Anker Roav Bolt Google Assistant Review: drive your house by voice from your car!
- Ease of installation
- All Google Assistant voice features in the car!
Seen at the CES a year ago, the Roav Bolt from Anker had interested me a lot, since this little cigarette lighter adapter allows you to add Google Assistant in your car, very simply, and at very little cost. From then on, everything that can be done with Google Assistant can be done from the car, including listening to music, calculating the route, or controlling his home, without having to touch the smartphone, whose use in the car is now heavily punished. Unfortunately still unavailable in France, I took advantage of my recent trip to the US to bring back one (there are other tips to get one ;-). I propose you to discover it today in more details.
I. Anker Roav Bolt Unboxing
Anker offers two quite similar devices: the Roav Viva, for use with the Amazon Alexa Wizard, and available in France for several months, and the Roav Bolt, compatible with Google Assistant. Compatibility is well indicated on the box:
The back of the packaging clearly shows what can be done with this small device, which can be used with an Android smartphone as well as an iPhone.
The box opens to reveal the product, and its installation is very simple:
Inside, we find the cigarette lighter adapter, accompanied by a 3.5mm jack audio cable, and a small user manual.
The Roav Bolt has two USB ports to charge your smartphone or any USB device in the car. Practical, your cigarette lighter socket is not totally occupied, and you won't have to choose between the voice wizard or the charging of your devices :p In addition, these two USB ports are compatible with fast charging (Anker PowerIQ, 24W, 5V/2.4A per port).
On the other side, an audio port will connect the adapter to an audio input of the car, if the car does not have Bluetooth for example.
On the top, a button will trigger listening to the wizard (although it is possible to trigger it via the magic word “Ok Google” without touching anything). Two microphones are also integrated, with ambient noise reduction for better listening. Finally, 4 leds will light up in different colors, to indicate the assistant's operating mode, just like a Google Mini for example.
In terms of dimensions, we stay on something very discreet, in the average of what is done for any USB cigarette lighter charger:
Let's move on without further ado to its installation.
II. Installation of Anker Roav Bolt
The installation of the Anker Roav Bolt is really very simple. To start, you will of course have to insert it into the car's cigarette lighter socket, and turn on the ignition to power it:
The Roav Bolt should light blue, indicating it's waiting to be paired. You must then go to the bluetooth management of the smartphone, and pair it by clicking on it:
The configuration starts automatically:
In the car, it is possible to ask the wizard to automatically read the notifications to you, which will avoid having to look at your smartphone when you hear a push notification arriving :p It is possible to explicitly select the applications whose notifications you want to read. For my part, I have only selected SMS, so as not to be spammed while driving.
The assistant then guides us into the audio link of the Roav Bolt. There are two possibilities: either via the audio jack cable, to connect the Roav Bolt to an audio input in the car or in the car radio:
Or bluetooth if the car is equipped with it. Here my Toyota Yaris integrates bluetooth. It is here the smartphone which will have to communicate in bluetooth with the car radio (in this case the smartphone is at the same time connected to the Roav Bolt AND to the car radio in bluetooth).
It is then necessary to activate the bluetooth source on the car radio, to be able to hear the few sounds broadcast on the car, in order to check that everything is working correctly.
Once this step has been completed, it is possible that an update of the Roav Bolt will be made. Just wait (without turning off the ignition!). The installation is then complete!
From that moment on, your smartphone will automatically connect to the Roav Bolt and the car radio when you leave the car. The use becomes completely transparent. If you ever need to change any settings, simply go to the Google Home application and select the Roav Bolt from the list of devices associated with your account:
In routine use, there will be nothing more to do. You can simply trigger the listener with a classic ‘Google Ok', then give your orders: call a contact, send a text message, launch a playlist on Spotify, add an ingredient to your shopping list while you're thinking about it, etc. Of course, if connected objects or a compatible home automation system is associated with your Google Assistant, they will also be voice-controlled from your car. My Jeedom home automation box compatible with Google Assistant allows me to open the portal by voice long before I get home, turn on the outside lights if it's dark, etc. It's extremely practical!
I had been waiting for the release of this aircraft for a very long time in France, so I didn't hesitate to buy two of them when I went to the US, to equip the lady's car and of course mine. And I don't regret, since the Roav Bolt works perfectly well in our cars, with of course a Google Assistant in French, if some of you were wondering ;-)
So inevitably, some people will wonder about the interest in the Google Assistant integrated into our smartphones, since it is quite possible to trigger it via the “Google Ok”, even when the phone is on standby. This solution certainly works quite well. Nevertheless, I find the Roav Bolt two big advantages:
- on the one hand, its two integrated microphones, with ambient noise reduction, are much more efficient than the one on my smartphone. Of course, if the ambient noise is very high (poor road quality, etc.) you'll have to raise your voice a little. But so far it's still very reasonable, whether on country roads or highways at 130km/h. I don't have to “shout” for Google to hear me, the two microphones pick up rather well.
- on the other hand, as far as I'm concerned I deactivated the wizard alarm clock on the smartphone via the “Ok Google”, because with a speaker connected in each room (Google Home, Google Mini, Hub, etc.), waking up the smartphone every “ok Google” was more of a problem for me than anything else.
The only criticism one could make is that it can only be paired with one smartphone. If you pair it with another smartphone, you'll have to redo the configuration, which is quick, but still restrictive. The ideal is to have one in each car, like I did, and leave it in its place. It becomes an integral part of the car, and its operation is then totally transparent.
Fee level, it's $49. A price that remains reasonable, but the real problem will be its availability, since it is currently unavailable in Europe, without really knowing the reason, since this product works perfectly well with us, and that its Alexa version is available for more than a year in France. To get it, you will have to either know someone who can send it to you from the US, or use my tip to get US products delivered in France (by ordering for example on BestBuy), or search on Ebay, some sellers shipping to France, the price being necessarily inflated by shipping costs.
The Roav Bolt brings voice control in the car, thanks to Google Assistant. It then becomes very easy to play your favorite music, send an SMS, or even drive your house by voice, all without ever touching the smartphone!
- Ease of installation
- All Google Assistant voice features in the car!
- Only one paired smartphone at a time
- Not available in Europe