Alexa.

Alexa earcons

Alexa earcons are sound cues that play at the beginning and end of speech input. They help inform the customer when Alexa is listening. Amazon provides an Alexa Sound Library. Sounds that must be stored on your vehicle's head unit can be downloaded from the Alexa Automotive Design toolkit. All other sounds are part of the Alexa response.

(Required) Play the Alexa earcons at the beginning and end of speech input.

This allows the customer to know when Alexa is listening even without looking at the screen. To ensure a good customer experience, the earcons and voice chrome need to stay in sync. Earcons should begin to play within 100ms of when voice chrome displays the corresponding beginning or end of listening state. Customers can turn off earcons in Alexa settings. See Menu and settings for more info and examples.


(Required) Enable hands-free listening only after the customer has completed Alexa setup.

See Setup for info about sign in and examples.

(Required) Disable Alexa in restricted modes such as valet or for guest drivers.

Customers expect Alexa to protect their privacy. When the native system in the car knows it's not you currently driving the car (e.g. valet mode), Alexa should become disabled, so the person driving is not able to access personal information.

Driver pulls up to a hotel and quickly turns on “valet mode”. The valet gets into the vehicle and is unable to use Alexa because “valet mode” is enabled. This ensures the valet cannot access the customer's private information via Alexa.