I give you a firsthand look at the new Android Auto and all the trimmings that are part of this savvy new tool in the navigation market.
I am someone who loves to drive, love my car and of course being a big tech geek, I love Android. This is why when Google launched Android Auto, I was very excited and was quite impatient get my hands on it as soon as possible. And now that I have used it for several weeks and all the test vehicles are safely back to their owners, I am happy to say that I actually miss it.
For years now, Google maps have been the king of navigation tools even when it never had a central role in cars. With Android Auto, all the Google Smartphone users can get rid of those clumsy GPS units from the windshield (what a pain they are) and (more happy news) bypass car maker’s half-baked navigation upgrades.
Android auto is a dream come true for every tech savvy vehicle owner because it is not just about navigation. It is a whole package people with apps to make calls, play music and sending messages as part of the deal. So suit up because I am going to take you on an exciting digital journey of Android auto and what it is all about.
Cars that support Android Auto
Take a breath of relief as a whopping number of 28 automakers have signed the dotted line (this is just the beginning) and splurged for rust proofing so that they can support Google’s Oper Automotive Alliance.
The founding members of this group are Audi, Honda, Hyundai and General Motors while Chevrolet, Chrysler, Jeep, Volkswagen and Volvo came into the pack by the Google IO 2014 unveil.
Aftermarket solutions- Android Auto
For those of you, who are planning to buy a new car in near future, Android Auto is definitely a perk and your excitement is legit. However, for those of you who are not in the market for a new set of wheels; do not sport these droopy faces because Android auto has good news for you too.
LG, Panasonic, Alpine and JVC Kenwood will play heroes and save the day on your dated ride (Android auto thinks of everything). Including the above mentioned giants, a total of 11 manufacturers are coming in with Android Auto after market head units.
Phone Compatibility with Android Auto
For you to access Android auto, you need to upgrade your Smartphone to the Android 5.0 Lollipop. Well you cannot deny that this is way easier and far more affordable then upgrading to a new car, right? Unless of course you have a stubborn carrier- then you are in a lot of trouble.
The Google Nexus 6 phone is available with the Lollipop update as well as Android auto compatibility out of the gate. With an Android 5.0 update, all you need to do is plug in a micro USB-to-USB cable into the car’s USB port and your phone and the interface which looks great with its car-stylized interface will be projected onto the in-dash screen almost instantly.
The slick and informative interface of the Android Auto is one of its biggest strength and it is definitely inspired by the existing Android Lollipop and Google Now software.
The card –based menu is similar to that of the Google’s unified design language and is displayed on the home screen with all the predictions you would expect. In fact, Android Auto suggests directs as to where you might want to go based on your daily routine or recent searches.
The menu is very clear and looks a lot like the new Android Lollipop lockscreen with embedded notifications like the weather, missed calls, text alerts and in-progress music.
Android Auto – Apps that are ready
When I was testing the Android auto official apps by Google, I also stumbled upon a number of third party programs by developers that were meant for car users.
Google music line. Google Dialer for initiating calls and Google maps are apps that you will see displayed on the bottom dock of the nav system. Google hangouts is not displayed on the front end as it is integrated behind the scenes to handle messaging.
Android Auto dock also has a spot for the third party apps like the Hyundai – Blue link connected car feature.
How do you control Android Auto?
Keep that phone away because this in-car operating system gives you alternative methods to control your Smartphone.
The Hyundai Sonata (2015 model) that I tested had steering wheels control to prompt the functionality of the voice command. This is way more convenient than reaching for the microphone icon on the touch screen.
These are by far the easiest way to get around the menu-system without using your hands. You just tap the right corner with the microphone icon to make calls, listen to music, and reply to texts and to get directions.
Touch Screen Display
When your car is not in motion – cycling through the Android Auto menu using the touch screen is the best option.
Conclusion –All in all, I loved the new Android Auto app and I think that it is definitely a must have for all you tech savvy car lovers. You will love it and thank me later.