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What is Android Auto? Features, Functions, Compatible Cars

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Technology is changing the way we use our phones, get our work done at office, and control everything in our home as well. From smart phones, to smart homes to finally, smart cars, we’ve come a long way.

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Just like Apple, Google too, has now launched their smart car project, called Android Auto. Android Auto is to your car what Android OS is to your smartphone, a smart companion that’ll take care of everything and improve your overall driving experience.

From giving you directions for your ride to handling the entertainment system to attending your calls, Android Auto can do it all. Here’s everything you need to know about Google’s latest project in the smart car domain.

What is Android Auto?

Android Auto was launched with the mind set to make driving simpler and to encourage the drivers to drive safely. They wanted the motorists to keep their eyes on the road and minimize any distractions from the phone calls, texts, listening to the news, and more. Thus, Android Auto is a fully functional smart car system installed onto your dashboard.

What can Android Auto do?

Designed with an easy-to-use interface, large icons, and swiping menus, Android Auto allows you to control everything with just a swipe or with your voice. The pre-installed Google Maps feature helps you navigate and reach your required destination whilst determining the shortest route and analysing if there’d be traffic on your route.

Just like your smartphone, you can also save your addresses as “Home”, “Work”, etc. and control the device with your voice. Therefore, ask Google to “Take you home”, and it will make sure you reach there the quickest.

Android Auto also takes care of your entertainment by putting a library of millions of songs and podcasts at your disposal, for you to use. You can surf the web and ask Google all the questions you need the answers to and everything you want it to do. All you have to say is “OK Google, play some Linkin Park songs”, and your songs would be played. You can also attend your calls, and respond to your texts as well with the speech-to-text technology.

If your car is compatible with the Android Auto but doesn’t support voice recognition, you can access all of the applications with the touchscreen as well. Apart from these basic functions, the Android Auto also allows you to use other third party apps like WhatsApp, Skype, Spotify, and more.

Smartphones and Cars that support Android Auto

Android auto

All Android powered phones which support the version 5.0 (Lollipop) or higher are compatible with the Android Auto system. They can easily connect to a car by installing the Android Auto App from the Google Play Store for free. However, one requires a USB cable to connect the phone to your car device.

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Though most car manufacturers charge extra for the Android Auto feature, most of the new cars are compatible with the feature.

However, most companies do not offer the service on their low-end trims. Car line-ups from the luxury brands like the Mercedes Benz, Cadillac, along with most of the newer models from the humble are compatible with Android Auto. The likes of Kia, Hyundai, and Chevrolet were the first ones to sell Android Auto compatible cars and have Volkswagen, Volvo, and Honda in the list too. To find out if your car is compatible with the smart car system, you can check out the list on Android Auto’s website.

The only company that refuses to make compatible cars for both the Google and Apple smart car systems is Toyota, due to their data privacy and safety concerns. The company, however, makes use of the infotainment system made by the California based company, Telenav, in their cars.

In case you’re buying a reused car, it may be difficult for you to find the one which is compatible with Android Auto. Therefore, you can make use of the head units compatible with the software made by Panasonic, Sony, and more.

The missing features

  • The smartphone screen immediately gets locked and shuts itself down once the Android Auto is running.
  • You cannot control the vehicle settings while you’re on any of the apps like Skype, WhatsApp, etc. and have to exit all the applications to do the same. This includes browsing radio stations, adjusting climate controls as well as changing the driving mode. Google, however, is working to find a solution for this.
  • The connection of the Smartphone to the Android auto isn’t wireless and thus, is expected to become that in a couple of years.

How to connect your phone with Android Auto?

If you have a car equipped with Android Auto or have installed it later by purchasing a device, you’ll need to connect it with your Android phone to run it. Here are the steps to connect your Android smartphone with your Android Auto software.

  1. Make sure your phone is compatible with the Android Auto by having the Android 5.0 OS (Lollipop) or above on it.
  2. Download the Android Auto app on both the devices and connect them to the Wi-Fi or LTE network, which ever available.
  3. Plug in your smartphone with the device with the help of a USB cable or make use of the Bluetooth to connect it. Review the Safety Notice, and Terms and Conditions and add on the device.
  4. After the connection, follow the steps in the app to give your Android Auto necessary permissions to access your phone. Then, open the app on the device and get started.
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