As the world is still recovering from the wave of announcements at the Google I/O, I went ahead and took a closer look at Android Auto. These two words summarize my points of interest, Android and Auto. I knew Android would come to cars someday, it was inevitable but I never expected it to be announced at this year’s Google I/O.
While most were expecting the announcement of the rumored Android Silver and the termination of the Nexus program, very few thought Android Auto would make it to the stage.
The announcement of received mixed response from the people present at the event. Probably because some were happy about Android coming to cars while some were unhappy about the fact that, Android is coming to cars. That’s because Google now will have even more information about you than it did before. Making cars smarter was always an agenda on the back of most manufacturers minds. With an exception like Tesla motors, most other manufacturers have more often than not failed at providing a fantastic UI like we’re used to using on today’s smartphones. Google had tried to get Android in cars way back in 2010 with the introduction of the Car Home app. This app would basically display only the required content needs while driving. Launching it would display an array of huge icons that are easy to hit while driving. Users could select what app they wanted to be display on the Car home screen. Android Auto looks like the extension of that very idea.
Most Android phones now come with powerful internals and are capable to run Android Auto. Google hasn’t given out the requirements for Android Auto which was demonstrated on an LG Nexus 5 at the Google I/O.
So what is Android Auto all about you’d ask. Android Auto is the combination of a receiver installed in the car by a manufacturer which needs a smartphone capable of running Android Auto. It’s well thought-out; meaning it’s not just going to mirror your typical Android smartphone UI onto the car’s screen. Connecting with phone to the car will enable Android Auto and all the contents of the phone will be available on the car screen, and will be presented in a customized interface that’s easier to use while driving. Steering mounted controls will also work so that you don’t need to get your hand off the wheel. And for a true hands-free experience, the “Ok Google” command will work just the way it does on your smartphone.
Voice commands are a brilliant way to get things done, think about it. You don’t need to get your hands off the wheel nor your eyes off the road. Simply saying “Ok Google, Navigate Home” will launch maps on Android Auto and it’ll give you turn by turn navigation to your home (provided you’ve stored your home address). It also plays all the songs from your phone. Generally people use dedicated navigation systems for their car and while some manufacturers do provide navigation inbuilt. What Android Auto does is it takes it to the next level by integrating your Android smartphone and voice commands.
As a package Android Auto does a lot more than existing car infotainment systems. I am hoping more participation from the automobile industry to adopt the idea and from car audio manufacturers to get Android Auto to older cars. When will Android Auto make it India? All we can do is wait and watch.