Infotainment, or IVI systems have become extremely popular in new vehicles. Some of them can mirror smartphone technologies and allows drivers to have greater interaction with their system than a typical radio or MP3 player can provide. Most new vehicles come equipped with their own IVI system and proprietary firmware, but if you’re looking to use something a bit more familiar and in some cases a bit more robust, then it would only be fair to recommend one of the mainstream brands. While Apple offers CarPlay, Android Auto is available for those who prefer the open source or Linux based route.
What is Android Auto?
To put it as simply as possible, Android Auto is a smartphone projection system that can be installed in most cars. Because it is a projection system, it is not self-contained or standalone, meaning you will need to tether an Android Smartphone using a USB cable or wireless connectivity. Is your phone ready for Android auto? You’ll need to be Running Android 5.0 Lollipop to participate, and naturally the compatible infotainment system. In the face of many other infotainment systems, Android Auto has been gaining a considerable amount of traction, and it has even enjoyed some expansion in recent years.
Unsurprisingly, Android Auto has been seen expanding to a total of 18 new countries on nearly all of the continents across the planet, making it a pretty large expansion for a Linux based system. The newest countries include:
- Costa Rica
- Dominican Republic
- Puerto Rico
The addition of Puerto Rico to this list is only the icing on the cake, and great news for the inhabitants, especially those who want a smarter driving experience. Put quite simply, the system is now available in most of the world, which bodes well for the operating system as far as further expansion might be concerned. New vehicle manufacturers will join the fold and Android Auto will enjoy a much larger following in the days to come.
Ready to Install?
If you’re ready to jump into the pool of drivers using Android Auto you’re going to need to make sure that you have the following at your disposal:
- Android Auto Capable Vehicle
- Smartphone with Android 5.0 Lollipop
- Data Connection
Are you unsure as to whether or not you have a suitable car for Android Auto? Google can help you out with that! To help quell some of the confusion, they’ve kindly provided a list of the supported vehicles on their support page (http://www.android.com/auto/#hit-the-road), helping to ensure you have the right vehicle for the job.
More on Android Auto
You now know what you need and how to take advantage of the system, but what does it have to offer you? Is it better than the other infotainment systems on the market? Let’s take a quick look at the features you can expect from Android auto.
We’re going to come back to the fact that Android auto is not an independent system, but rather one that projects the capability and functionality of your existing Android smartphone to your car’s dashboard unit. This tends to make the system a bit less expensive, as opposed to one that is entirely self-contained when you already have half the system in your possession. Besides that, however, the car does need to support Android Auto in order for this to work – refer to the list we linked above.
As a bit of a twist, Google has announced recently that it will be bringing full Android Auto functionality to your phone, meaning you can simply place a dashboard mount in your vehicle and use the system without a compatible car much like you would a dashcam. While this system isn’t live yet, it is expected to hit the market sometime soon, putting Android Auto far ahead of the competition.
Features and Functionality
If you’re looking for features, Google Auto has them:
- Google Maps
- Music Control
- Voice Control
- Third Party App Support
- iHeart Radio
- TuneIN Radio
- KiK Messenger
- Google Hangouts
- Stitcher Radio
As you can see, it definitely boasts greater third party application support than its counterpart, Apple CarPlay, and what we’ve listed here is simply the tip of the iceberg. This was to be expected, however, as Android and Google have always been more liberal with the third-party application approval process. As with the compatible car list, Google has provided a full list of compatible applications for those who really want to expand their in-car experience(https://play.google.com/store/apps/collection/promotion_3001303_android_auto_all). To put it quite simply, this system can do nearly anything.
Google Auto did not launch with voice control, but ‘Okay, Google’ was recently added, and with this innovation you can control every part of the infotainment system with just your voice. Like the other options on the market, you’ll never need to take your eyes off the road, making for a much safer experience than would be available with just your smartphone navigation system.
Google has once again brought itself to the forefront of technology by introducing an app and system that nearly exceed that of its counterparts by offering the one thing they cannot: freedom. The freedom to download a wide range of applications combined with a hands-free in-vehicle experience makes this one of the preferred IVI systems. If you want to get on this, check out the list of compatible cars above, or simply wait for the update to drop. Either way, it’s going to be an exciting ride.
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