Google this week announced improvements to Android Audio and an expanding list of Google-powered in-car capabilities.
“Google’s vision of helpfulness on the road is to provide a safe and seamless connected experience,” Google product director Mickey Kataria writes in the announcement post. “Today, we’re introducing several updates for cars compatible with Android Auto and cars with Google built-in.”
Key announcements include:
Android Auto improvements. Now available in almost 150 million automobiles worldwide, Android Auto now supports Fast Pair, wireless connectivity, and a growing selection of compatible accessories like the Motorola MA1 wireless adapter, which brings wireless connectivity to cars without that support built-in. The Lyft and Kakao Mobility apps are coming to Android Auto “this summer,” as are points of interest apps like MochiMochi, Fuelio, and Prezzi Benzina.
Use Android as your car key. You can now use select Samsung Galaxy and Google Pixel handsets to lock, unlock, and start a small range of supported BMW automobiles. But starting later this year, phones with Ultra-Wideband (UWB) chipsets will let you unlock a compatible car even more easily. And a key sharing feature will let customers securely and remotely share their digital car keys with trusted friends and family. Google plans to bring these features to more Android phones and vehicles later this year.
Google Play. Carmakers like General Motors, Polestar, and Volvo already offer a range of Google capabilities, and with Google Play support, compatible cars will soon be able to download “navigation apps like Sygic and Flitsmeister, charging apps like ChargePoint and PlugShare, parking apps like SpotHero and ParkWhiz and points of interest apps.” And Volvos are getting video entertainment apps, including YouTube, that will work when the vehicle is parked. (This will come to other cars over time.)
Car settings. Starting with Volvo, drivers will be able to view and configure more of their vehicle settings. “From activating features like lane-keeping assist to checking when your next service is due, your voice can replace looking around for the right button or scrolling through settings,” Google says.
Remote actions. This new feature will let you ask Google to perform car-related actions before you leave. “Ask Google to warm up or cool down your car, lock and unlock it and check on the status of things like your battery charge, all from the comfort of your own home with the help of any Google Assistant-enabled device,” Google notes. This feature is coming first to select Volvo cars, “with more to follow.”