It’s not a voicebot like Alexa, but it does the job.
A voice memo feature in the 2017 Volvo V90 Cross Country can record everything you say, then send the recorded clip to any email address. I tested the feature on the V90, a large and wide wagon with a powerful turbocharged and supercharged 316-horsepower engine.
As you drive, you can pull up one of several apps in the dashboard, including Spotify and one for checking the weather. You can also connect your phone over USB and use Android Auto or Apple CarPlay to make phone calls, use the navigation system on your phone, see and send text messages, and listen to music. Next year, Google plans to integrate Android directly into the dashboard interface of a Volvo, no phone required. Yet the app that really caught my eye in the V90 is called “Record and Send.”
As you drive, you can press a large microphone button and then dictate a memo — I tried several shorter messages like “remember to pick up milk after work,” and a few longer notations, including one that was essentially the beginning of this article. The V90 has two different speakerphones, one for the driver and one for the passenger, located above your head. I had a passenger dictate a message, as well, and all of the voice memos recorded perfectly. (It helps that the V90 interior is so quiet.)
When you’re done recording, you can then send the message to one of three different emails. I added a work email, one I use for volunteering, and another personal email. To switch between them, you click the Recipient button and select the one you want.
It might not seem all that high-tech, but I found myself using it all week — setting reminders by voice, dictating the intro to other articles, and recording a few article ideas. Maybe we’ve crossed over (no pun intended) to a world where even a V90 Cross Country works as a digital attendant. We speak to bots at home, we might as well speak to a digital attendant in the car.
Of course, I wanted a few more features. The V90 could also transcribe the memos and then send them by email. The car itself doesn’t respond to voice commands unless you use Siri or the Assistant on Android Auto. That said, having any extra features might get in the way of the basic concept here — to record memos and send them to yourself or to colleagues.
If the V90 is your business vehicle, I could this feature being used routinely. It’s a handy way to remind yourself about meetings or work-related issues.
The V90 has a base price of $55,300, which puts it in the same ballpark as several Audi sedans, yet with plenty of extra space. The wagon design is incredibly popular right now in Europe, so I’m not surprised to see it make a triumphant return in the U.S.