Android Auto: The Future of Android-powered Cars


There’s a lot of buzz about Android Auto in the industry lately. Many of us don’t even have an idea of what it is or what it could become. Android auto is nothing but an amalgamation of your car’s dashboard OS and Android. Human being’s first mode of transportation was walking and swimming and we have progressed a lot from that. We are now on brink of a new way to move and transport material things from one place to another .And it all started when the giants of Silicon Valley wanted to modernize the way we use entertainment systems in our cars. The pivotal aim of the Android Auto is to replace the existing awful car infotainment system with something lucid and captivating.

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What is Android Auto?

Android Auto works on a projected interface. A projected interface is nothing but a remote display on which the android apps are view able while all the processing is done by an Android smart phone. It is like connecting your laptop to your HD TV. In this case the HDMI cable gets replaced by a USB cable which acts as the medium to transfer information. So let it be clear, Android Auto is neither an operating system nor open source. It is a proprietary smart phone projection standard developed by Google to allow mobile devices running Android Lollipop and above (5.xx +) to be operated in the car’s dashboard. Android Auto was announced on June 25, 2014 at Google Input Output, a yearly event in which Google announces its current and upcoming products. The mobile app was released in March 19, 2015. It is a part of Open Automotive Alliance which is an alliance of 28 and growing automotive manufacturers and technological companies that are aimed at using android in automobiles.

What Can It Do?

Android Auto’s interface is built from scratch with a car’s dashboard in mind. Moreover, Google worked with various government agencies to ensure that it follows good safety practices for computing while driving. Android Auto has several functions and some of those are:

  • GPS Navigation: Google Maps for auto is fully voice controlled and the directions are loud and clear.
android_auto_maps_navigation
  • Music Control: Android Auto supports several music and podcast apps, including Google Play Music, Spotify, iHeart Radio, TuneIn, Joyride, Stitcher, and Pocket Casts podcast players, etc.

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  • Telephony, SMS Composition and Playback: We can initiate voice command to call or text someone by pressing the microphone icon on the top right corner.

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  • Web Search: It has complete Google Now support with location-based reminders and the best part is that your reminders get synced across all your devices.

Pros

  • Android Auto supports a lot of external Android apps such as Skype, Spotify, iHeart, etc.
  • It is designed from scratch with Google’s material design philosophy which  is minimalist and elegant.
    Google’s accurate map navigation on 8 inch screen feels really good.
  • Voice commands help to concentrate on driving rather than looking at dashboard, which means improved safety.
  • Android Auto integrates with your car to provide accurate position, speed, etc. this in turn provides accurate real-time positioning.

Cons

  • Unavailability of Threaded View: There is no option to check previous messages which hand landed you to the current one. Also, the text-to-speech system for messages is not currently advanced enough and it reads URLs letter by letter.
  • Occasional Voice Command Bugs: Though the voice command gets detected, the system does not respond at times.
  • Restricted Touch Interactions: Yes you read it right. You can’t use the touch screen for more than 6 consecutive touches and in Japan its worse, 4 touches.
  • Physical Connection: Can’t this information hand shake happen using NFC or Bluetooth instead of USB cable? USB cable is quite archaic. The good point here is, Google didn’t go with a custom cable and that’s a relief.
  • Unless you connect your android powered phone,  you will be forced to use the stock infotainment , which is not quite appealing.

Supported Manufacturers

Android Auto is currently available in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States. The list of countries and car manufacturers keep growing each day:

  • Alpine
  • Bentley
  • Clarion
  • CloudCar
  • Delphi
  • FIAT Chrysler
  • Ford
  • Freescale
  • FUJITSU TEN
  • HARMAN
  • Infiniti
  • JVCKENWOOD
  • LG
  • Maserati
  • Mazda
  • Mitsubishi
  • Nissan
  • Panasonic
  • Parrot
  • Pioneer
  • Renault
  • Renesas
  • SEAT
  • Škoda
  • Subaru
  • Suzuki
  • Symphony Teleca
  • Volkswagen
  • Volvo

The first of Android auto powered cars is expected to get shipped soon.

Want to Get Your Hands Dirty?

It should be noted that Android Auto is still under development. What we are experiencing is just a glimpse of what is next to come.

Got an new idea that can revolutionize the way we use Android auto? Well, Google has provided ample resources to get started. Head over to this developer link to learn more. Google has announced Desktop Head Unit (DHK) which is Google’s name for it’s testing unit. It emulates the in-car experience for testing purpose and once you have installed it, you can test your android auto apps by connecting your phone.

That’s it for this article. I don’t think we are too far from the day that regular cars will have this technology implemented.

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