Android Auto is a software integrated in some cars used to control the cars’ infotainment system like multimedia and maps for directions.
Until this announcement, only a tiny percentage of cars around the world had Android Auto for the simple reason that adoption of Android Auto by car makers did not go as fast Google would have hoped. And besides, to use and enjoy Android Auto, the controls on the dashboard need to be very large.
But with the launch of this new app, Android Auto just got very very big as more users would be able to use the app directly from their phones to control the cars infotainment system.
Usage of the new app is not restricted to few cars like before. Anybody can use it as long as the car can be linked to a smartphone via Bluetooth.
The new updated Android Auto has a user interface that is very easy to use without too much clutter to cause distractions or confusions for those who are not used to these sorts of apps.
Like any good modern app used to remotely control a car’s infotainment system while driving, it comes with a voice function so that text messages can be read to you while driving. And if properly configured, the driver could reply to text message through voice commands too.
For those who might be concerned that the new app would not have enough in-built apps seeing that it is a somewhat simplified version of the original, Google is telling them not to worry.
To show how minimalist the app is, only four icons appear at the bottom of the screen when it is switched on. These are icons for representing the home button, Google Maps, the music icon and the the icon for making and receiving phone calls.
At the top of the interface, just two icons rule the roost : the menu button and a microphone icon.
Once launched, the new Android Auto would immediately display a series of cards relating to your recent activities or notifications that need to be attended to immediately. The cards could be something like what the weather is like in your present location; a notification showing a missed call; controls for your favourite music app; or even direction to a place you searched for earlier on Maps.
The new Android Auto is available in 30 countries. As for compatible phones, you need to have an Android Lollipop (5.0) or later to enjoy the app. This should be one good reason for car owners in those 30 countries to upgrade their devices to at least a Lollipop device.
There is a downside to the app. The fact that the app is always active means a direct hit on your device’s battery. So don’t be surprised if you you find yourself having to charge your device multiple times a day if you want to stay connected.
The next step for Android Auto is to make it totally hands-free. Fact is, driving and making use of a phone comes with a lot of risks in the form of accidents.
Hopefully, Google would include voice-activated features and voice control features for the app. After all, that is the aim of apps like this: to give a driver total freedom to drive a car while at the same time controlling the infotainment software in the car.
And more importantly for users in non-supported countries, Google should deploy the app to these countries (Nigeria included) as soon as possible.
image credit: androidcentral.com; theverge.com; droid-life.com