Kia has unveiled a cool new feature at CES in Las Vegas that will allow you to talk to your car. It’s UVO Agent for the Google Assistant and it allows you to use Google Assistant which is built into hardware like Google Home, Google Home Mini, and many Android smartphones to give commands to your Kia via the UVO infotainment system. Kia describes it as an “easy-to-use voice assistant that enhances the owner experience.”
The tricks you can make your car do with Google Assistant include remote engine start, climate control, horn and lights, and remote door locks. You can even use it to control the charge of your Niro PHEV or Soul EV. Upon release, this feature is only available for the Niro, Soul EV, Optima Plug-In, and K900. Those are probably some of Kia’s least common cars, but a Kia representative told us “we will be rolling out this feature into all [Kia] cars over the next two years,” in an email to The Drive.
This feature continues the fight between Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa for smart assistant dominance. Amazon has struck deals with Toyota, Ford, and BMW to integrate Alexa into cars. Mercedes-Benz is using both Google Assistant and Alexa and interestingly, luxury brand Genesis, which is part of the Kia/Hyundai family, has Alexa abilities. We can’t help but wonder if Google Assistant will make its way to Hyundai and Genesis if it goes well for Kia.
It’s easy to think of using a smart assistant with a car as being a cheap trick, but as our lives get more and more connected to “the internet of things,” it sounds like it will soon be a common feature of new cars. Is this the future or a fad we’ll all be laughing about in 20 years?