Earlier this month we covered the new Apple CarPlay technology, which will gradually allow more and more car owners to enjoy using their iOS devices in their cars with as much convenience as possible. Now, we’re talking Android Auto, which is sure to please Android smartphone users.
Google officially announced Android Auto back in June of 2014, and Android smartphone users have been anticipating its official launch ever since. Now, we finally have some concrete answers on what we can expect from Android Auto—and when we can expect it—as 2016 looks like it is actually going to be the year of Android Auto.
What can Android Auto do?
Like Apple CarPlay, Android Auto was designed to allow drivers to safely interact with their smartphones while driving. It is meant to combine the luxuries and conveniences of a car entertainment system with the “intelligence” of your smartphone, essentially turning existing vehicles into smart cars. Your smartphone can be connected to a head unit with a display, which will then give you access to key apps like Google Maps, Google Play Music, weather, Messages, and other apps—all on a safe interface that can be used hands-free with controls in the steering wheel or through voice commands.
How do I get Android Auto?
As it turns out, you won’t need to buy a new car in order to make use of Android Auto, which is what seems to be the case for Apple CarPlay. Instead, all you need is an Android 5.0-equipped smartphone and a compatible Pioneer head unit for your in-car entertainment system. And while your car might not be equipped with that technology at the moment, investing in a new stereo for your car is much cheaper than buying a new car entirely in order to take advantage of the new technology. In order to see which Pioneer head units are compatible with Android Auto, you can check Pioneer’s Android Auto website.
Google also has plans to partner with other stereo systems companies in the near future as well, so if you’re hesitant about getting a Pioneer head unit for your car, know that if you wait around long enough, other options are likely to arise.
Currently, it looks like only Volkswagen and Hyundai cars can come standard with Android Auto, but many other car manufacturers have announced bringing Android Auto capability in 2016, including Audi, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, Honda, Kia, and Volvo.