Android Auto, though not particualry famous in Sri Lanka, has been steadily improving in terms of features and functionality. For those who do not know, Android Auto is Google’s method of bringing the power of your smartphone to your vehicle. Simply plug your Android smartphone to the vehicle via USB and Android Auto will project Android apps such as messages, maps and messaging on to the in car display.
Recently, Google announced a major update to Android Auto. According to the update, you can now use Android Auto without the need for a compatible vehicle and display. You only need to have a device that runs Android 5.0 or above.
The biggest problem with Android Auto or Apple’s CarPlay was that you either need to buy a new car or replace the entire dashboard with an aftermarket solution. These are not so friendly on your wallet either. But thanks to this update, all those requirements have been eliminated. The update to Android Auto also makes drivers become less distracted.
Once installed, the app can be launched from the device and users will be greeted by an interface that is similar to Android Auto, just smaller.
Elements of the display such as fonts are larger, although access to apps such as Gmail or Twitter are restricted (for the sake of safety). The app does however, display essential services such as phone calls, music controls, and Google Maps (if you, like me, tend to get lost a lot).
Apps designed for Android Auto possess a consistent design. They incorporate large, round buttons for easy touch points, and similar menu structures. This ensures that apps won’t be any more distracting than they need to be. Just a quick glance to check up on them is all you would need.
Further, Google also updated Maps Desktop, Android and iOS with numerous visual improvments which should help in your navigation.
One thing noted though was that features such as “OK Google” commands have not yet been implemented, which I feel is a great part of the experience lost. However, according to Google, support for voice interaction will be implemented within the coming weeks.
If your vehicle has an existing Bluetooth connection, you can set the app to automatically launch once your phone and car are connected.
The update is scheduled to roll out over the next few days in over 30 countries in total, where Android Auto is currently available.