Google announced today that it will dramatically broaden the availability of its Android Auto experience by bringing it to Android-based smartphones.
This makes tons of sense.
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As Google notes, there are now over 200 new car models from over 50 brands that provide Android Auto support. But there are millions of cars on the road that are not Android compatible, and many of them don’t have screens of their own. So the Android Auto app will let those users enjoy Google’s connected experience for drivers right from their existing smartphone display.
To be clear, Google already makes an Android Auto app for Android: It’s required to use the Android Auto experience built into cars. But a coming new version of the app will work in standalone mode and not require an Android Auto-compatible car.
“This update allows anyone with an Android phone (running 5.0 or later) to use a driver friendly interface to access the key stuff you need on the road ― directions, music, communications ― without the distraction of things that aren’t essential while driving,” Android Auto product manager Gerhard Schobbe says. “Whether your phone is connected to a compatible car display, or placed in a car mount on the dashboard, Android Auto brings your favorite apps and services into one place, making them accessible in safer and seamless ways.”
Android Auto, like Google’s Car Play, makes the smartphone apps and services one might need in a car available in an easy-to-use, simplified UI. This includes music apps like Spotify, Pandora, and Google Play Music, as well as voice-based phone calling and messaging.
Like similar app-based solutions, the Android Auto app will activate when it detects the Bluetooth connection in your car, so it’s automatic.
“We’re also enhancing the support for hands-free voice commands in the coming weeks,” Schobble says. “You will soon be able to easily access existing features like maps, music and messaging by just saying “Ok Google” so you can stay focused on the road.”
Android Auto 2.0 will be rolling out “in the coming days,” Google says. Best of all, it will be made available in the over 30 countries where Android Auto is currently available.
<blockquote><em><a href="#24955">In reply to </a><a href="../../../users/Mestiphal">Mestiphal</a><a href="#24955">:</a></em></blockquote>
<p>Waze (owned by Google) is just a Navigation/Map app. I have started using it a few times, just so I can get a heads up to where police cars are located so I can remind self to be within the speed limit.</p>
<p>I think the difference between Waze and Google Maps/Android Auto, is that the latter is integral part of the entire Google/Android ecosystem. Therefore Google Maps knows you. Waze, I don’t believe, knows you because it’s just a separate app.</p>
<p>I don’t understand the enhanced hands free support, that Paul quoted Schobble saying. That’s because everything that was mentioned, I already have been doing, when driving. I remember teasing Windows Phone users about how with Cortana you have to push a button to activate her everytime you issue a command. I know Cortana can go hands free, but Google did it first and I have been using it like that (for driving) ever since. It’s wholly convenient.</p>